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Israel - New Exhibition in Jerusalem Highlights Segulas Used Throughout Jewish History

Published on: May 3, 2010 11:00 AM
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A member of the media looks at an amulet during a preview of a new exhibition entitled "Angels and Demons, Jewish Magic through the Ages" at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem May 3, 2010. The exhibition, which opens to the public on Wednesday, examines the origins and development of magical practices in Judaism by focusing on beliefs, customs and the use of magical objects in daily Jewish life. REUTERS/Baz RatnerA member of the media looks at an amulet during a preview of a new exhibition entitled "Angels and Demons, Jewish Magic through the Ages" at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem May 3, 2010. The exhibition, which opens to the public on Wednesday, examines the origins and development of magical practices in Judaism by focusing on beliefs, customs and the use of magical objects in daily Jewish life. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Israel - How do you protect babies against the evil demon Lilith? Why would you bury bowls upside-down at the entrance to your home?

The magical and mysterious world of Jewish incantations, spells and curses is revealed starting this this week May 5 in Israel at the upcoming exhibition Angels and Demons, Jewish Magic through the Ages.

This thought-provoking exhibition combines archaeology, folklore and superstition in an all encompassing display of amulets, khamsas, jewelry, manuscripts, books of spells and other mystifying objects.

More details here
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A book containing spells is displayed during a media preview of a new exhibition entitled "Angels and Demons, Jewish Magic through the Ages" at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem May 3, 2010. The exhibition, which opens to the public on Wednesday, examines the origins and development of magical practices in Judaism by focusing on beliefs, customs and the use of magical objects in daily Jewish life. REUTERS/Baz RatnerA book containing spells is displayed during a media preview of a new exhibition entitled "Angels and Demons, Jewish Magic through the Ages" at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem May 3, 2010. The exhibition, which opens to the public on Wednesday, examines the origins and development of magical practices in Judaism by focusing on beliefs, customs and the use of magical objects in daily Jewish life. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Amulets are displayed during a media preview of a new exhibition entitled "Angels and Demons, Jewish Magic through the Ages" at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem May 3, 2010. The exhibition, which opens to the public on Wednesday, examines the origins and development of magical practices in Judaism by focusing on beliefs, customs and the use of magical objects in daily Jewish life. REUTERS/Baz Ratner Amulets are displayed during a media preview of a new exhibition entitled "Angels and Demons, Jewish Magic through the Ages" at the Bible Lands Museum in Jerusalem May 3, 2010. The exhibition, which opens to the public on Wednesday, examines the origins and development of magical practices in Judaism by focusing on beliefs, customs and the use of magical objects in daily Jewish life. REUTERS/Baz Ratner



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Read Comments (28)  —  Post Yours »

1

 May 03, 2010 at 11:27 AM chaim Says:

a bunch of bubameisas

3

 May 03, 2010 at 11:48 AM Pesach Says:

Reply to #1  
chaim Says:

a bunch of bubameisas

It's a ;ot worse than that.

4

 May 03, 2010 at 11:59 AM AP Says:

No such thing as Jewish magic. If it's magic it's not Jewish. Period. This is a lame attraction for the pathetic, leftist, techno Hollywood make-believe "Kapballah" hipsters. How sad that it has hit Eretz Yisroel.

5

 May 03, 2010 at 12:12 PM Blue stones Says:

The urge to use Segulos could be very powerfull in times of distress, however it is against the spirit of Torah Judaisim.While a lot of these segulos have their origins in the Kaballah, some segulos look a lot like Pagan and Vooodo practices. From a Torah perspective, Teshuva and prayer are the most powerful "Segulos" one can use in these trying times. Not the easiest I agreee, but most effective.

6

 May 03, 2010 at 12:16 PM Anonymous Says:

All this mystical mumbo jumbo, new-age kaballah, "artifacts that have been "benched" by the rebbe, special zchus for davening at the kever of even the most arcane rebbe, and all these other bubba mesisas show how far we have drifted from core yiddeshe beliefs. We should return to the simple idea of each yid speaking directly and personally to the ebeshter. We don't need intermediaries like catholics need the pope to be heard by hashem, nor do we need or ever obtain mazael by wasting all this money "buying" a baracha from a rebbe

7

 May 03, 2010 at 12:36 PM shlomo zalman Says:

What a fascinating exhibit, I must see it. It should be no secret that throughout the ages Jews believd in magic just like the goyim. Unfortunately, nowadays the frum world seems to be sinking deeper into the segulah quagmire. As A. J. Heschel famously remarked, "Nonsense is nonsense, but the history of nonsense is history."
Segulos are of course total nonsense, but the history of it is fascinating.

