Is it a False Segulah?


    by Rabbi Yair Hoffman for

    This Segulah was sent to me by a friend.

    Supposedly, the author of the Yismach Yisroel lived in the time of a mageifah.  When asked what to do, he responded, “If anyone just looks at my face he will saved from the epidemic.”  The tale continues that everyone that looked at his face was not subject to the illness.  Indeed, even gentiles flocked to see his countenance.

    This author doubts the authenticity of the story.

    First of all, how do we know that some overanxious chasid did not make up this story?  The tale even goes beyond Moshe Rabbeinu.  Moshe Rabbeinu’s visage did not cut it.  In the parsha of the serpents, one had to look at the Nachshon and even then the person had to do Teshuvah.  This story does not have Teshuvah with it.  Even Yom Kippur is only mechaper with Teshuvah.

    Secondly, there is no mention of this story in the Chassidisha Seforim that this author has seen.

    Thirdly, the picture does not at all look like the author of the Yismach Yisroel.  In fact, it kind of looks like the Vilna Gaon.

    And finally, there are spelling errors in this.

    Now that we have come to this conclusion, it is more likely that some pranking litvak came up with this entire thing.

    Rav Yerachmiel Yisroel Yitzchok Dancyger (1853–1910), was the second Rebbe of Alechsander Chassidim.  he was more famous than his father, the original Rebbe.  He had a large chassidus and printed the Yismach Yisrael hagaddah (Hebrew: “Israel will Rejoice”) in 1911, which he wrote together with his brother, Reb Shmuel Tzvi (1840–1923), who later became the third Alechsander and authored the Tiferes Shmuel.

    Readers confirmed that the story and picture is of the Yismach Moshe.  The Sefer Tehilah l’Moshe explains that people that saw his picture – did Teshuvah on account of his hadras panim.  In this author’s opinion, one may only believe this version of the story.

    Let us keep in mind that if a Mageifah comes, it is from Hashem and it is for a reason.  The idea of looking at something and being forgiven without Teshuvah is foreign to Torah-true Yiddishkeit.  It smacks of another religion.  Let us not jump so fast to believe this segulah.
    The author can be reached at [email protected]

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    1. We do know R Akiva Eiger lived during a cholera magfia. The antidote at the time as to social distance. Rabbi Akiva Eiger Zt’l said we should make minyanim and just spread it , stagger etc. so people remain social distanced. CVS to say no minyan.

      Once we discuss magfia history this is worth noting

      • It’s not worth noting whatsoever. Cholera doesn’t spread from person to person through the air. it spreads from eating or drinking foods or liquid that were contaminated from fecal matter.

      • 1. At the time of R’ Akiva Eiger no one knew what a virus was
        2. Cholera is a bacterial infection, not a virus
        3. You are not educated

    2. u r right this is not the yismach yisroel. and one more thing u forgot that it was once a mageife in klal yisroel in the midbar and moshe rabeini sent aharon hakohen with ketoires and stopped the mageife look what rashi says overthere

      • You mean to say chassidus not hashkafa.
        There is very little authentic hashkafa around these daysץ
        It’s mainly chassidic fairy tales and kosher voodoo. (Guess who I mean).
        Maybe that’s why we have all these misfortunes.

        • Spell it out. Why do you mean? And how dare you talk that way about entire segments of the Jewish people? You know, Yeshayah got a coal and a saw for less than that.

    3. How dare you blame it on a pranking Litvak? You have no idea who wrote the “prank,” or if it is a prank at all, but that’s besides the point.
      It is lashon hora to malign a community. Please apologize to me and to all Litvaks, as well as to anyone else insulted by the article. EDITOR: Rabbi Hoffman apologizes – Litvaks make a nafka mina.

      • Rabbi Hoffman’s blaming it on a Litvak is outrageous!

        As if Chasidim never have any “different” ways of doing things, that don’t fit into R. Hoffman’s way of thinking.

        Rabbi Hoffman should make a public, free-standing apology for that disgusting accusation, and it should be removed and retracted.

      • Oh, c’mon Joe, he was joking. Have you no sense of humor? (I guess not, you’re a Litvak.)
        But I do have a different problem with this “vort”. It’s the title – “Is it a false segulah?” That implies that there is such a thing as a true segulah. Rabbi Hoffman, is there such a thing as a true segulah?

    4. As a litvak I have little faith in Chasidishe Maisos, however I beg to differ with Rabbi Hofman as to nature of a segula. It is not a Kapara which would definitly apply only along with teshuva. Salvation from any specific problem, is possible without kapara by mercy of hashem, ans that is segulos apply.

    5. like i commented earlier, which was not posted, we need more rabanim spending time on important pieces like this, like whether a story is true or not. It is is shanda that there are stories in klal yisrael, gasp, especially if they could or could not be true! gasp!
      Discussing halacha lmaaseh is nice, or perhaps chinuch, or how to be shomer shabbos, but they dont hold a candle to stories! keeping halacha in business is overrated, id rather just blame the litvaks for stuff.

      I heard a story about a big chassidishe rebbe, he was so large, that he was ALSO a litvak. Rabibi Hoffman may have trouble discerning if he was in fact a rebbe, but rumor has it, that the litvak in him tricked the chusid in him.

    6. How did this idiotic “kosher style” voodoo ever come into our Jewish lives??!!

      The authentic Jewish response to mageifa and all other misfortunes is self-examination to discover what in our behavior requires teshuva and to do teshuva sincerely.

      Anything else is just plain voodoo idolatry.

    7. Why does anyone think this “segula” is any more fake than any other “segula”? They are all a load of make-belief designed as comfort food for the psychologically weak.

    8. There are real segulos. They are written about and honestly quoted from reliable Gedolei Yisroel. But we are living in interesting times. In today’s era, we are apt to fall prey to “get rich quick” schemes. They are all over the place, and have penetrated our neighborhoods, as well. There is such a thing as Avodas Hashem, where we are gifted with an instruction manual that guides us in how to live. It is composed of 613 mitzvos, plus Torah She’bal Peh and mitzvos d’rabonon. The only segulo addressed in the Torah is והייתם לי סגולה מכל העמים.

      So if someone can tell you of a trick to bring about a particular effect without the painstaking process of cheshbon hanefesh, teshuvah, mitzvos and maasim tovim, it is a version of get rich quick. The pages of all our media, print, and cyber, are replete with promises of all sorts of things, capitalizing on segulos, many with a price tag to support their organization with tzedokoh donations. Some number of talmidei chachomim will daven for so many days at the kever of so-and-so, just send money.

      Have we forgotten about our obligation to get closer to HKB”H via Avodas Hashem? What about our own tefilos? What about our own tikun hamidos? What about our own teshuvah? It sounds comical to portray our media flashing an ad come the month of Elul from organizations offering for a donation to have someone serve as your proxy to do teshuvah. But in today’s market, that’s not quite so bizarre.

    9. I heard a version of the story where the Rebbe in the end never remembered saying such a thing and was wondering why people were looking at him.


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