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Are Segulos Permitted?

I hope the Rav has a great Pesach!
When someone does a non mitzvah like opening the ark in the 9th month (when expecting) and has kavanna that this Segula should help my wife’s delivery go smoothly — Is this a problem in halacha. Basically I am asking could there be problems with doing Segulot with the intention that this non mitzvah should help me in some form.

The Ramban in Mishpatim points out that Avoda Zara isn’t always denying Hashem but using other means to get bracha outside of serving Hashem (by doing mitzvahs) with no expectations of reward and davening to hashem. Based on this Ramban, I can’t seem to understand the point of a segulah. Where do we draw the line between problems with Temim Tehiya and what Kavana is proper versus improper when doing Segulahs..

Also based on this Ramban

b) Is it improper to do a mitzvah like Mezuza and have in mind that this act should bring me protection instead of having in mind that one is trying to follow the ratzon of hashem? I know that following the Torah brings good things but could one use mitzvahs for one’s own Segulah?


It is true that the concept of Avodah Zarah refers to actions that are “estranged” from Hashem – meaning actions designed to bring a person blessing outside the framework of a relationship with Hashem.

This does not, however, mean that all segulot are necessarily wrong; it is necessary to place them into the framework of a relationship with Hashem, and then they would be okay. For instance, the idea of opening the Aron can be seen as a prayer to Hashem: In the merit of opening the Aron and honoring the Torah by bringing it out, Hashem should grant my wife an easy birth.

Yet, if it is done by way of automatic gain: Opening up the Aron = easy birth — then it is surely wrong and un-Jewish.

As for doing mitzos and intending for some personal benefit, we find in the Gemara that it is permitted to give charity and stipulate that the merit of the mitvzah should be directed at the healing of one’s child. Again, this is fine when place in the framework of a relationship with Hashem, as above.

The Ramban on the instruction “tamim tihiyeh” stresses that one must be wary of doing actions that bypass the relationship with Hashem, such as stargazing, and that this is the crux of the mitzvah — we are charged with being “wholehearted” with Hashem. The theme is central of course to Pesach, which is the time when the relationship was initiated.

See here for a brief article we have written on the subject, and best wishes for a Chag Kasher Ve’Sameach.

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