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.”


Segula Salesmen

To all such people, and everyone touting their own brand of segula or prayer by 40 kollel chassidim at the kever of a Tanah who was single until he was 64 and promised to personally walk down the aisle anyone who said Nishmas 40 times in 40 days at his kever—-

You. Repel. Me.

There are truckloads of reasons I’m still single. Just ask any of my relatives, or any of the shadchanim I’ve ever visited. Even my friends could probably name a few reasons, although they won’t, because friends can be unfriended.

But oh, wouldn’t it be tempting to believe that they’re all wrong—that the only thing standing between me and Prince Charming under a white canopy and a blue sky is 40 ba’alei teshuva saying the entire Tehillim 40 times in 40 days at the kevarim of 40 obscure Amora’im?

Oh please. That’s ridiculous. I know it’s ridiculous. You know it’s ridiculous. We all know it’s ridiculous.

Except the people in the glossy brochure. Chana* (*Name changed to protect her identity and her children’s shidduch chances), the 36-year-old who surely didn’t just happen to meet her man 2 years after writing off a check to this segula. And Dovid* (*name changed to prevent shame from falling on his family and yeshiva for producing such an alte bucher), who got married at the ripe old age of 28 — he seems to believe it works.  And Nechama* (*name changed so you can’t look her up and ask if she’s real), who was childless for years until she dropped a penny in the right pushka finally — she realizes the power of selective charity giving.

All these happy people with their happy stories. Deliverance!* (*Small processing fee may apply.)

All the things the  shadchanim want me to fix—those are difficult, if not downright impossible. I might still be working on them in a few years from now. But the segula? That’s easy. Quick and relatively painless. What’s a few dollars in the grand scheme of things? Besides, it’s going to a good cause: upkeep of a long-dead man’s gravestone and the printing of more glossy brochures. It’s tax and ma’aser deductible. Also, look at all these men with “Rav” in front of their name and “Shlita” after who signed the bottom.  I don’t know who they are, but surely they wouldn’t mislead me?

And, really, it’s only money… What can it hurt to try?

You can’t kill an idea. Not once it’s made a home in someone’s head.

So, pathetic, hopeful singles send you their money, and a small percentage even get engaged after. And you print them up in your next glossy brochure and distribute it to entrap more desperate hopefuls.

But who is compiling the brochure of failures? Where is the glossy book of people* (*names changed to protect them from the judgment that, really, they’re so traif even 40 holy men and a holy ghost can’t save them from themselves) who sent in their check and never got the implied (though not promised, as recommended by the lawyers) deliverance? Where are their stories?

An industry 0f parasites. A national epidemic of tapeworms.

You should be ashamed of yourselves.

Fast, Nutty Engagement Trick

Apparently well-known in Israel (a friend of mine said it didn’t work for her):

Take a piece of paper and write the single’s davening name on it with the mother and father’s davening name on it and hang it on an almond tree the day before Tu B’Shvat. Example: the single’s Hebrew (or Yiddish) name ben/bat the mother’s name and the father’s name on a slip of paper. It is important that the names be correct. Be sure to enclose it inside of a plastic baggy for protection from the winter weather and secure it on an Almond (Shkaydia) tree before the start of Tu B’Shvat. The names must be hanging on the tree from the beginning of Tu B’Shvat all through Tu B’Shvat. Motzi Tu B’Shvat remove the names from the tree and give them (or mail them) to the respective singles as soon as possible. Many times a parent, friend or neighbor is the one who initiates putting the slip of paper (petuch) on the tree for the unsuspecting single. The single must be willing to either sleep with the petuchim under their pillows or wear them pinned inside of their clothing or inside of a pocket for that year or until they marry.

Monday Revisit: Segulos

We were sitting around the table at NMF #16’s wedding when the inevitable segula lady came around with the challah. “Who wants some?” She asked. “Whatever you need, it’s good for it.”

“Like… carbs?” I muttered under my breath. Being somewhat stuffed at the time, I politely turned down the challah. “I’m not hungry.”

“Oh you don’t need to eat the whole slice!” she laughed. “Just take a bite.”

“No thank you.”

My co-table-ists looked impressed, like I’d just made some kind of statement. Truthfully, I just wasn’t hungry.

After she bustled onward, my neighbor turned to me (after finishing a bite of the challah) and asked: “Relative to other religions, do you think Jews are more or less supersititous?”

If we just look at just the segulos related to shidduchim, I’d have to say “Yes.”

