The Surprising Meaning Of The Segulah Of Parashat HaMan – Changing The Root In The Spiritual Realms

A segulah is a ritual that has power to change one’s mazal in the spiritual realms, and the most popular is arguably the Parashat HaMan

The concept of segulot holds a unique and fascinating place in the Torah, intertwining the threads of Halacha, Mussar and Kabbalah. Derived from Hebrew, the term “segula” translates to a remedy or charm, signifying an action, prayer, or ritual believed to generate positive effects, such as protection, healing, or good fortune.

Jews and non-Jews are fascinated by the power of segulot. A rabbi from Brazil once joked that had the Asseret HaDibrot (10 commandments) been called the 10 segulot, everyone would be doing them, which I guess is half true since we all want fast solutions. Ahem.

While the roots of segulot can be traced back to biblical and Talmudic references, their essence captures much more than just ancient practices; they symbolize a living, breathing aspect of Kabbalah and Chassidut that continues to evolve and resonate within the community. The most popular ones are, in my opinion the Pitum HaKetoret and Parashat HaMan, the latter which we will discuss here.

Not all segulot are real, of course, but I believe there’s a huge misunderstanding in how they work, and I want to clarify a few crucial points. First, let’s understand what a segulah actually is and how it impacts the spiritual worlds to bring about the change we want (with Hashem’s help, of course).

change in the spiritual realms via the segulah of parshat haman

Definition and Origin

Segulot are not merely superstitious customs; they are deeply embedded in the Jewish understanding of the world. Specifically, we are aiming at invoking a response in the spiritual realms. There’s a principle in Kabbalah (which has been hijacked) that states that an “awakening below generates a response above.

The origin of segulot is as old as the Torah itself, and they should not be seen as magic; rather, they are viewed as channels through which one can become a partner in Creation with Hashem.

The focus should always be in keeping two things in mind:

  1. That the Creator is behind everything and has full control of the worlds
  2. That He expects us to make our Hishtadlut (exert effort) to change reality, and Segulot are an acceptable practice to do so.

I’ve always grown with the idea that simple faith “solves” everything and that should be enough for everyone. Maybe for many people it does. But if you keep Mitzvot and learn Kabbalah, Talmud, Halacha, and so on, I don’t think Hashem expects you to simply “believe” and everything will fall nicely in place. I don’t think he expects you to not study as that would be an insult to Hashem who gave you the intellect you use. This idea is from Rabbi Abraham Abulafia.

If you think about it, Moshe Rabbeinu “had” to speak (or hit) the rock in the Desert to bring water, Elisha HaNavi “told” King Yoash to shoot arrows through the window to signify the destruction of Aram, and Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess “needed” to have some vinegar to tell his daughter that “Whoever makes the oil burn will tell the vinegar to burn”.

These are not mere happenstances or silly symbolisms. They represent highly focused actions designated to cause a very potent reaction in the spiritual worlds which would later translate into the miracle they wanted to happen because every event first happens above and later on below.

Now, chances are you don’t need to win a battle against a professional army and our segulot nowadays are not aiming at satiating the thirst of 10M+ people in the desert, but the common thread here is that we have an action that is “mesugal” (has the capacity) to change reality. And, of course, behind it we have faith and an incredible amount of holy wisdom which these Tzaddikim used to bring forth the miracle they wanted.

DALL·E 2024 01 22 11.03.51 A bottom up realistic yet colorful depiction of the biblical scene where Manna is raining down from a starry vibrant sky onto an Israelite camp in t

Where is the Mazal?

Take note that when we speak about the Sephirot and Partzufim, we are talking about a spiritual concept that our minds perceive. We can’t stress enough that there’s absolutely NO PHYSICALITY in the spiritual realms, and we only use anthropomorphic terms to help us understand how Hashem, who is ONE, reveals Himself and relates to us.

The Sephira of Keter is related to the highest spiritual system (Partzuf) of Arich Anpin. This is the realm of pure compassion that transcends logic and judgment and the Idra Rabbah describes this system at length. In short, this is reminiscent of an old Tzaddik with white beard, white hair, and white eyes, who has come to the realization that compassion is the greatest act toward others, and this is the MIDDOT (character traits) with which Hashem gave us the Torah on Mount Sinai, the “elderly scholar” as our sages teach in the Talmud.

This is in contrast to the Partzuf of Zeir Anpin which is a system of justice that Hashem uses to judge the world. In here we have the 6 Sephirot of Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod and Yesod. This is the system that Hashem uses to manage the world according to our actions. You do good, you receive according to your actions, and the opposite is also true.

While Zeir Anpin still has plenty compassion (especially in comparison to the Shekhinah, which is Malkhut of Atzilut), it is precise and exact. The feeling we get here (again, in spiritual terms) is of a young warrior who does battle against the enemies of the Jewish People, as we saw in Yam Suf.

Again, this is the language of our sages and should be taken metaphorically.

Now, I’m sure many people are aware of the following passage in Moed Katan (28A) said by Rava:

בני חיי ומזוני לאו בזכותא תליא אלא במזלא תליא

Translation: Children, Health (lit: life) and Sustenance are not dependent on merit, but on mazal.

