Monday, August 16, 2010

Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes to find a shidduch

It is with trepidation I write this -- the last time I wrote about Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes I got hundreds of hits for people seeking to buy underpants. But anyway, here goes.

Shirat Devorah posts about a new development in the always exciting field of segulos:
Received via email from a friend of a friend of a friend....

(A true story)

A young lady was waiting for her basherte. But time was quickly ticking by and she was desperate to find him... She went over to her 'fridge where there was a magnetic segulah (see picture on right) for Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess (the Master of the Miracle). Taking some coins from her purse, the young lady dropped it into a tzedaka box whilst reciting this heartfelt request:

"Dear Hashem, I am donating these coins in the merit of the Sage Rabbi Meir baal HaNess. I have lost my basherte, PLEASE, PLEASE HASHEM LET ME FIND HIM SOON!!!"

And yes. So it was. Within a short while she was engaged to be married.

I can't guarantee the soul mate, but I can tell you that my mother once lost a very valuable diamond ring, I dropped some money in the Rabbi Baal Ha"ness pushka, said a prayer, and the ring was found within minutes.
I think I'll add some justification to this. In the beginning of maseches Kiddushin, we learn:
דתניא: ר"ש אומר מפני מה אמרה תורה "כי יקח איש אישה" (דברים כב,כד) ולא כתב "כי תלקח אשה לאיש"? מפני שדרכו של איש לחזר על אשה ואין דרכה של אשה לחזר על איש, משל לאדם שאבדה לו אבידה - מי חוזר על מי? בעל האבידה מחזר על אבידתו.
From Point by Point Summary, for a quick translation:
1. (Beraisa - R. Shimon) Question: Why did the Torah said that a man takes a woman, and not vice-versa?
2. Answer (R. Shimon): Because it is the way of the man to purse the woman, not vice-versa;
i. Woman was taken (created) from man - it is natural that the one who lost an object, he looks for it.
Thus, one's spouse might be termed a lost article, and the segulah is indeed appropriate!

The "problem" with this is that if we consider the gemara and braysa more carefully, we see that only the woman is considered the avaidah, not the man. Yet in the feminist story being circulated by email, the woman is the one who cannot find her lost article. This segulah is contrary to halacha!

OK, I am speaking a bit facetiously.

Even so, I would deem this chiddush, an innovation -- and not a good one. Whatever you think of the advisability and efficacy of the original segulah -- to find lost articles, at least this is an established one. But now, not only is the standard and time-tested hishtadlus coupled with tefillah insufficient, but all the well-established segulos are insufficient. People practice magic, and experiment. 'Well, this magic worked for this, so even though none of the seforim hakedoshim talk of using it for a shidduch, and talk instead of other segulos, I'm going to try this.' This is the way folk-religious grows, organically.

That it worked for this particular maidel does not convince me in the least. Tons of people are trying segulos, and probably some of them are experimenting in this way with new segulos. And at the same time, they are actively dating and praying. And there is something called Regression Towards the Mean which ensures that at least in some of these cases, the tested segulah will appear to work. Now that this is being forwarded around by email to the credulous and superstitious, I would guess that a lot more maidels will try this segulah, and that in some instances, it will appear to work. Such that ten years from now, this may well be one of the standard, "tested and tried" segulos.

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