In fact, there were enough of them to fill three posts on the subject:

Segulos part 1

Segulos part 2

Segulos part 3

Stuff Marrieds Say to Singles

Oh you’ll find someone. It’s just taking a little longer because you’re very special and need a very special person.
That’s a segula for getting married.
*Crash* Mazal tov! It means you’re getting married this year.
Really? That’s your criteria for a husband?
Well what if a man didn’t have that?
You know, you might be saying no to a lot of great guys.
I’m not saying that you’re too picky, but… you might be a little too strict in what you’re looking for.
Have you tried shadchanim?

Have you tried Saw You at Sinai?

Have you tried Frumster?
There are some very yeshivish guys on Frumster.
Well have you looked? So how do you know?
Sometimes I wish I’d been single for longer.
Enjoy being single! It’s so nice not to have to think about what your husband wants all the time.
You’re young! What are you so worried about?
You know, my daughter said the entire sefer Tehillim after each friend’s wedding, and now she’s married.
It could be worse – you could be in a bad marriage, or worse, ChvSh – divorced.
Don’t say that! Chas vishalom!
What do you mean you don’t want to get married?
You can’t imagine what it’s like to be married.
I thought I was happy too before I was married, but, it’s not the same.
You’re just not a whole person before you’re married. I can’t describe it, but, you’re just not able to fulfill your potential. I know I sound crazy, but it’s true.
I have to find someone for you.
My husband has a lot of friends. I’ll find someone for you.
So, my husband has this friend? He’s perfect for you! You don’t mind someone shorter than you, right?
I don’t know… my husband doesn’t have a lot of friends.
We’re really bad at setting people up.
Don’t give up; your turn will come.

Engagement Chicken and Other Non-Jewish Segulos

Want your fellow to propose? Serve him a chicken dinner. Serve him this chicken dinner. According to Glamour magazine, this chicken is responsible for almost 70 engagements. (Here’s a video where it’s given credit for a proposal that occurred two years later.)

Why does it work? The hypothesis is that it shows a woman in a domestic light, which happens rarely in modern times. But for a segula, who needs a reason? They always work, no matter how long you have to wait…

Blessing for [Do Not Insert Anything Here]

BoSD said a prayer at the kever of R’ Meir ba’al Hanes on his yartziet. Conclusion of her boss: “Wedding upcoming!”

Response of BoSD: “Say what?”

This reminded me of something that annoyed the bejeebers out of me in seminary.

For those who don’t know or might have forgotten, many seminarians participate in the sport of Brocha Collecting. The goal is to get as many brochos as possible from as many Big Names as possible in the course of your 10 months in Israel.

I was never a major-league player, but initially I dabbled in it in the ad hoc street game way. If a bunch of athletes were going and had the extra space, hey why not. I went along. If I was in the right neighborhood for Shabbos and my partner for the weekend wanted to score – we went.

Now, weird thing: nobody ever asked us what sort of brocha we wanted. In fact, 99.9% of the time, the only brocha we got at all was for a rapid betrothal.

I can’t really blame the rabbis and rebbetzins of Israel for taking the cognitive shortcut of assuming they knew what interested us. If I was accosted by wide-eyed seminary girls on my way to Shabbos lunch, I’d also throw them a quick bone and continue home. There’s no way a gaggle of 18-year-old girls is going to stand between me and my chulent.

Maybe marriage is all that occupies the minds of 18-year-old Israeli girls, but it really didn’t bother me much at the time. After all, everyone knows that after seminary you go home and get married. It’s a natural thing, like teenage growth spurts and getting wrinkles. It just happens. Why would I ask for special intervention on the matter?

But it wasn’t just the rabbis. It was everyone. Our tour guides would talk about how every kever we visited was a segula for getting married. Random strangers at various kevarim would accost us to tell us tales of chizuk lest we lose hope and not daven for our zivug with as much kavana as we might. People who we visited for Shabbos would insist that we visit the kever of their local ‘saint’ and wink and ask for an invitation when we returned.

The assumption is so widespread, I’m sure it applies to the dead as well. I can just see what’s happening in that kever while we all pray. “Hm. Sem girl, I’ll jot her down for marriage.” He stifles a yawn. “Now that middle-aged woman over there – I wonder what she needs?”

Truth be told, I also found it a drop insulting. I mean, do they all think there’s absolutely nothing else occupying our minds? If we got married tomorrow, our happiness would be complete? A slightly shallow analysis, methinks.

Which was why I resolved that when I grew up and became a tzedekes and rebbetzin, sought out for brochos, I would always ask everyone what concerned them. Well, unless the chulent was getting cold. Then I’d just give something general like “may your wish come true.”