Why are these things on dependent on merit and what is Mazal?

When we speak about Mazal, we are talking about the system of Arich Anpin (Sephira of Keter), specifically his beard (which should be imagined as channels of light). This is the 13 Attributes of Mercy that Hashem uses to be compassionate on the world and the Zohar says that had it not been for them, the world could not stand for a single moment. This system however is so hidden that it’s only revealed in sparse times like the Moadim (festivals), Mincha of Shabbat and Chatzot each in different measures.

This is the Mazal, the 13 Attributes of God (Arich Anpin) which are above the usual system of justice (which is Zeir Anpin). For the third time, please NEVER EVER think that we are talking about different deities, chas v’shalom. We are talking about ONE Creator who manifests in Creation through different ways.

Back to our discussion, we see why Rava singles out these 3 things as part of the Mazal: they are dependent upon the the 13 Attributes of God, which are beyond judgment and rationality. It is what it is as Moshe Rabbenu writes in the Torah (Shemot 33:19):

וַיֹּ֗אמֶר אֲנִ֨י אַעֲבִ֤יר כׇּל־טוּבִי֙ עַל־פָּנֶ֔יךָ וְקָרָ֧אתִֽי בְשֵׁ֛ם יְהֹוָ֖ה לְפָנֶ֑יךָ וְחַנֹּתִי֙ אֶת־אֲשֶׁ֣ר אָחֹ֔ן וְרִחַמְתִּ֖י אֶת־אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֲרַחֵֽם׃

Free translation: And He [Hashem] said, I will pass on all my goodness over you and I will call in [my] Name Hashem before you, and I will be graceful towards those I wish and compassionate to those I wish.

Meaning, Hashem is saying I am what I am and act the way I act because this is a spiritual system that transcends your comprehension, Arich Anpin. Whenever the Torah speaks about compassion, it generally means the 13 Attributes of Mercy.

All other blessings in the Torah like wisdom, fear of God, being saved from enemies, prayer power and what have you depend on the lower 6 Sephirot of Zeir Anpin. Children, Health and Sustenance are beyond our understanding and belong to the spiritual system of Arich Anpin, and therefore are beyond our comprehension.

Yet here’s where a segulah comes right in:

A Segulah has the power to affect even this hidden spiritual system of Arich Anpin. This is why it’s called Segulah which is phonetically similar to Messugal (being capable of) changing that which is unchangeable.

Segulah of Parashat HaMan

There’s a famous segulah (spiritual remedy) of reciting Parashat HaMan, a section from the Torah that discusses the miraculous manna provided to the Israelites in the desert. This segment, found in Sefer Shemot (Exodus), describes how Hashem sustained the Israelites with Manna, the heavenly food (as you might have guessed, from Keter, Arich Anpin of Atzilut), during their 40-year journey in the wilderness.

Now, our sages teach that this was a test of Emunah, in which they had to pray every day to receive the Manna and no one could really tell with 100% certainty whether it would fall the next day.

This is why the practice of reciting Parashat HaMan is a segulah for livelihood and financial blessings, drawing upon the trust and reliance the Israelites had to place in God for their daily sustenance.

The tradition of reciting Parashat HaMan is often linked to the idea of emunah (faith) and bitachon (trust) in God’s provision. Just as the Israelites depended entirely on God for their daily manna, reciting this passage is seen as an expression of trust in God’s continuous provision.

There’s a famous tradition that specifically today (Parashat Beshalach), the date of publishing of this article, this segulah has even greater importance since the third Aliyah speaks about the Parashat HaMan!

This is brought by Rabbi Mendel M’Riminov who teaches that saying Parshas HaMan (Shnayim Mikrah V’Echad Targum). For those who can read Hebrew, you can find the Segulah here (takes about 20 minutes):

The practice serves as a reminder of the importance of faith in times of uncertainty, especially regarding financial and material needs, which most people suffer from. It underscores the belief that just as Hashem provided for the Israelites in the desert, He continues to provide for each individual’s needs, continuously.

In the broader context of Kabbalah and individual practice, the recitation of Parashat HaMan aligns with the concept of spoken words having spiritual power. As we learned in previous articles, words, especially those from sacred texts, are believed to have the ability to influence spiritual realms.

Thus, reciting Parashat HaMan is more than a mere utterance; it’s viewed as a spiritual act that can invoke blessings and draw down blessings in the physical world.

DALL·E 2024 01 15 20.27.19 A touching and realistic image of a young Jewish child in bed saying the Shema Yisrael prayer with his palm gently covering his eyes. The child is

The practice of reciting Parashat HaMan also illustrates the interplay between action and intention in Tefillah. While the physical act of recitation is important, the intention and kavanah (focused thought) behind the recitation are equally significant. Many people recite it daily, but today is particularly special since it’s associated with the 3rd Aliyah which speaks about it.

This segulah is not only about the words read but also about cultivating an attitude of trust, gratitude, and recognition of God’s role as the ultimate provider.

Kabbalistic Principles of Creation surrounding Segulot

One of the key discussions surrounding segulot is the distinction between belief and superstition. In Jewish thought, the effectiveness of a segula is often linked not just to the act itself but to the faith and intention behind it.

