I have written on several occasions about Voodoo Judaism (for example, here; see links), bemoaning the persistence of such irrational practices. And yet, the teeming masses seem to ignore my words… Voodoo Judaism is going strong, gaining new adherents every day.
Anyone connected to social media could not miss yesterday’s viral posts about the segulah (charm, beneficial prayer) of the Manna Prayer. This prayer, to be recited on the Tuesday of BeShalach (this week’s Torah portion), consists of reading a few verses from the Torah dealing with the Manna that fell from heaven in the desert. One needs to read these verses twice in Hebrew and once in Aramaic and, lo and behold, he or she are guaranteed good income and prosperity. (One does not even need to actually say the prayer. You can pay someone to say it for you! I guess this is another source of income for unemployed Yeshiva dwellers).
Thankfully, there are still some rabbis who can think clearly. One of them is Rabbi Amnon Bazak, who wrote on his Facebook page about the lack of any halachic foundation for this practice. If anything, the Shulchan Aruch (the definive text of Jewish Law) recommends to say this prayer daily, but as part of many other daily practices designed to strengthen our belief in divine providence. Rabbi Bazak recommends a much simpler approach to guaranteeing prosperity, following the words of the Torah:
And it shall come to pass, if you shall hearken diligently to My commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul. I will give the rain of your land in its season, the former rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your corn, and your wine, and your oil. And I will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you shall eat and be satisfied. (Devarim 11, 13-15).
In other words, keep God’s commandments and he will make sure you shall not want. Simple, right? But it’s not as enticing (nor as easy!) as mumbling a prayer on a specific day of the year.
Unsurprisingly, Rabbi Bazak was immediately attacked by other rabbis. Rabbi Amichai Eliyahu (grandson of former Chief Rabbi Eliyahu z”l, no surprises here), called him condescending and aloof. Why aloof? Because millions of Jews frequent sages’ graves and believe in segulot… Talk about tautology. It is exactly these Voodoo Judaism practices that Rabbi Bazak wrote against in the first place!