Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Amazing Manna Segula!

"Manna manna."
Were you inundated today with emails about the amazing segulah of saying parashas ha-man, shnayim Mikra v'echod Targum, because it is Tuesday of the week of parashas Beshalach? I was.

It's quite bizarre. Here is something that was proposed by one chassidishe rebbe, R. Menachem Mendel of Rimanov, two hundred years ago. All of a sudden, it is considered to be something that all Jews should do! (Though you don't even need to say it yourself - the Gedolim say that you can pay others to do it for you, for even better results!) This is especially odd in light of the fact that this is entirely inconsistent with the approach of the Mishnah Berurah, surely a much more mainstream work, as we shall see. (I am indebted to Rabbi Josh Waxman of the excellent Parshablog, from whose post on this topic much of the following was taken, with his permission.)

Some claim that the source for this is the Yerushalmi, but that's not quite accurate. The given source says כל האומר פרשת המן מובטח לו שלא יתמעטו מזונותיו, "Whoever recites parashas ha-man, is assured that his sustenance will not decrease." Early sources, such as Seder Rav Amram Gaon, explained that it was recited every day, along with korbanos and a host of other things. However, only select people do so; most do not, because they are too busy working! To quote:
זה המנהג הנכון לנהג היחידים אנשי מעשה. והצבור אין נוהגין כן, שלא יתבטל איש איש ממלאכתו אשר המה עושים, ומקצרין ואומר אחר סיום, קדיש. חזק.

Meanwhile, the Mishnah Berurah gives an interesting explanation of the daily recital of parashas ha-man:
פרשת העקידה - קודם פרשת הקרבנות. ויכול לומר פרשת העקידה ופרשת המן אפילו בשבת. ואין די באמירה אלא שיתבונן מה שהוא אומר ויכיר נפלאות ד' וכן מה שאמרו בגמרא כל האומר תהלה לדוד ג' פעמים בכל יום מובטח לו שהוא בן עוה"ב ג"כ באופן זה. וטעם לאמירת כ"ז כי פרשת עקידה כדי לזכור זכות אבות בכל יום וגם כדי להכניע יצרו כמו שמסר יצחק נפשו ופרשת המן כדי שיאמין שכל מזונותיו באין בהשגחה פרטית וכדכתיב המרבה לא העדיף והממעיט לא החסיר להורות שאין ריבוי ההשתדלות מועיל מאומה ואיתא בירושלמי ברכות כל האומר פרשת המן מובטח לו שלא יתמעטו מזונותיו ועשרת הדברות כדי שיזכור בכל יום מעמד הר סיני ויתחזק אמונתו בה' ופרשת הקרבנות דאמרינן במנחות זאת תורת החטאת כל העוסק בתורת חטאת כאלו הקריב חטאת וכו':
משנה ברורה סימן א ס"ק יג
 "The parsha of the Binding {of Yitzchak} -- before the parsha of the sacrifices. And one is able to say the parsha of the Binding and the parsha of the Manna even on Shabbat. And it is not sufficient with mere saying, but rather he must understand what he is saying and and recognize the wonders of Hashem. And so too that which they say in the gemara that anyone who says Ashrei three times every day is guaranteed that he will be a resident of the world to come, in this manner {that is, not an incantation, but understanding and appreciating this}. And the reason for the saying of all this is as follows: the parsha of the Binding is in order to recall the merit of the forefathers every day, and also to humble his yetzer, just as Yitzchak was moser nefesh. And the parsha of the Manna is such that he will believe that all his food {/livelihood} comes through special Divine direction {hashgacha pratis}, as it is written {and understood midrashically} "and the one who took more did not end up with more and the one who took less did not end up with less," to teach that increasing effort does not help at all. And it is found in Yerushalmi Berachot that anyone who says the parsha of the Manna {others have here: every day} he is guaranteed that his livelihood will not decrease. And the {saying of the} Ten Commandments is in order to recall every day the standing by Mt. Sinai, and his faith in Hashem will be strengthened. And {the reason for reciting} the parsha of the sacrifices is because of what we say in Menachot: "Zot Torat HaChatat -- Anyone who engages in the {learning of} Torah of the Chatat is as if he sacrificed a Chatat {sin offering}, etc."
Thus, this is not a magic incantation, but rather a mechanism by which one realizes certain facts about the world and reinforces his emuna. The repercussions of such an internalization of these ideas will be all these great things. Note too that none of these sources speak about reciting it shnayim Mikra v'echod Targum.

