The Segulah Trap

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Feeling superstitious? Recently The Jewish Week took a look at segulot, Jewish good luck charms. Turns out that they’re not so Jewish after all:

…Rabbi Daniel Sperber, author of the seven-volume “Minhagei Yisraelâ€? (Customs of Israel) and one of the world’s leading experts on segulot, said that “most segulot derive from outside [non-Jewish] sources. In Ashkenaz the Jews were very heavily influenced by Germanic folklore, theology, and superstition. In North Africa you have influences of North African folklore and superstition. And in the East, in India and Yemen, you have the same phenomenon. The folk beliefs were culled from the cultures in which the Jews lived, and were given a new identity. They were converted, made Jewish.

Okay, so segulot are not particularly Jewish…but are they forbidden? Some say no, but…

Many rabbinic scholars have warned against such semi-magical actions, saying that they may violate the commandment to “be pure with Hashem your God� — that is, to pray to God directly, rather than to rely on intermediaries. 

Posted on March 19, 2007

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