How Segulos Work

A few weeks ago, someone forwarded me an email about how eating seven meals erev Yom Kippur is a segula for… I forget. It might have been absolutely everything, but it definitely included getting married.

“Are you serious?” was my e-reply. I mean, all you have to do is click the “segulos” tag in the cloud on the right to see what, exactly, I think of segulos.

“I don’t even get how people can believe this stuff,” Good4 rolled her eyes. “I mean, what exactly do they think is happening here? Hashem is sitting up there going ‘Good4 isn’t ready to get married yet, I’m going to send her bashert back to Israel for another year. Oh wait! Look! She’s eating seven meals erev Yom Kippur. Well that changes everything. She’s ready to get married right now. Cancel that ticket! Put the change toward the band.”

When I mentioned it to an MF on Sukkos, describing my opinion of it in rather stark terms, she said, as someone was bound to, “Well it can’t hurt.”

“Sure it can,” I argued. “Last I checked, being svelte was an actual tried and true segula for getting married.”

“Hasn’t worked for you.”

“No segulos work on me. I’m lima’ala min hasegula.

“We’ve tried every segula to marry Bad4 off,” Mrs. Shidduchim agrees. “And she’s still on the ‘Not Ready’ list.”

“Yes, but you haven’t tried this one,” the MF pointed out, playing devil’s advocate. “You could be engaged in six months!”

“I could be engaged in six months anyway. That will prove only one thing: that dating is a segula for getting married.”


16 thoughts on “How Segulos Work

  1. My father had a friend who was geting older and still single. One time, he’d been planning to travel to Eretz Yisrael and he wanted to find out which places are segulos for gettng married so he approached his Rebbe, R’ Yaakov Kaminetzky, for the information.

    R’ Yaakov responded (in Yiddish) something like, “Die beste segula is tzu zein meidlach.” (“The best segula is to date girls.”)

  2. Sorry for the poor, ambiguous, Yiddish spelling in my comment above. The penultimate Yiddish word in the quote should probably have been better spelled “zei’in” (literally “see” or “seeing”) and not “zein” (which looks like the Yiddish word for “be”).

  3. You got that e-mail too? It was spreading like wildfire; even my own brother breathlessly forwarded it to me.

    My parents were quite quizzical over it, since, halachically, I don’t think it is okay to wash and bensch seven times in a day, especially if one has in mind to do so. But, after all, apparently, halacha must defer to un-tried and un-true “segulos.”

    It was posted on a forum on, and girls were writing in, “Yeah, I did it last year, and I’m still single.”

    To think that a piece of bread (make that seven pieces of bread) has more power than God . . . sounds a little pagan.

  4. I am curious – does the email cite a source for this segula?

    Some googling turned up this –

    Click to access YOM%20KIPPUR%205771%20DAVENING.pdf

    which cites it from “The Kabbalists”. I would like to see a more concrete source…
    That said, a segula is just that – a segula. Saying that some girls did it and are still single is not a proof that it’s not. (IOW, no one is claiming that a segula is a 100% guarantee.)

  5. And halachically, it doesn’t seem that difficult to spread out 7 meals over a whole day, especially if you can use the night before (as Rabbanit Mizrachi assumes.)
    However, there is a dispute in Rishonim and Acharonim if the mitzva of eating on Erev YK applies to the night before as well, so you might need all 7 during the day time. (Then again, we might be mechalek between the actual mitzva and the segula…can’t say for sure without seeing/knowing the source…)

  6. I heard the same one and I asked my Rav and he wasn’t so enthused with the general I think segulot are ” silly” if I’m allowed to say that. It’s hard enuf to do all the things were supposed to do well..let alone adding magic potions to the mix

  7. When I was single, I did not have the privilege of studying (or even traveling) to Eretz Yisroel. I remember a friend wondering how I would be able to get married if I don’t go to Amuka. I jokingly told him that I’d be OK as long as my (then) future wife went.

  8. When I hear of new segulos my first question is why no one ever heard of it before this year — especially time-of-year related segulos. I mean if it is genuine, from a time-honored source, one would have expected that we or our families and friends would remember having heard of it some time during the prior years.

  9. Here is the only list of segulos I use, from Rav Chaim Navon:

    1. Segulah for honest paranasa – learn a profession (Kiddushin 30a)
    2. Segulah for recovery from illness – go to a doctor [Berachot 60a, Bava Kamma 46b)
    3. Segulah for longevity – lead a healthy lifestyle (Rambam, Hilchot De’ot 4:20)
    4. Segulah for marriage – look for a suitable spouse (Kiddushin 2b)
    5. Segulah for shalom bayit – love, patience, and forebearance (Sanhedrin 7a, Bava Metzia 59a)
    6. Segulah for children – prayer to Hashem (Shmuel I 1)
    7. Segulah for yir’at Shamayim – learning Torah (Avot 2:5)
    8. Segulah for spiritual uplifting – working on Torah learning and mitzvah observance (Megillah 6b)
    9. Segulah for kavanna in prayer – take it seriously (Berachot 5:1)
    10. Segulah for pure faith – don’t believe in segulot, only in Hashem (Devarim 18:13)

    [Translated from the Hebrew at

  10. Pinny –
    Lo rainu aino raya.
    There are lots of reasons you could come up with as to why you/your family/friends have not heard of any particular segula. There are new manuscripts discovered and new seforim published all the time, for one.

  11. sass:
    I agree that my own contacts are no proof.
    But it is sentences like: “There are new manuscripts discovered and new seforim published all the time, for one,” that give proper, traditional “segulos” (like the ones mentioned by Gavi above andthe ones Rabbi Yisroel Reisman espouses from Shulchan Aruch & Gemara) a bad name. Specifically, the words, “all the time”. If it were to occur rarely or even occasionally I’d be more at to buy into it having been an overlooked segula, but the frequency of which these are “discovered” seems suspicious as well as the fact that many of the suggested segulos have no clear source — or at least not one known by the people making the chain calls to spur others to join in the segula du jour.

  12. Pinny – you seem to have misunderstood my comment. I said that there are new manuscripts from Gedolim and Talmidei Chachamim of previous generations which are published “all the time” in quality journals like Yishurun and others. I was merely suggesting that newly discovered manuscripts and sfarim could be one source for a “new” segula.

    Mindy – of course not. But it carries far more weight if it is written by one of the Gedolei Rishonim or Acharonim.

  13. Here’s why I think segulot might work: if you are taking the extra effort to do something out of the ordinary you become more focused on your goal. Of course, you could take the more direct approach of just focusing on dating more.

  14. Whenever I see a conversation about Segulot I cant help but think of a bunch of 5th graders discussing Pythagorean theorem and whether it makes sense. I happen not to be into segulot but I am very into research. The gemara itself lists segulot left and right so evidently being cynical about it is not always the smartest thing. ex. “so g-ds like ‘no, A shouldnt have a good parnassa, oh wait he just spilled some wine by havdallah, well i better get him a good job now’.” Sounds like something good4 would say, doesnt it? Well the talmud actually speaks of this segula. My point? lets not be cynical for cynicism’s sake. Lets do some research (and a simple google search should not be the extent of the research). and then come out with a proper conclusion.

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