Meanwhile, the saying of parshat HaMan once a year, on a specific day, shnayim Mikra v'echod Targum, is most certainly presented as a segula, and thus is not in consonance with the Mishna Berura's explanation.

But can any of this reconcile with Rambam's rationalist approach? That will have to be the topic of another post. Meanwhile, with regard to the nature of the manna itself, see the post Manna and Maimonides.

50 comments:

  1. The Amazing Manna Segula

    Tried it ,, didn't work for me.

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    1. You do have to believe in it (in all seriousness).

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    2. How can you tell through the internet that DWL didn't believe it?

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    3. David, Do people who believe in it and do it have more money than the general population?

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    4. At that time in my life I threw away any common sense and believed that every statement from Chumush to latest godal was 100 percent Emmes.
      I was considered a budding scholar. Not a nut case

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    5. Similar to being a sandek.

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    6. > How can you tell through the internet that DWL didn't believe it?

      Because it didn't work.

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  2. The Kupat Hair ad doesn't say that it is BETTER for the gedolim to say it for you.

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    1. It's strongly implied. Kupat hair's business model is to have you pay them so other people do it for you. If they were open about you saying it having the same effect, then their business model goes down the tubes.

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    2. It is for sure a good business segulah for the Kupot lemineihem

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  3. on Tuesday of Beshalach there is a segulah for helping to bring the Communist revolution
    it consists of reading the parshah containing the verse: "Ve-lo he'edif ha-marbeh ve-ha-mam'it lo hechsir"
    thank you comrade for doing your part in promoting "everyone should have the same amount" as an ideal Jewish value.

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    1. It all depends on the circumstance. We do try to give equal love to all of our children, no matter what.

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  4. you can search all of the Rimonover Rebbe's sefer and you wont find it, neither do any of his grandchildren have such a mesoora. This is a joke some guy started in Williamsburg in the sixties.

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  5. Arbeit Macht Frei

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    1. That was in very bad taste.......

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  6. The fact that Parshas Ha-man is specified by many of its "adherents" to be recited on Tuesday of the week of Parshas Beshalach is a bit strange, but I never got the impression that any of these people believed that it was some "magical incantation." In fact, every email I get about this specifies that the purpose is to realize that everything come from Hashem. Additionally, many of the emails I receive about this mention that saying it on Tuesday is only a "plus," and that it would be ideal to say it everyday. I think this post is disingenuous.

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    1. Please read the linked website: http://www.kupat.org/news/?story=41

      For example:

      Names of contributors to Kupat Ha’ir will be submitted to the Gedolei and Tzaddikei Hador, shlit”a, who will recite the Parshas Haman and pray on their behalf so that they merit abundance and a good livelihood. In addition, each name and accompanying request will be mentioned, slowly and in detail after the recital of the Parashas Haman;[...]Prepare vessels to catch the abundance!

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    2. If we want to bash Kupat Ha'ir that's one story -- this post seems to be against most people who say it, and I simply don't think it the case that most people believe it to be a magical incantation. In any event, while I think Kupat Ha'ir could have worded it better, I don't even believe Kupat Ha'ir thinks of it as a magical incantation. Are you saying that Kupat Ha'ir doesn't believe in the concept of kavana in prayer? And it doesn't really take a genius to figure out the correct kavana for this.

      The fact that Gedolim are getting involved is no different than any other time one gets a Bracha from a Gadol.

      "Prepare vessels to catch the abundance" is just a phrase to tell you to get ready for your money because Hashem is going to grant you it through the power of this prayer. Regardless of whether you believe that to be true or not, what does that have to do with it being a "magical incantation?"

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    3. Once you say that it should be done specifically on Tuesday, and that you can pay other people to do it for you, then you are taking it out of the dimension of prayer and making it into magic.

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    4. Honestly, I don't know where they get Tuesday. But praying on specific days for better "results," has its roots in Judaism, hence the concept of "eis ratzon."

      Giving Tzedaka in exchange for getting a Gadol to say it on your behalf is a win-win. You're performing a Mitzvah in exchange for a Gadol praying for you. How is this magic? Sure, praying for one's self has its own virtues, but having a Gadol pray for you is nothing new within Judaism.

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    5. I don't think that Kupat Ha'Ir is qualified to define the efficacy of the segulah - I did say it on Tuesday, but I also think the idea of having someone else say it for you is absurd.

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    6. Prayer's in the form of Bakashot (supplicatory prayer), such as a Mishebeirach for the sick, has a particular form, and asking someone else to say it on your behalf is part of normative Jewish practice. On the other hand, certain prayers that are intended to have an internal affect upon the reciter, and there's no merit and no mesorah of having someone else say it for you. For example, asking someone to say Shema on my behalf will do nothing for my Kabbalat Ol Malchut Shamayim. The act of reciting the words is essential to the intended outcome.

