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Sep 3, 2008

why not use the same segulah?

I have no problem believing that a strange segulah was used in the search and retrieval of the body of that guy who drowned in Los Angeles (NOTE: it is a strange segulah, and one that many people are screaming against, because it is one most of us have never heard of before). Segulahs exist, they can be used, kabbalistic things can be done. Just because we are not familiar with many of them does not mean they do not exist.

YW News reported on the segulah, and some of the commenters there claim to have been there and say that they know about it firsthand. Rabbi Adlerstein, in his article on the search and his participation, does not mention anything about the segulah, but maybe he had reasons to leave it out of his discussion.

My only question is that if this segulah really exists, and works, why have the rabbonim not offered to use it in the search for the missing 4.5 year old girl in Israel. The grandfather admitted to having killed her, and they have been searching for her body for over two weeks now. They have, to date, found no trace of her body.

Are there no rabbonim or mekubalim great enough in Israel to perform such a segulah? Are there none of equal greatness to the ten rabbis located in Los Angeles and therefore it will not work here?

What's the deal?


  1. Maybe it only works on a calm body of water.

  2. I don't believe the grandfather killed the girl. I think he sold her. He said he killed her just to throw them off track.

  3. The "segula" is from Huckleberry fin, but there the bread has quicksilver(mercury) on it instead of a candle.
    In Huck Finn, I believe it was a moving stream.

    Apparently the belief is much older than Huck Finn.
    Here's from http://www.answers.com/topic/drowning-2
    In popular belief, there are several ways of finding the bodies of drowned people. One is to float a loaf of bread, loaded with a quantity of mercury, across the pond or river, and it will stop over, or near to, the place where the body lies (N&Q 6s:8 (1883), 367, 435-6), a method which goes back at least to the 1580s. Another way of locating the corpse is to fire a gun across the water, which will bring the body to the surface. Sailors believed that the concussion of the shot bursts the gall bladder of the drowned body and thereby makes it float (Denham Tracts, 1895: ii. 72). A variation on this principle was to fill bottles with gunpowder and contrive to explode them under water (N&Q 5s:9 (1878), 478). A number of other long-standing beliefs existed about drowned bodies. It was thought that a body found floating on the water cannot have been drowned but must have been a murder victim, already dead before being placed in the water, on the premise that drowned bodies sink. N&Q (167 (1934), 297, 336-7; 168 (1935), 214) cites a court-case of 1699 in which this belief is cited as evidence. Corpses were, however, believed to rise on the ninth day after drowning (when their gall bladder broke), and it was also maintained that males floated face up, while females floated face down. Thomas Browne devotes a chapter of his Pseudoxia Epidemica (6th edn. (1672), book 4, chapter 6) to refuting these notions.

  4. (from straightdope.com)
    "Radford's Encyclopaedia of Superstition, by E. and M.A. Radford (1947),...Huck "happened to think how they always put quicksilver in loaves of bread and float them off because they always go right to the drownd carcass and stop there." Radford says this superstition is British in origin and cites a contemporary (1940s) case where it actually worked!"

  5. Anon,

    Could be that similar superstitions are based on the segula.

    Is Rose's mother (Marie) even Jewish? If not, it may explain why there may be no point even trying the segulah (or why rabbonim don't want to get involved, or both) - it may only work for yidden.

  6. yoni - while I have not paid such close attention to the details of the case, I have not heard she is not Jewish.
    Are you stating that as a fact I missed or just suggesting it?

  7. Could be that similar superstitions are based on the segula.

    Isn't it considerably more likely that the segulah is based on these superstitions?

  8. Rafi,

    I didn't say anything. I raised it as a possibility (hence the question mark). Even if she is not Jewish, I doubt the media would mention it.


    My gut is to agree with you, but YeshivaWorldNews cites witnesses that it worked in California (or more accurately, that the ceremony was performed, and the desired result happened - post hoc, ergo propter hoc).


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