A few days ago, I published a post, The Spectacular Sufganiya Segulah, which discussed a segulah for parnasa, publicized by Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi and allegedly from Rambam's father, about cooking sufganiyot in oil. As I showed, even if the source text (found in Serid U'Palit) really was from Rambam's father, it says no such thing. All it says is that there is a custom of frying foods in oil as a remembrance of the Chanuka miracle.
It turns out that it is not only Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi spreading this message. Google turned up lots of people saying the same thing. Someone sent me a sheet that was sent home from a rebbe in a Talmud Torah (at right). It includes the same fabricated segula that it claims to be from Rambam's father. But this time it's even more disturbing. There are quotation marks placed around this completely fabricated text, as though it is actually Rambam's father's words. Even more bizarrely, it is followed by a claim that the same is to be found in Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach's work Halichos Shlomo. Yet as you can see in the relevant page of Halichos Shlomo (displayed below), no such statement is to be found. There is absolutely no mention of segulah, parnasah, or anything like that.
What is going on here? Someone sent me a link to another sefer claiming that this segulah is to be found in Halichos Shlomo and in the writing of Rambam's father, but this one gave a source for the latter: Responsa Yaavetz 1:2. I then found Rabbanit Mizrachi's formal discussion of this segulah, which gave the same source. The problem is that there is no such discussion in Responsa Yaavetz 1:2!
So what is going on? The reference to Yaavetz 1:2 is presumably a mistake, and the intention is to refer to Tashbetz 1:2, which is referenced in Serid HaPalit as making mention of Rambam's father's writings. However, Tashbetz makes no mention at all of sufganiyot or segulos.
And what about the claims that Rambam's father and Rav Shlomo Zalman describe frying sufganiyot as being a segulah? These appear to be fabricated out of thin air. But where and how did they start? If anyone has any insights on this, please share!
I don't know which is more disturbing - the sheer irrationality of believing that you should fry sufganiyot as a segulah for parnasah, or the widespread relaying of an alleged source that appears to be entirely fabricated!
(Thanks to Rabbi Scott Kahn for his contributions to this post. Check out his fabulous new website, www.JewishCoffeeHouse.com!)