      Parshat HaMan is clearly not a supplicatory prayer. As the Mishna Berurah relates, it requires an keen understanding by the person saying to effect his bitachon in Hashem. Paying someone else to say it for you is mere superstition. Saying it once a year would also seem to be of dubious value.

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    7. R; Slifkin, I am a big fan and defender of you, but that's ludicrous. MK said it better tan me, but I want to say it more forcefully. In no way is t'fila a magical incantation. This is always an issue--do people think just scanning words without understanding them does something or do they think they need to have understanding and kavana? I hope it's the latter, but if they don't have the ability to know what they're saying (no longer an issue in the modern era I would imagine), then hashem might still credit them for trying. At any rate there is nothing here to indicate magical incantation. You can always pay others to daven for you. Why is that an incantation? And is t'fila in elul an incantation? Come on. I'm not saying khasidim and others don't believe in magical incantations in general or that this is one in particular, but that doesn't mean that my exceedingly rationalist mother-in-law who sent it to me does. I just posted your rational s'gulot list and she and her husband loved it. These are the Jews we're dealing with.

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    8. In any event, while I think Kupat Ha'ir could have worded it better, I don't even believe Kupat Ha'ir thinks of it as a magical incantation. Are you saying that Kupat Ha'ir doesn't believe in the concept of kavana in prayer?

      This is not a prayer. The idea (as expressed by the Chafetz Chaim) is to improve yourself. You can't pay someone to improve you.

      "Prepare vessels to catch the abundance" is just a phrase to tell you to get ready for your money because Hashem is going to grant you it through the power of this prayer. Regardless of whether you believe that to be true or not, what does that have to do with it being a "magical incantation?"

      Because Tefillah or any other Mitzvah is something that we do even though we don't expect or depend on any desired response. When you say "do A and expect B", then you are selling quackery in a religious form.

      In no way is t'fila a magical incantation.

      As others have pointed out, this is not a Tefilah.

      You can always pay others to daven for you.

      You can do anything, but the value of that seems questionable. You are supposed to pray directly to God (and again, this is not a prayer, so the analogy is inapt).

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    9. Your idea of Tefilla is very much a mystical one. Rationalist Tefilla has nothing to do with effecting God at all. The reason for extra tefilla in Elul is to impress upon us that WE need"extra" repentance so we can honestly FEEL forgiven come Yom Kippur. Tefilla is an act of submission, period. It does not change the outcome of our lives. You may be "more" rationalistic than Chassidim (which is almost impossible to not be unless you are a member of a pagan cult) but that doesn't make you a Rationalist.

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    10. @E the P
      And your idea of Tefilla is a very much a non-Jewish one. Tanach is full of demonstrations of the effective nature of Tefilla, as is Sifrei Chazal. It is not a matter of whether or not to allegorize a single passage, but rather a denial of one of the most prevalent themes in Tanach, Gemara, and Midrash. You can search for a rationalist understanding of the mechanics of its effective ability, (i.e. through submission one increase his merits and becomes worthy of God's benevolence, through tefilla one attains intellectual perfection and thus attains a more acute form of hashgacha, etc.), and you can certainly posit that the essential purpose of Tefilla is not to receive anything, but rather is an act of submission, meditation, etc., but you cannot deny that acc. to Tanach and Chazal, it works.
      Rambam clearly articulates that Tefilla works: (Hakdama to Perush HaMishna)
      ואין לאדם לעשות עם הלמוד וההשתדלות בעסק התורה אלא לכוון את לבו לה' ויתפלל לפניו ויתחנן שיחנהו דעת ויעזרהו ויגלה לו הסודות הכמוסים בכתבי הקדש, כמו שמצאנו דוד ע"ה עשה כן והוא אמרו גל עיני ואביטה נפלאות מתורתיך. וכשיגלה ה' לאדם מהם מה שיגלה יסתירם כמו שאמרנו, ואם ירמוז במשהו מהם הרי רק למי ששלמה דעתו ונודע ישרו כמו שביארו וביררו במעשיות רבות בתלמוד. (I'm pretty sure he writes this elsewhere as well, but I can't remember offhand)
      R Stefansky

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    11. Let's put the house in order.

      1. The OP posits that most people do, in fact, know the point of parshas haman. In all of the messages I have gotten over the years not once has the acceptance of God's giving over of shefa been mentioned. So as you can see anecdotal evidence is no evidence at all since different people have different anecdotal evidence.

