- At Cross-Currents, Not A Zero Sum Game,
There is a tendency in the Israeli Torah community to view the world as a zero-sum game, in which that which benefits the secular population is at our expense and vice versa. An intelligent friend of mine once argued with a straight face that the chareidi community is overtaxed because the funding we receive for education constitutes a lesser percentage of national budget than our share of the population. When I explained to him that we also use the roads, are protected by the IDF, and drink the water, he reacted as if he had never thought of that...
Chareidi employment is another area in which there is an intersection between the interests of the broader Israeli society and the Torah community. (The two interests are not necessarily identical, just overlapping.) The ability of Israel to compete economically in the world is primarily dependent on brainpower. And the Torah world represents Israel’s greatest untapped source of that brainpower.
From an economic point of view, Israel has no interest in chareidim performing menial work when they are capable of much more productive labor. As a professor of computer science at Bar Ilan University commented recently, “Anyone who can hold kop in Rabbi Akiva Eiger can be taught to be a highly skilled computer programmer.”See Jewish Worker about this.
- Rabbi Ari Enkin on Jewish women who shave their heads, and the background and halachics of it.
It should go without saying that this practice is not halachically required, and, in fact, it is clear from the Talmud that this custom was never practiced. Moreover, the Talmud itself declares it "repulsive" for a husband to be forced to see his wife without hair. Indeed, since Biblical times, forcing a woman to shave her head was regarded as a punishment. Sefardic women never had the custom of shaving their head. In fact, according to normative halacha it is forbidden for a woman to shave head under the prohibition for a woman to imitate the practices of a man! Nevertheless, it is worth exploring the issue and trying to understand how the practice began.
- The Jewish Side has a listing of several segulos, from a class on segulos in seminary. Mekubal posts on one of them as a segulah gone wrong:
Most notable was segulah number twelve. Which states that for a better memory, the first time it snows, to rub the snow on the forehead. Somehow I see in my mind's eye a line of Sem girls rubbing snow on their foreheads hoping to become Ba'alei Zicharonim. Unfortunately it doesn't quite work that way.and he continues. I posted on another one of them, namely:
This isn't a segulah it is a Tikkun. It is found at the end of sefer Nahar Shalom by R' Shalom Sharabi Z"L. There are certain sins that cause one to have a bad memory(at least for Torah subjects) and to not be able to enter into the learning. Therefore Tikkunim need to be done. The different Tikkunim require certain numbers of days of fasting. Only after those other Tikkunim have been completed can we come to do this Tikkun. What this Tikkun requires is that one fast three days and nights. Then not to simply rub snow upon oneself, but to actually roll one's entire body in the snow. You also need to dressed in the same manner as when using the mikvah, so there are some difficulities with performing this, but those can be creatively overcome.
1- If a person is chocking on a bone, they should put a bone on their forehead and say “חד חד נחית בלע בלע נחית חד חד " – it works.On parshablog, I give what I think is a rational reason for it to work, having to do with the gutturals ayin and chet.
“והיתם לי סגולה מכל העמים”, Something can just work even if it doesn’t make sense. Like medicine comes from grass, so too Segulos will work through Torah.
- This week's Haveil Havalim. Apparently, the regular email informing people about it did not go out.
- Balashon on pashtida, and how it might relate to shibboleth.
- Imamother post asking about the source of a certain segulah:
I am wondering if anyone has seen a source for it being a segulah to take challah during the ninth month of pregnancy to have an easy childbirth. I have seen it in several places but not written with a source. TIA!!!I would guess that is finds its basis in the Mishna and Gemara in Shabbat 31b-32a:
MISHNAH. FOR THREE SINS WOMEN DIE IN CHILDBIRTH: BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT OBSERVANT OF [THE LAWS OF] NIDDAH, HALLAH,26 AND THE KINDLING OF THE [SABBATH] LIGHTS.27Presumably someone thought that michlal lav ata shomea hen, so if they perform these, they will be protected in childbirth. But the gemara makes clear that this is that their slacking off in these matters caused problems. Transforming it into a segulah thus takes the idea away from sechar vaOnesh and into the realm of superstition.
GEMARA. What is the reason of niddah? — Said R. Isaac: She transgressed through the chambers of her womb, therefore she is punished through the chambers of her womb. That is right of niddah, but what can be said of hallah and the kindling of lights? — As a certain Galilean lectured before R. Hisda: The Holy One, blessed be He, said: I put a rebi'ith of blood in you;28 therefore I commanded you concerning blood.29
I designated you the first;1 wherefore I commanded you concerning the first.2 The soul which I placed in you is called a lamp, wherefore I commanded you concerning the lamp.3 If ye fulfil them, 'tis well; but if not, I will take your souls.
And why particularly in childbirth? — Raba said, When the ox is fallen, sharpen the knife. Abaye said, Let the bondmaid increase her rebellion: it will all be punished by the same rod. R. Hisda said, Leave the drunkard alone: he will fall of himself. Mar 'Ukba said, When the shepherd is lame, and the goats are fleet, at the gate of the fold are words, and in the fold there is the account. R. Papa said, At the gate of the shop there are many brothers and friends; at the gate of loss4 there are neither brothers nor friends.5
- Rav Aviner on whether there is such a thing as supernatural power.