Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It's A Segulah

A segulah is an action that is reputed to lead to a change in one’s fortunes. For instance, acting as the kvatter (the one who brings the baby into the brit milah/circumcision) is purported to be a segulah for fertility. Or, wearing the jewelry of the bride while she is under the chupah is said to be a segulah for finding a husband. There are also special segulot related to prayer. Reciting the Song of Songs daily for 40 days, or praying at the Western Wall every day for 40 days is reputed to “shake the rafters” of Heaven, increasing the likelihood of a favorable response.

The word segulah might be translated as a spiritual remedy or an auspicious tradition. In the Bible, however, it is used in the phrase Am Segulah, a treasured nation (Exodus 19:5; Deuteronomy 7:6, 14:2, 26:18), and refers to the special relationship God has with the Jewish people.

Perhaps then, a segulah might be understood to be an action that demonstrates a treasured relationship with God by doing something extra. In the case of praying or reciting the Song of Songs for 40 days, this makes immediate sense. But what about the case of the kvatter or the single woman and the bride’s jewelry as mentioned above?

In these cases, the "treasure" that is being dedicated is joy. A person who longs to be married might feel personally sad attending someone else’s wedding. Holding a piece of the bride’s jewelry, however, can help a person refocus thoughts both on the joy of the bride and groom and toward an optimism about her own future (and the same for the kvatter).

One can certainly find an abundance of segulot. And while some have a strong basis in tradition, others are old wives’ tales--and the rest fall somewhere in between. In choosing to do any segulah, be certain to check that it has a source in Jewish tradition, and always remember that the most important purpose of the segulah is drawing closer to the Divine, and not just changing one’s situation.


Homesteader said...

Dudaim - the Segulah of the Emahot

The Torah (Breshit 30:14) tells us of the Matriarchs' (Rachel and Leah) attempt to overcome infertility by the use of a plant which in Hebrew is called "Dudaim", or in English: Mandrake (Mandragora,Mandragora officinarum ).

We read that the plant was gathered "in the days of wheat harvest", which here in Israel falls between the Holidays of Pesach and Shavuot- around the months of April-May. We go out every year at this time, crossing the hills with out flocks

The ripe fruits have an intoxicating, sweet aroma, which only lasts a few days, until the birds and wild animals eat all of them.

We pick the ripe fruits, dry them in the sun, and then separate out the seeds.

How is the plant used? Here we find a wide variety of explanations, though from studying the Torah verses, it is clear that neither the roots or the flowers is used. There are wise men (and wise women) here, who counsel barren women to ingest a small quantity of the seeds (all parts of the plant are considered toxic), with a certain timing, and with certain intentions.

Since we have not received the above wisdom, we can not counsel on the exact way of use.

All we can add is that it does not seem right that the Dudaim are a fertility drug, and that the Bible is suggesting a prescription to solve a medical problem.

It seems that both Rachel and Leah felt that something was lacking in the closeness of their relationship with their husband, Jacob, which was certainly on an extremely high spiritual level. Some barely felt lack in the synchronicity of their emotional connection, that the mutual use of the plant with the unique fragrance might help overcome!

You will need to search out the appropriate wise-person on your own, but we can send you the seeds:

We will be glad to hear suggestions, and respond to questions.

From the time of the Avot and Emahot:
mutual respect, commitment, affection, love, closeness,
planting the seed, conception, pregnancy, full term, and the joy of birth.

Sophie שרה Golden said...

Thank you so much, this information about Segulah was very helpful for me.