This perspective is crucial in differentiating segulot from mere superstitious practices (like tying a red string bracelet). While superstitions are generally regarded as irrational beliefs in the supernatural, segulot are seen within the Jewish framework as practices grounded in faith and tradition.

Emunah in Hashem’s Providence

As mentioned before, Segulot should be viewed viewed as a way to align oneself with Hashem’s will, rather than as a magical or superstitious act. This understanding is rooted in the idea that God is intimately involved in the physical world and that humans can seek His favor through specific actions or prayers.

Intentions and Actions

The intention (Kavanah) behind performing a segula are as important as the act itself. Many Tzaddikim like Rebbe Nachman of Breslov often emphasize the purity of intent and the sincerity of Emunah as key elements that determine the effectiveness of a segulah.

Psychological and Emotional Impact

Apart from their spiritual significance, segulot can have a psychological and emotional impact. I think perhaps this is one of the most important hidden concepts: we see the world as we are. Sometimes we may say we “believe everything is from Hashem”, when part of us begs to disagree.

Segulot reinforce the idea we want to internalize and can provide comfort, hope, and a sense of control in uncertain situations. This internal change may well be responsible for the success of any given Segulah. Interestingly enough, one of the kidnapped men who was irreligious kept reciting the NaNach song while hiding in his house and was miraculously saved from the Hamas terrorists.

There may be an element of individual belief that can heavily impact whether one is successful or not when doing Segulot.

But clearly, those that have been widely accept have more power.

Examples of other segulot

Of course, besides Parashat HaMan, there are many other segulot that we have known for centuries for all sorts of remedies. Some of the more notable segulot include (source: Wikipedia):

  1. Fertility and Childbirth:
    • Distributing chai rotel, a significant quantity of drink, at the grave of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai in Meron, Israel, particularly on Lag BaOmer, is considered beneficial for fertility, finding a mate, or recovering from serious illness.
    • Acting as kvatterin (passing on the baby) at a boy’s brit milah (circumcision) is seen as a segula for childless couples to have children.
    • Studying the works of Kabbalist Zera Shimshon is believed to aid in these matters as well.
    • Consuming an etrog or etrog jam is said to facilitate easy childbirth.
  2. Protection from Harm:
    • Giving tzedakah (charity) to a traveler to donate upon reaching their destination is believed to protect the traveler from harm.
    • Concentrating on the phrase “Ein Od Milvado” (“There is none but Him [God]”) is also thought to shield a person from danger. Many stories about this one.
  3. Marriage:
    • Praying at the grave of Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel in Amuka, Israel, is considered auspicious for finding a spouse within the coming year.
    • Praying at the Western Wall for 40 consecutive days is another practice believed to aid in finding a spouse.
    • Holding the jewelry of a bride while she is escorted to her chuppah (wedding canopy) is seen as a segula for finding one’s own mate. (I don’t know the source for this one)
  4. Other Examples:
    • Buying a burial plot is thought to be a segula for a long life (since people get conscious of death and do teshuva, the real segulah behind).
    • Placing a pigeon on a person’s navel is an old remedy for curing jaundice.
    • Giving tzedakah in the merit of Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes is believed to help in finding lost objects.
    • Buying a new knife for Rosh Hashanah is seen as beneficial for livelihood

A big well-known Segulah is also saying Shir HaShirim or Perek Shira for 40 days in a row. This is in life with what Reb Natan of Neimirov saying that any prayer said for 40 days causes a great impression in Shamayim (Heaven).

Final Remarks

In conclusion, the role of faith in segulot is a nuanced aspect of Jewish life, blending Kabbalah, Mussar and Halacha. Some are skeptical about them, but no one can disprove them as they are rooted in authentic Jewish tradition.

It is important to never forget that it is Hashem who is providing the blessings that we want and that sometimes another factor, besides the Segulah is helping the blessing flow down.

May your segulot always be fruitful and help you come closer to Hashem.

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Chaim Apsan

Chaim is a teacher and Kabbalah enthusiast. He loves helping Jews connect with true Torah teaching and enhancing their spiritual growth. With a focus on meditation, he guides individuals on transformative journeys of prayer, contemplation, and connection with Hashem. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and kids, and is committed to sharing the wisdom and power of Kabbalah in a genuine way.

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2 Responses

  1. Dear Chaim,

    I was searching for the kabbalistic meaning and practice of self refining during the Omer and came across your site. Just wanted to drop some lines of great appreciation for your writings. I went through some articles and really loved your beautiful way of sharing the wisdom.
    May HaShem bless you this Pessach with good health, blessings for whatever you shall ask for and may we all experience Jetziat Mizraiim on a personal level and Shalom for Israel and Clal Israel.
    Chag sameach
    Viviane

    1. Shalom Vivi, thanks for reaching out! I’m happy to hear you are enjoying the content and I really appreciate your comments!
      As you may imagine, though we haven’t been redeemed yet, Pesach was very hectic and I couldn’t answer before.
      Wishing you many blessings and a great Sefirat HaOmer!
      Best,
      Chaim

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