Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Segulah as Meme

A meme is "an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture."

It is a neat concept, taking evolutionary principles to account for the spread of ideas. To cite Wikipedia:
Advocates of the meme idea say that memes may evolve by natural selection in a manner analogous to that of biological evolution. Memes do this through the processes of variationmutationcompetition and inheritance, each of which influence a meme's reproductive success. Memes spread through the behaviors that they generate in their hosts. Memes that propagate less prolifically may become extinct, while others may survive, spread and (for better or for worse) mutate. Memes that replicate most effectively enjoy more success, and some may replicate effectively even when they prove to be detrimental to the welfare of their hosts.
Thus, some ideas might have attributes that will cause them to propagate and thrive.

Then, I saw this segulah at Imamother:
Just wanted to announce that I lit a candle for 40 days l'ilui nishmas Menachem Mendel ben R' Yosef m'Riminov for my brother to find his zivug in a timely manner. 

I started lighting for him last year Chanukah and he is now B"H happily married to the sweetest girl. He was considered an older bachur. 

Part of this segula is to publicize the segula if your prayer is answered within a reasonable time frame. My brother is B"H finally married to a wonderful sweetheart of a girl 10 1/2 months after I lit the fortieth candle. 

IY"H soon by everyone who's still waiting for theirs. 
Emphasis mine. I am not sure if this is 40 consecutive days, or if it is the 40 consecutive Tuesdays mentioned in this recent Dreaming Of Moshiach post, or specifically on his yahrzeit, :
Chasdei shamayim I found 2 beautiful segulot which I can personally testify I saw amazing salvation and wanted to share with you, as follows:

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Merimanovben Yosef, zs'kl, promises:
"Whomever will light a candle in my honor every Tuesday, I will personally operate for his salvation"It is a great talisman for salvation in all areas, miracles and wonders, to light a candle in honor of the Tzaddik every Tuesday. Rabbi Meir Abuhatzera, zs'kl, said: "Just to mention the name of the Tzaddik already operates salvation."...
I am against practicing this segulah, for obvious reasons which are beyond the scope of this post. But I find it pretty funny that part of the segulah is promulgating it if it works.

I guess I can see the reasoning behind it. If you promulgate it, you encourage others to do it as well. And so, all their candles, and the candles they encourage others to light, can all be attributed to you. Multi-level marketing in the realm of segulahs? Either that, or R' Menachem Mendel of Rimanov is a bit of a kavod-seeker, and will only help you if you will boast of his success.

Regardless, from the perspective of memes, this is absolute genius. Take two equal segulahs, (A) with the publicity clause and (B) without. Maybe they both work, or maybe there is nothing to them. Let us say they are both fully functional segulos. Even so, the one that has as part of it that you should email its success to everyone on your contact list, (A), will spread, while the other one, (B), may fizzle out.

Or let us say, instead, that both segulos work randomly one time in twenty. Because of regression towards the mean. But, twenty people perform segulah (A), and so it succeeds for one person. Since it is part of the segulah, he then tells his hundred friends and acquaintances. They try it, and some small portion once again see success. And so they publicize it in turn. Eventually, all of klal Yisrael knows of this previously obscure segulah, and hear only the now-hundreds of success stories. And so it is a segulah which is baduk. Of course, nobody bothers to publicize the many failures, because people don't generally do that, and it is not part of the segulah to publicize how it did not work.


P. Almonius said...

Reminds me (l'havdil cheitzi havadla) of a prayer to St. Jude which I used to find in the classified ads of newspapers when I lived in the US, the prayer included a promise to publish it.

Hillel said...

R' Waxman,
Needs one addition; if you fail to publicize the segulah, something terrible will happen.

Anonymous said...

My wife performed this segula over 4 years ago with the intention that we should be zocha to move into a house from our cramped apartment. On the 40th day we made a deal on a house.

Anonymous said...

I have a question. I thought this Segulah was for
40 consecutive days not 40 Tuesday's. Which is it. I believe everything helps so I want to get it right.

Lana said...

I lit a candle for 40 days lillui nishmas rav mendel miriminov and I think it was in the 40 th day that I went for the transfer of my sons embryo through ivf. I had been going through grueling fertility treatments and I now have a beautiful almost 7 year old BH! I did this Segulah amongst a lot of davening and other things ie brachos party etc etc...


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