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May 20, 2008

what the heck is chai rottel anyway?

Can anybody explain the minhag/segulah of Lag B'Omer that is called "Chai Rottel"? I have never understood it.
Something about sponsoring drinks in Meron.

Is it good for the guy sponsoring? Good for the guy drinking? What is it based on? Any of the readers here know anything about it?


  1. The minhag is to provide cold drinks for the people who come to Meron on Lag BaOmer to visit the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai. Last year there were about 20,000 visitors on Lag BaOmer, and cold drinks and snacks were provided to them (I'm not sure exactly by whom.) I don't know where the minhag comes from, but I assume it has something to do with the carob tree and the spring of cold water that Hashen miraculously provided for Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his son to sustain them during their years in the cave.

  2. Or it could be one of those segulahs which are made up so that people will do what should be done anyway. I always assumed that if there wouldn't be a "segulah" linking folding one's tallis after shabbos with shalom bayit, people would do it on shabbos in an inappropriate way, since they would relate to the issur as a mere "bubemayse". Same thing here: feeding hungry and tired people? Let someone else do it. But a segula? I'll do it for sure!

  3. thanks Raizy - that is an interesting suggestion about comparing it to the carob tree....
    But it still does not clarify what part of it is the segulah and for whom?

    Yoni - I like that pshat.

    But again, is it a segulah for the guy donating or the guy drinking? I know there are people who bring back "chai rottel" drinks from meron (basically bug juice in a cup that says "chai rottel" and gives them out saying it is a segulah to drink.

    I understand why it would be good for the giver, but what segulah would there be for the drinker? what is special about this bug juice from the drinkers point of view?

  4. as far as i understand...
    the "great segulah" and "minhag of many generations" of chai rotel started just a few years ago when someone found written in some holy book that since so many people travel to meron on lag beomer (a long, tiring, and thirsty journey) it would be a big "zechut" to be able to give drinks - 18 "rotel" (which AFAIU is a unit of liquid volume, such as "18 ounces") to the thirsty and tired travelers.
    The people that saw this writen in the great zadik's writings immediately saw the great segulah (and money-making opportunity).
    They immediately organized a drink distribution organization that spends millions of dollars on fundrasing and advertising (and also a few measly shekels on the watery bug juice that they give out).
    Just think of the math. If you get just 20 rich american good-hearted jews to get the big zechus to pay for the drinks of the 10,000 thirsty jews that go to the hilulah (at $2 retail value of each can of drink) that will give you ($2 x 10000 x 20) $400,000!!!!
    and all you actually promised to do is give 10,000 paper cups of watery petel.
    (you never actually told the people that you collected the money from that you also collected from other for the same Chai Rotel).
    Rafi - you wanna go into business with me?

  5. There is no source for the Chai Rottel segula though many (i.e. those who want your money)try to claim it from the 1st Bobover Rebbe.

    -The Mara D'atra

  6. y - it is genius.
    But this supposed segulah - who is that for? the drinkers? the donors? the distributors?

  7. it's listed for real in the Sefer Tamei Haminhagim. I don't recall if there is a source for it though.

  8. As a Yekke, neither Meron, bonfires, upsherin or chai rotel is your minhag. They are not minhag Ashkenaz, cf. Chasam Sofer and elsewhere.

  9. Actually, more like 300,000 people go to meron.

  10. Litvak - you are right, and I have only gone once on Lag B'omer in my life. But it is an experience, and even if it is not your minhag, it is an amazing cultural experience, I think worth experiencing at least once.

    elchonon - yes, but no single chai rottel "company" is providing drink for all 300,000 people. There are a lot of these guys offering chai rottel. Look in any frum magazine right now, from the past few weeks, and you will see many advertisements offering sponsorships.

  11. http://extremegh.blogspot.com/2007/05/rashbi-rashbi-rashbi-rashbi.html

  12. New Segulah for Lag Beomer,
    send me Chai Rotel Gelt times Gematria of Bas and I promise you everything (as long as the check clears with in 2 business days)
    send the money to
    Josh Dubow
    PO Box URDum
    Beitar Illit, IL
    the only good these "segolot" are good for is the people who are taking the $$$ (supposedly of close to $500,000 a year for the Chai Rotel scam.
    heard a story (maybe was posted here?) some avreich came to the Steipler or his son, and asked if he the avriech should do Shiluach Hakan as it is a segulah for children and parnossah, the Rav yelled at him " you na'ar, you should do shiluach hakan because it is a mitzvah!!!"

  13. josh - great story from the Steipler. Thanks

  14. As someone once said, the problem that there are so many non-religious Jews is because we tell them that it is a mitzvah to keep Shabbat , and they don't want to. But if we would tell them that it is a segulah to keep Shabbat - then they will.

    Or as the saying goes (sorry but it can't be translated to english) -
    we are going from being an "Am Segulah" to an "Am shel segulot".


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