emunah, tefillah, a little mussar, and a shmeck of geula

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Ultimate Segula


 Now what might that be?

Davening forty days straight at the Kossel or for those of us in the States who are not in walking distance, giving a healthy donation to some (tax deductible) group that is?  

Or maybe it’s the Chai Rotel (54 liters) of wine that many people kick in to the festivities in Meron on Lag B’Omer.  And don’t forget about an amulet from your favorite (possibly tax deductible) neighborhood mystic otherwise known as a mekubal.

And who doesn’t hasten for a brocha from the Gedolim of the generation real or imagined?

The Chofetz Chaim z”l was puzzled by all of this running to and fro after segulas.  He states straight away that he sees this behavior as being unbelievable.

He goes on to nail the case closed for at least one segment of the population as far segulas are concerned and in the process hands us the ultimate segula, a segula you can take to the bank.  And we’re not talking here about a bank that’s FDIC insured by dollars borrowed from China.  This one’s backed by Hashem with currency good in both worlds.

In Shemiras HaLoshon he tells us that people are constantly looking for mystical charms and blessings from our great sages for success and livelihood (in addition to anything else that’s a member in good standing in the breadth and width of human desire).  But what possible value is there in these amulets and blessings if, G-d forbid, this person routinely violates the sin of Loshon Hora and the sin of Rechilus?

Fair question this.

The answer, in all of its simplicity hits the high note of irony because the Chofetz Chaim says that the Torah specifically promises this person (the baal loshon hora) that he will be cursed.  In Ki Savo it says “cursed (arur) is the person who secretly hits his fellow Jew,” and as Rashi explains, this is pertaining to loshon hora.

And we learn from Chazal that while a minority of people stumble in areas related to immorality and a majority stumble in certain forms of theft; everyone stumbles in Avak Loshon Hora (the dust of Loshon Hora).

 Hey that’s us!

Okay, so we’re not all baale Loshon Hora but Chazal is letting know up front that the solid ground we presume to be under our feet is, Loshon Hora wise, more akin to thin ice.

So what’s the ultimate segula already?

The Chofetz Chaim ends his rif on segulas with numero uno:

Everyone knows that the curses in the Torah are always preceded by Hashem’s blessings:  “blessed is whoever does not hit his fellow Jew-and all of Israel answered Amain to this.”  And then he promises that this blessing will come true and will endure.

No big deal and nothing fancy.  You don’t have to write out any checks, shlep to the Kossel or go to a mekubal.

The ultimate segula for whatever your heart desires is simply to keep your tongue in its holster to be drawn only on appropriate occasions, with the emphasis on appropriate occasion as opposed to drawn.