Unveiling the True Power of Segulot in Jewish Tradition: What Are They Really?

Within the mystical realm of Jewish tradition lies the enigmatic concept of Segulot, also known as “remedies”. These age-old rituals are not necessarily Mitzvot or Halachot, but are revered as a means of unlocking the answers to life’s most pressing problems and desires.

While some have withstood the test of time with proven efficacy, others remain shrouded in mystery, mere figments of our imagination.

But what exactly are Segulot?

At its core, a segulah (singular) comprises a set of rituals crafted to evoke a response from the heavens. Whether seeking solutions for matters related to children, health, sustenance, finding one’s match, or even overcoming vices, there is a segulah for every conceivable need.

The Ohr HaChaim, in Parshat Yitro, draws the term segulah from a verse that describes the Jewish people as a treasured nation in the eyes of Hashem. He describes it as a type of charm that transcends logical reasoning. Despite its roots in Talmudic, Tanachic, and mystical writings, comprehending the connection between segulot and their effects can prove challenging.

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The Mystical Truth Behind the Flow of Divine Light

The profound wisdom of the Zohar and the Kabbalists reveals that every stream of divine light travels through a series of channels to reach our world. For instance, an individual in need of healing may lack a specific kind of light that would bring about their recovery.

According to Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, the intervention of numerous medical practitioners will not suffice unless someone tears apart the decree from above and restores the flow of sustenance through the channels of Shefa.

A wise Rabbi I know personally once humorously remarked, “If the 10 commandments had been dubbed the 10 segulot, everyone would be dutifully adhering to them.” While seemingly lighthearted, this statement holds a profound truth. Often, people prioritize seeking superficial remedies for their problems rather than addressing their root causes. In truth, one’s character traits and sins can obstruct the flow of divine light.

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Comprehending this concept is vital to understanding the challenges we face and how to overcome them. Unless an individual is willing to undertake the difficult task of repentance and self-improvement (i.e. the hard work), no amount of segulot will suffice in aiding him.

The Power of Prayer: Understanding When Our Requests are Answered

There are times when prayer can be incredibly effective in fulfilling our needs, and other times when it seems as though our prayers go unheard, and the gates of Heaven are locked tightly shut. However, this does not mean that we have been abandoned.

It could simply be that what we desire is not the ultimate good for us.

Conversely, there are times when a person’s requests are answered with ease, but this may not always be a positive thing. The Torah’s commentators question the curse that Hashem gave the Snake, “from the dust of the ground you shall eat.” They wonder, “How is this a curse?” In reality, it should have been a blessing, as the snake could easily find its food in the ground and consume any animal it wished!

The answer to this question is that Hashem was, in fact, warning the Snake, saying, “Here is all the food you need; you will never have to pray to Me for anything. Never turn to Me again.” This warning applies to those individuals who seem to have everything they desire in life but fail to make amends for their sins through Teshuva.

They have everything they want and no longer feel the need to seek help from a higher power. Ironically, the sense of pleasure they derive from more things is as tasteless to them as the “dust”. There’s a void within that cannot be fulfilled except through closeness to Hashem.

The idea here is that sometimes people may think they are getting what they want and that it is good for them, but in reality, it may not be. The example given is of a well-fed cow who thinks she is living the good life, but is actually headed for the slaughterhouse.

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Similarly, sometimes people may be given what they want, but it may not be the ultimate good for them. However, it is noted that segulot can help open up the channels of divine sustenance to fulfill our needs. It is important to note that we all have various needs, some common to everyone and some specific to our life mission.

The sages teach us that the Creator wants to bestow good upon us even more than we desire, but we must be deserving of it and it should ultimately help us in our rectification in life.

The Hero Bias Behind Segulot

Now, after all is said and done, I can’t stress enough the fact that Segulot are real. They are part of Jewish Tradition that has been handed down through the ages.

Many people are skeptical of them because “they don’t seem to work for them”. To this, I answer that unfortunately, Segulot operate a lot with the “hero bias”.

What do I mean by that?

The hero bias is a form of mental error that arises when people think that “everyone who goes out on a journey (as a hero) will succeed and come back with riches and wisdom”, when this is obviously not true. In fact, very few people succeed in a perilous journey, and even those who succeed not necessarily come back with all they want.

Suppose 5% of the people doing Segulot get their wishes answered. That’s a pretty big number if you consider the amount of Segulot we have and people performing. However, this 5% are the only types of people you hear about in stories!

And so you might think that everyone who does Segulot will get their wishes fulfilled.

Now, again, I’m not discrediting Segulot. I’m just explaining the expectation one should have toward them.

They work, they are legit, and they are real.

But ultimately, the decision to grant you your wish is in Hashem’s hands.

Which is great, if you consider He only has your ultimate good in mind. Keep in mind also that, like any prayer, a person’s merits, holiness and purity are also taken into consideration.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t post a list of the most famous Jewish Segulot right here:

  1. Praying at the Western Wall (Kotel) for 40 consecutive days to have your wishes granted.
  2. Reciting Perek Shirah (Chapter of Song) for 40 consecutive days to have your wishes granted.
  3. Eating the Simanim (symbolic foods) on Rosh Hashanah for various purposes.
  4. Giving 20% of one’s income to charity for faith and wealth, and some suggest that it should be given to poor Torah students.
  5. Reciting Tehilim (Psalms) for specific uses, which can be found in the provided links.
  6. Keeping Kosher to avoid illness.
  7. Observing the laws of Taharat HaMishpacha (family purity) to have good children.
  8. Honoring the Shabbat greatly, for fear of Heaven and wealth.
  9. Focusing on the words “Ein Od Milvado” (meaning “There is none but Him [God]” in Hebrew) is believed to provide protection from harm.
  10. Visiting the burial site of Rabbi Jonathan ben Uzziel in Amuka, Israel is believed to bring good luck in finding your marriage partner within the next year.
  11. Purchasing a burial plot is considered a favorable omen for a long life since it imbues a person with the fear of sin.
  12. Acquiring a new knife specifically for Rosh Hashanah is believed to be a beneficial cure for financial prosperity.

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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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