      2. As others noted parshas haman is not in prayer form nor are the psukim particularly prayer like.

      3. Kupat ha'ir makes no mention of the idea of the mishna brura. It completely relies on the reader taking it as "this gets read in your zechut- you get money"- if this is not incantation like I don't know what is.

      4. If you are a long time fan of R Slifkin I don't understand how this predictable criticism on this new minhag shocks you. Seriously.

      5. R' Slifkin did NOT say that tefila is a magical incantation! He said that parshas haman is. Trying to reframe this point as an approach to davening always is disingenuous.

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  7. Using the mannah of the desert wanderings as a precedent for relying on faith for sustenance is rather questionable - particularly in Israel. The mannah lasted only as long as the Israelites were in the desert. It ceased immediately upon entry into Canaan. There, the people were expected to live by their own efforts. The matter is really a Talmudic argument that would appear to have been resolved by Amoritic times. R' Yishma'el's view in tractate Berachot that a person must engage in work to earn a livelihood as well as in studying torah was accepted, in opposition to R' Shimon b' Yochai's counter-argument about the loss in torah learning by such activities. "If you are deemed worthy, your work will be done by others" did not sway the more realistic Amora'im who stated that, "many have acted according to R' Yishmael and succeeded, while many who followed R' Shimon did not succeed. While the Posek, Rav Moshe (Chatam) Sofer, to whom the Hareidi world professes allegiance, did advance the argument that we rely on the Tanna, R' Nehorai, at the end of tractate Kiddushin, who says that he teaches his son only torah. that is only for the Diaspora. In the Promised Land, he rules that a person must work and develop the land.

    Besides, the mannah was only a basic food substance which was provided to each family according to its head-count. I believe that the mannah was a light, sugary aphid secretion similar to a solid form of honey that was carried by the wind. It was only a bread substitute, not a full diet. Protein was obtained from the milk and cheeses made from the sheep and cattle that people had, as well as occasional meat from Shelamim sacrafices of some of those animals. In any case, mannah did not provide shelter. Tents were either those remaining from the Exodus or bought/made in the desert. If you didn't bring animals or have a still usable tent, you needed to trade or work for such commodities.

    Y. Aharon

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    1. I think you start with a good question, but I still think you're wrong in the end. Yes, the man was a special circumstance, but what changed when they entered erets yisrael was that now they would have to work for hashem to deliver the same sustenance that they got in the midbar for free (which was temporary respite from the deal with adam after the expulsion from gan eden). So the terms of the deal changed, but hashem still provides sustenance. The man is still an example of that. And if that helps you focus on t'fila, go for it.

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  8. Obviously when the Mishna Berura says "understand" he means "internalize". If someone does so he will be satisfied with his lot. This is the definition of a wealthy person (Pirkei Avot 4:1). See http://www.torah.org/learning/pirkei-avos/chapter4-1b.html

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    1. Pirkei Avos is providing us with a bumper sticker / fridge magnet / Facebook post way of thinking. It's optimistic, and meant to provide us with food for thought.

      When the Torah speaks of the karbon oleh v'yored (the fluctuating sacrifice based on one's resources), are you suggesting that it means for those who are happy with their lot to bring livestock while those who are not bring flour? And when the Torah instructs the nation to contribute a half shekel and warns that the wealthy not give more and the poor not give less, that this is also to be interpreted in the same fashion? In the 7th perek of Gittin, it discusses the wealthy Jews who sustained Jerusalem during the siege. Did they sustain them with the happiness of their lot, or with portable property?

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  9. The earliest mekor for this "segulah" is a certain Rabbi Weinberger, Payer Rov from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. He passed away about eight years ago.

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  10. When they asked the Satmar Rav if one can say Parshat ha-Man every day, he answered:
    "Yes, but only till 8 AM. Then one has to go to work".

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  11. This week's parsha actually contains a classic example of the "rationalizing" away of an apparent miracle. The text states that when Moshe's hands were up, the Bnei Yisrael were in the ascendancy, when they were down, the reverse. It seems miraculous from the text, but the mishna asks:

    וכי ידיו של משה עושות מלחמה או ידיו שוברות מלחמה: אלא כל זמן שהיו ישראל מסתכלין כלפי מעלן, ומכוונין את ליבם לאביהם שבשמיים--היו מתגברין; ואם לאו, היו נופלים.

    We see that Chazal were opposed to ascribing the victory in war to a miracle.

