Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Kupat HaIr, giving you All the Advantages

From the latest Kupat HaIr literature, a description of their latest uber-segulah.
"Everyone knows about the power of tefillas rabbim. A minyan of Torah scholars is a formidable force. The power of forty consecutive days is well known too. Moshe Rabbeinu davened for forty days and Hashem accepted his request.

The gates of heaven open wide on the yahrtzeit of a tzaddik. Many people visit the gravesides of tzaddikim on the anniversary of their passing in order to pour their hearts out in prayer.

And when all these come together...

Kupat Ha'ir has taken upon itself to arrange such a minyan at the tziyun of the holy tanna Rabbi Yonasan ben Uziel, a site known to be a segulah for people having trouble finding their zivug -- for forty consecutive days."
And so on. See this post by Rabbi Aviner from geniune spiritual aids. There is tefillah, repentance, turning to Hashem. And then there are gimmicks. Segulahs are often gimmicks, or at the least have the danger of being turned into gimmicks, despite any theological rationalization for the segulah. And when people start packaging up segulot and selling them (even for tzedaka purposes); and when they start combining segulot together, it surely becomes a strategem. It was Bilaam who was convinced that with his nichush and various tricks, he could control Hashem.

It would be nice if people would care about my troubles, such that they were moved to beseech Hashem on my behalf. If I went to a tzaddik and poured out my tale of woe (whatever it might be), being a righteous person, he turn to Hashem and ask Him to help me. There is a pattern of giving him some money to make a spiritual connection -- whether or not this is a rationalization, you can decide for yourself.

But Moshe Rabbenu prayed for klal Yisrael for forty days, and in that instance, his prayer was accepted. If only he knew that he could pay others to go through the motions of prayer for him, he could have saved himself the hardship. Here is a partial list of sources of how other religions have established paying priests to say prayers on one's behalf. (Here, here, here, here, here.) I was not aware that this was so established in Judaism. (Paying someone to say kaddish, where there is no available surviving relative, is somewhat related, and is worthy of investigation. But for the living, and replacing prayers they themselves should be saying? I don't know.)

But the idea of 40 days, to me (even if I believed that this magical number was somehow super-efficacious), is that there is commitment and consistency, and repeated heartfelt bakasha to Hashem from the person who wants it. Paying someone to take care of it for you seems like the opposite of that.

Indeed, to the right is a list of many of the things they will do. Within that list is:
"The instructions of the Rachmastrivker Rebbe, shlita, that older singles recite sefer Tehillim every day for 40 days will be fulfilled."
Is this really so? Is hiring a bunch of people to say Tehillim for you every single day for 40 days the same as saying it yourself? Is it possible something is lost in this delegation of the task? Is it possible that the reason for the purported efficacy of the segulah (the person engaging in introspection and forming a kesher with Hashem) is undermined by hiring out the task? Is this not then just a gimmick?

Also, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch has a restriction for kaddish, in which if you contract to say it for several people, you should say at least one kaddish per person per day. You cannot double-up. But some authorities do hold that you can. A similar thing is happening here. Surely, they are not saying Tehillim independently on behalf of each donor. Is this what the Rachmastrivker Rebbe intended? If so, would he hold that one single could say it on behalf of himself and all his friends, and that it would be equally effective across the board?

Also, at Life In Israel, he posts about how Kupat HaIr solved a logistical problem:
This year presents a problem. While normally they get around the issue of how to send their minyan on Shabbos or yom tov by sendiong erev and motzei shabbos/YT, this year presents a unique problem. For Shvuos, this year, we have the unusual problem of having a "2 day yom tov". Shvuos is Friday, followed by Shabbos. That means they would have to miss a day and would not get the 40 days in a row.

Somebody was thinking out of the box, as they came up with a viable solution. They have decided to set up a tent outside of Amuka and equip it with a generator. So now, so that you can donate some money to them, they will have a minyan of people leave their homes and places and spend the 2 day yom tov camping out by Amuka so that they can daven for you 40 days in a row with no interruption!
The bit about erev Shabbat/motza'ei Shabbat is in the graphic above, as well.

One final point. They boast about how they are combining all these segulot, and how when all of these come together, it will surely be effective. (Though they leave out the promise and leave it as ellipses.) But they could be doing better.

How come this minyan of rabbis are not wearing red bendels as they daven?? And they should be distributing chai rotel mashkeh as well! And they should be baking, and taking off challah, before reciting Tehillim. If their uber-segulah is quasi-effective now, could you imagine how effective it would be if they would also incorporate these segulas?


Rafi G. said...

I only saw the hebrew ad, not the english one..
another thing they should add is have 40 rabbis at the minyan.

Chris L. said...

Good one!

Although I'd greatly appreciate keeping these posts in the minority.

(I already have DovBear for a healthy mix of humor and letzanos.)

joshwaxman said...

that would indeed be a good one. I've seen it for Challah baking...


Anonymous said...

Does anyone know what date the 40 days started???

binyomin said...

these idiots ought to be stopped - what do they take us for? a bunch of ponytailed hippies hiking in india?

Anonymous said...

Moshe says: The Halacha quoted read that someone can recite the Kaddish for several people only if each one has at least one Kaddish designated exclusively for him.
I have no problem with that opinion, but it is not Shulchan Aruch. It is an opinion of Rabbi Appel. No one ought to be held responsible to it, i should think.


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