8

 May 03, 2010 at 01:00 PM Anonymous Says:

Why is Michael Jackson viewing the exhibit? Now THATS magic.

9

 May 03, 2010 at 01:07 PM AH Says:

Reply to #5  
Blue stones Says:

The urge to use Segulos could be very powerfull in times of distress, however it is against the spirit of Torah Judaisim.While a lot of these segulos have their origins in the Kaballah, some segulos look a lot like Pagan and Vooodo practices. From a Torah perspective, Teshuva and prayer are the most powerful "Segulos" one can use in these trying times. Not the easiest I agreee, but most effective.

Before you say that something "is against the spirit of Torah Judaism," don't you think you should do some research first? You can start with the Mishnah (Shabbos 6:2) that refers quite matter-of-factly to kameyos, then continue with the Gemara (ibid. 61a-b) that discusses the pros and cons of different kinds (with no mention of any halachic or hashkafic problem in using them). Next you can look at Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 301:27 and Yoreh De'ah 179:12, about the cases in which kameyos may or may not be worn. Finally, you can look at the "maaseh rav" of prominent Torah scholars - two that I know of are R' Yonasan Eibeschutz and R' Simcha of Amtzislav - who wrote kameyos.

Do you think, then, that you know better than all of the above what is "against the spirit of Torah Judaism"?

10

 May 03, 2010 at 01:08 PM Chaim Says:

@ 7 Shlomo Zalman: I heard a similar saying besheim Martin Buber about chassidus.
"Narishkeit is Narishkeit, but the study of narishkeit - that's chochma!"

11

 May 03, 2010 at 01:14 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

All this mystical mumbo jumbo, new-age kaballah, "artifacts that have been "benched" by the rebbe, special zchus for davening at the kever of even the most arcane rebbe, and all these other bubba mesisas show how far we have drifted from core yiddeshe beliefs. We should return to the simple idea of each yid speaking directly and personally to the ebeshter. We don't need intermediaries like catholics need the pope to be heard by hashem, nor do we need or ever obtain mazael by wasting all this money "buying" a baracha from a rebbe

Amein!! I see the flyers in Mishpacha etc. and think, that's only a segula for parnassa for the printing company.

12

 May 03, 2010 at 01:36 PM Anonymous Says:

I love how some frum guys are rejecting this part of Judaism as a "goyish" leftist mabo jombo." Learn history of Judaism from non frum biased sources. The "Spirit of the Torah" was up to interpretations of different Jewish communities and groups that had their own unique beliefs, rituals and practices evolving over 3000 years. Don't reject historical facts of ancient Jewish beliefs and practices because your rebbe thinks it's pagan. Rabbinic Judaism that starting evolving maybe 500 years ago abandoned these ritualistic, superstitious practices but it doesn't mean they were foreign to ancient Jewish communities.

13

 May 03, 2010 at 02:24 PM Krum in Mir Says:

Reply to #7  
shlomo zalman Says:

What a fascinating exhibit, I must see it. It should be no secret that throughout the ages Jews believd in magic just like the goyim. Unfortunately, nowadays the frum world seems to be sinking deeper into the segulah quagmire. As A. J. Heschel famously remarked, "Nonsense is nonsense, but the history of nonsense is history."
Segulos are of course total nonsense, but the history of it is fascinating.

It was Lieberman, not Heschel. The quote is more or less "Mysticism is nonsense, total and complete nonsense, but the history of nonsense is scholarship."

14

 May 03, 2010 at 02:49 PM Reb Yid Says:

I'm still not finished learning about the Jewish religion, that I should take time to learn about this other one.

15

 May 03, 2010 at 02:51 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
shlomo zalman Says:

What a fascinating exhibit, I must see it. It should be no secret that throughout the ages Jews believd in magic just like the goyim. Unfortunately, nowadays the frum world seems to be sinking deeper into the segulah quagmire. As A. J. Heschel famously remarked, "Nonsense is nonsense, but the history of nonsense is history."
Segulos are of course total nonsense, but the history of it is fascinating.

Segulos are of course nonsense?Kameious by Reb Yonoson Eibshitz, nonsense? Rabbenu Bachya list of various stones for various purposes, nonsense? Brochos, nonsense?