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    1. It doesn't show that Chazal were opposed to ascribing the victory to a miracle. Indeed, winning due to מכוונין את ליבם לאביהם שבשמיים is no less miraculous than winning due to Moshe's hands being raised. What bothered Chazal was not the miraculous nature of the victory but the strangeness of a valueless action (hands raised) determining the miracle.

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  12. "Chazal were opposed to ascribing the victory in war to a miracle."

    The "Al HaNisim" prayer ascribes the victory of the Maccabees to a miracle even though there is nothing apparently supernatual about it.

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  13. I had a rosh yeshiva that suggested if one pays money to kupat ha'ir but the segulah doesn't work, one should get his money back.

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  14. 1. If someone truly believes that Hashem gives everyone what he needs he will be satisfied with his lot. This is the definition of a rich person.

    2. The Chatam Sofer says that when someone is praying for another he is really praying for himself as he feels his fellow's pain. As he has greater merit and is better at praying his prayer will have more efficacy.

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    1. Your first statement is a circular concept. It's like the song my kids learned in 2nd grade: "You get what you get and you don't get upset." That's good for kids, but it's nothing more than optimism.

      If your premise is to be satisfied with whatever you have, then you'll always be satisfied. But that doesn't mean you'll actually have anything. And that's not the definition of a rich person -- it's merely a nice idea.

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    2. If your premise is to be satisfied with whatever you have, then you'll always be satisfied. But that doesn't mean you'll actually have anything.

      (Stating the obvious) the converse is also true: you can have lots of stuff, but not be satisfied.

      If you interpret the statement literally, then it is just a semantic game, but that is the wrong interpretation. The implied expansion of "A rich person is one who is happy with his lot" is "The satisfaction that you believe that you'll get by being a rich person is actually achieved by learning to enjoy what you have at each point." This version has the a few merits:

      1) It is consistent with the notion that an poor person is considered "as if dead". IOW, each person has a poverty level below which he will not be happy and can't be satisfied.

      2) It is consistent with reality, in that the median person of the 1st world today has vastly more material wealth than the a rich person of, say, 200 years ago, yet isn't considered "rich".

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  15. I heard that having training in a good profession/trade is a Segulah for a good Parnassah! ;-)

    Catriel Lev, Ramat Bet Shemesh Alef

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  16. I noticed in the calenders here in Israel that they bring this segula, but in parentheses add א"ה (אמר המגיה) לא מצאתי בכתב.
    I'm eagerly awaiting your reconciliation of MB's hashgocha pratis with the Rambam.

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  17. Isn't this anti-rationalist?

    "And the parsha of the Manna is such that he will believe that all his food {/livelihood} comes through special Divine direction {hashgacha pratis}, as it is written {and understood midrashically} "and the one who took more did not end up with more and the one who took less did not end up with less," to teach that increasing effort does not help at all."

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    1. The Mishna Berura is clearly anti-rationalist here, but that's not the point. For the Mishna Berura the reason for reciting parshat haman is educational. It is not some magical incantation to be recited at a preordained time, is to be recited daily in order that you internalize a specific lesson. That you and I disagree with the values that are supposed to be inculcated is a separate discussion.

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  18. "Saying it once a year would also seem to be of dubious value." -- If there's value in celebrating Mother's Day once a year, maybe there's value in reciting Parshas HaMan once a year, too. (This comment does not take away from R' Slifkin's objection of the magical aspects.)

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  19. I beg your pardon. I hit the kefira marker by accident. (Re the other person who hit it, I don't know if he/she thought the "segula" was kefira, or something in the preceding post.)

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  20. This segulah works. So let's use it properly. All those who are struggling with parnassah should say the parshah and for good measure send their names to the gedloei hador. The gedolim should say the parshah for all the people on their lists and all the recipients of kupat hair. This free service should solve the poverty problem and increase parnassah for all. All recipients of the shefa flowing from the segulah should donate, after the positive results, 20 percent of the profits of the segulah to kupat hair to help all the needy that did not say Parshat Haman and we're not included in the gedolims' list. All these gedolim should be required to donate 20 percent of their increased income to kupat hair after posting their pre and post segulah income. Next year, there should be little need for any expensive advertising. The results will go viral with no need for advertising dollars to be spent.

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  21. All I know is that R' Mendel pulled through for me in the clutch.
    I'd been struggling with my finances for a long time (for all you supercillious rationalists - yes I work full time, and my wife works as well). In a moment of desperation last year, I tried this segula. And what do you know, a week later when I was awarded my annual bonus, it was $10,000 higher than the previous year! A coincidence? Can't say with certainty either way. But you better believe I did the segula again this year.

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