Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Amazing Manna Segulah!

"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 allegedly proposed by a single chassidishe rebbe, R. Menachem Mendel of Rimanov, two hundred years ago (though he never even put it in writing; it is only an oral tradition). 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, he says, 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. The recital of parshat HaMan once a year, on a specific day, shnayim Mikra v'echod Targum, is a mystical innovation that is completely at odds with the Mishna Berura's explanation. Furthermore, according to the Mishnah Berurah's explanation, it is pointless to pay other people to say it for you.

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.

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14 comments:

  1. Was saying Kiddush levanah last night - says God will restore the "pigemas h'levanah".
    Will this effect the seasons? Night and day? Ocean tides?
    Anyone have any input?

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    1. I was wondering if that could mean that originally there were two suns where our sun is now. There are other solar systems set up that way. Just a thought.

      Delete
  2. Of course, you're saying it shnayim mikra v'echad targum at some point this week anyway. Just not necessarily today.

    Maybe that's the origin of the segulah. If you accelerate your shnayim mikra pace to get through 80% of the parsha in less than half the week in order, then you'll actually pay attention to what you're saying, as the Mishna Berurah says. It's not as good as saying and paying attention to it every day, but it's something.

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  3. I was "cyber-lynched" last year for daring to question the source of this holy Segulah. At best I discovered that the Rebbe in question was, indeed, keen on people saying Parshas Hamon, but there was no mention of Tuesday Parashas Beshalach anywhere. A descendant of his lives in London and was very angry with me for casting aspersions. I challenged him to find the Mekor for this Segulah in his ancestor's writings. I am still waiting a year later.

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  4. Being paid to recite פרשת המן for others is a סגולה for wealth.

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  5. The difficulty I have with this post is that it replaces one non-rational explanation for parshas ha-man (incantation) with a rational explanation (a mechanism for reminding oneself) that itself is based on a non-rational way to explain how the world works (effort doesn't matter).

    How many people (who went to college, work extra hours or multiple jobs, vie for promotions at work, etc...) who read this website literally believe that "increasing effort does not help at all"?

    - Baltimore Reader

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  6. How far are we as a people from coming up with the concept of prayer wheels?

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  7. 1. You write: "a mystical innovation that is completely at odds with the Mishna Berura's explanation."

    Without getting into its own merits, why is at odds with. Can they not coexist in peace like pshat remez drash and sod do?

    2. Is the picture for this post not leitzanus - making light of the manna?

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    1. Just in case you don't understand the picture, it refers to a segment from The Muppet Show. Here's the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8N_tupPBtWQ

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  8. Your rational understanding, which is intended only for the comprehension of the creature-world, knows only what can be seen or touched; that is all that exists for it. And when, guided by it alone, you look out on the world, and the interplay of things gives you the idea that phenomena when linked together constitute a world. You try ceaselessly you turn the chain into a closed and self-contained circle. And even if you suspect the existence of other forces, and you do not succeed in closing Circle, if your chain of reasoning leads irrefutably to one force which you regard as the first and which you posit as the original motive of phenomena, and you call this force ‘God’, then you must regard this original force as being only the primary force, the first link in the chain; but this is not the personal, holy G-d of the Torah Who existed before all existing things, Who is above all beings and yet penetrates all with His omnipotence and universal love, the G-d Who by His will and with His power and for the purpose set by His wisdom called all that is into being, the living G-d Who dominates the whole passage of time, and Who is also your G-d Who sanctifies you, Him you will not have, Him the All-powerful, All-sustaining, All-righteous, All-loving, high above all yet near to all.
    What you attain too is the denial or misrepresentation of G-d - i.e., minus.
    Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch ‘Horeb’ The World Around 4:14

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    1. @matis

      You left out the introductory remarks in 4:13

      "Explaining this (לֹֽא־תָת֜וּרוּ אַֽחֲרֵ֤י לְבַבְכֶם֙ וְאַֽחֲרֵ֣י עֵֽינֵיכֶ֔ם), our Sages say: 'Look not upon the world without consulting the Torah, nor ONLY with the eye of your rational understanding or your physical eye, lest the first lead you to wrong notions of God and the second to bestial indulgence and both together"

      If you continue on in this section of the book, it's clear that the "rational understanding" that Rabbi Hirsch is shedding (negative) light upon is that which exists "without consulting the Torah". RNS and rational-thinking orthodox Jews do not insinuate the abrogation of Torah in our approach to viewing Judaism in a rational, sensible, and logical manner.

      What does Rabbi Hirsch say about segulot or paying people to do the segulot for you?

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  9. Forthcoming classic: The Closing of the Frum/Orthodox/Chareidi Mind

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  10. "(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!)" Oy Vey. Why I am not surprised by this ? Study up on cults.

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