16

 May 03, 2010 at 03:01 PM AP Says:

Reply to #12  
Anonymous Says:

I love how some frum guys are rejecting this part of Judaism as a "goyish" leftist mabo jombo." Learn history of Judaism from non frum biased sources. The "Spirit of the Torah" was up to interpretations of different Jewish communities and groups that had their own unique beliefs, rituals and practices evolving over 3000 years. Don't reject historical facts of ancient Jewish beliefs and practices because your rebbe thinks it's pagan. Rabbinic Judaism that starting evolving maybe 500 years ago abandoned these ritualistic, superstitious practices but it doesn't mean they were foreign to ancient Jewish communities.

There is a reason they were ancient and ceased to exist. Because they were outcasts and were rejected- spewed out like dung - that's why. In your own twisted words you prove Judaisms' rejection of these ritualistic and Idolatrous sects.
And quite the contrary to your belief, it is people like you that are bereft of knowledge of basic Jewish history.

17

 May 03, 2010 at 03:05 PM AP Says:

And I'm quite sure that this exhibit also provides great detail of how our venerable sages painstakingly, and vehemently opposed to such foreign practices, thus causing them to almost completely cease from Judaism.

18

 May 03, 2010 at 03:08 PM A Chuchum Says:

Reply to #8  
Anonymous Says:

Why is Michael Jackson viewing the exhibit? Now THATS magic.

Ha Ha Ha- I actually laughed out loud when I read your post- top stuff thanx!

19

 May 03, 2010 at 03:17 PM Chai Kak Says:

People coming to Eretz Yisroel for this crap, should just sit down for shwarma and leave.

20

 May 03, 2010 at 03:38 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
AP Says:

No such thing as Jewish magic. If it's magic it's not Jewish. Period. This is a lame attraction for the pathetic, leftist, techno Hollywood make-believe "Kapballah" hipsters. How sad that it has hit Eretz Yisroel.

Agree with #4, AP: If it's magic, it is definitely not Jewish. This is against Jewish law and is an abomination and you are right with the phony Kabbalah that the leftists, Hollywood and non-Jews fall for. It's literally a chilul Hashem and as Jews, we are forewarned not to believe in such things. Superstitions are not a Jewish thing. As far as Kabbalah, only one who is a gaon in Torah learning and usually someone not younger than 40 years of age can be a true student of Kabbalah, for it is much too deep for your average Yeshiva bachur to even study and should be left to the true, righteous mekubalim.

21

 May 03, 2010 at 05:01 PM Anonymous Says:

The Rebbe zy"a writes in a printed letter about various segulos, including the one to read parshas ketoires from ksav ashuri. He says that although it is from kisvel arizal, it was related to that time and generation and not to our times. The Rebbe himself told people various segulos. A friend and I did some research into it and we found that almost every one was doing a mitzva or hiddur mitzva. For example, for easy pregnancy and childbirth he said to give tzedoka to RMBH. For a safe house, check your mezuzas every year. Lag B'omer 5727 he spoke of the segula of tefillin protecting a yid and causing our enemies to fear us. He never did red strings, chamsas, and buying overpriced water bottles. In one letter, he writes to stop looking for segulahs and do the "segulah" from Torah (BTW this week's parsha)
Im be'chukoisai teleichu.... V'nasati gishmeichem and all the brochas that follow

22

 May 03, 2010 at 06:43 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #21  
Anonymous Says:

The Rebbe zy"a writes in a printed letter about various segulos, including the one to read parshas ketoires from ksav ashuri. He says that although it is from kisvel arizal, it was related to that time and generation and not to our times. The Rebbe himself told people various segulos. A friend and I did some research into it and we found that almost every one was doing a mitzva or hiddur mitzva. For example, for easy pregnancy and childbirth he said to give tzedoka to RMBH. For a safe house, check your mezuzas every year. Lag B'omer 5727 he spoke of the segula of tefillin protecting a yid and causing our enemies to fear us. He never did red strings, chamsas, and buying overpriced water bottles. In one letter, he writes to stop looking for segulahs and do the "segulah" from Torah (BTW this week's parsha)
Im be'chukoisai teleichu.... V'nasati gishmeichem and all the brochas that follow

I don't believe the Rebbe ever used the word Segula about Teffillin! or other Mitzvos in Torah unless he quoted the Passuk.

23

 May 03, 2010 at 06:52 PM HaNavon Says:

Reply to #7  
shlomo zalman Says:

What a fascinating exhibit, I must see it. It should be no secret that throughout the ages Jews believd in magic just like the goyim. Unfortunately, nowadays the frum world seems to be sinking deeper into the segulah quagmire. As A. J. Heschel famously remarked, "Nonsense is nonsense, but the history of nonsense is history."
Segulos are of course total nonsense, but the history of it is fascinating.

I believe it was the GaR'SHaL, R' Shaul Lieberman who was, by the way, a tremendous scholar and a great man.

24

 May 03, 2010 at 10:40 PM Anonymous Says:

The crazy thing is that there are still people performing exorcisms to remove dybbuks.

25

 May 04, 2010 at 01:45 AM Anonymous Says:

To #13 and #23,
Thank you for correcting me, it was indeed Lieberman who said that to either Heschel or Gershom Scholem. All giants in their respective fields.

To #15, yes,segulos are nonsense. That includes Rav Yonasan Eibeschitz's ( or anyone else's) kemeyos and Rabbeinu Bachya's stones. Also included are all the segulos , some of them quite bizarre, mentioned in the Sefer Chassidim. The list is long and depressing.
Many rabbinic religious leaders in many generations sincerely believed in these magical amulets and talisman practices, as did the goyim. But they were wrong and we need to correct it. It definitely was once a part of Judaism, and still is , but it must be fought vigorously. If we lose, Judaism will turn into a version of Harry Potter. Good story, but still fiction.
For # 21, if the Lubavitcher Rebbe said that tefillin is a seguloh, that is very unfortunate, misleading and dangerous. Indeed, certain scholars maintain that tefillin was nothing more than a superstitious protective amulet. Surely you don't want to reduce the mitzvah of tefillin to a worthless piece of leather.

26

 May 04, 2010 at 05:43 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #17  
AP Says:

And I'm quite sure that this exhibit also provides great detail of how our venerable sages painstakingly, and vehemently opposed to such foreign practices, thus causing them to almost completely cease from Judaism.

And of course by opposed you mean totally recommended and supported until modern thought eventually got people off some of these ridiculous segulas except for those that still live in chassidish communities (if Chazal were to have told their people that these segulas were nonsense and that their baby didn't die from "night demons" they would have sounded crazy 1000 years ago when they didn't have real science and no one would have listened). All these segulas were invented by goyim thousands of years before Jews picked them up, and everyone who believed in demons (including rabbis) used them for protection.

27

 May 04, 2010 at 08:25 AM Anonymous Says:

#25 - If the Rebbe used the word segulah for putting on Teffilin, then he meant it as putting on Teffilin as the right thing to do because HaShem commands it and for many people, the word segula means, in a way, like a bracha and to the person's benefit. There are many tefilohs that many sages say are beneficial for certain problems people may have; that is not nonsense. What is nonsense is, that over the centuries, Jews being spread out through the world, took on many customs and ways of the non-Jewish world and it held up through the centuries. The Rambam and others, of course, are very againt any of these superstitions, which is against Torah. It's plain common sense & as we know, Torah is perfect and Divine and everything else is pure nonsense.

28

 May 04, 2010 at 10:14 AM AP Says:

Reply to #26  
Anonymous Says:

And of course by opposed you mean totally recommended and supported until modern thought eventually got people off some of these ridiculous segulas except for those that still live in chassidish communities (if Chazal were to have told their people that these segulas were nonsense and that their baby didn't die from "night demons" they would have sounded crazy 1000 years ago when they didn't have real science and no one would have listened). All these segulas were invented by goyim thousands of years before Jews picked them up, and everyone who believed in demons (including rabbis) used them for protection.

No. Opposed means against these foreign nonsense. Demons never killed babies. All harm by demons mentioned in the gemara and medrash is referring to spiritual harm (the real Nezek, hence nezikin). Whenever the gemara and medrash explains how the demon looked like, it means the trait or bad mida the demon was tofais and trying to get his victim to commit to and sin. All black magic is a load of croc. Demons were never given permission by G-D to inflict bodily harm or change G-D given laws of nature. The Ramban writes that the only power given to demons was that they were able to listen to the sarei mazalos (Chazal, basically, unanimously agreed that jews are not subject to mazalos) and were privy to insignificant events that were to happen in the very near future. Why do you think there was never a so called sorcerer that was ever able to tell you the winning lottery numbers.

29

 May 04, 2010 at 10:27 AM AP Says:

Reply to #17  
AP Says:

And I'm quite sure that this exhibit also provides great detail of how our venerable sages painstakingly, and vehemently opposed to such foreign practices, thus causing them to almost completely cease from Judaism.

I was obviously being sarcastic. I'm sure this trashy exhibit makes no mention of chazal being against sorcery and its consequences.

30

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