There is a laundry list, nay, an entire collection of encyclopedias, of nonsensical segulot floating around. Rites and rituals that are reportedly efficacious for finding one’s eventual partner, having children, attaining financial success, or curing disease.All of them are nonsense and many are forbidden according to Torah. They are in direct opposition to our forefather Abraham’s mission, and they constitute a biblical prohibition.

“You shall be perfectly faithful to Hashem your G-d.” (Deuteronomy 18:13)

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Amuqah: The Search For One’s “Bashert”

The popular superstition of visiting the purported grave of the Tanna, Yonathan Ben Uziel, at Amuqah, stands out as today’s quintessential ritual for finding one’s “bashert” (significant other). (Without getting into the complicated and problematic hashkafic question of the term bashert, which is premised on an unjewish belief in predestination, I will simply retain the word as a semantic, out of expediency.) An ancient custom we are told, which as it turns out, isn’t quite so ancient. The fiction connected to the Amuqah shrine was actually invented in the 1950’s by an unscrupulous tour guide who cashed in on people’s pain. And much like other creators of fiction, this monster lives on. There is nothing ancient about this foolish ritual. Furthermore, this tragic ritual has even descended to the level where undignified women have been known to drape certain “garments” on the tomb in the hope of finding their match. While most of those who propagate the Amuqah mythology condemn such practices as obscene and contrary to Torah, they are also to blame. As we see throughout the Torah, the pagan drive often leads to sexual impropriety.

The website for Amuqah details the institutions and personalities related to the site, and features information about different rites other than the standard Amuqah ritual one for finding a spouse. It reads like a children’s book, but there is nothing charming about it. Thus, we also have the “Talis from Amukah that frees your mazal”, the little known “Shidduch Shofar”, and the “Segulah of shidduch Wine”. And all I could think was this: This is the Judaism of the Gaonim, Rishonim, and Acharonim?

The cult of Amuqah is grotesque, because it asserts that The Almighty in His wisdom, created a system, where the fulfillment of one’s ultimate happiness is premised not on chesed, or self-perfection but on a pilgrimage and foolish rites.

Young people, and those creeping on into older batchelorhood, are naturally anxious about finding a spouse. I want to emphasize one point. Every effort should be made to help all Jews find marriage partners, whether it be in the form of proper introductions or ideal creating opportunities/events for them to meet. There is a genuine shidduch crisis in the Jewish world today for a host of reasons which I will not dissect here. And the issue requires our attention, because it is an emergency. But perverting jewish concepts is never an acceptable solution, even if the ritual or rite in question has a placebo effect on one’s confidence.

Most Jews who go to Amuqah or other shrines, whether they be fertility shrines, marriage shrines, or parnasa shrines, are to be pitied. They are fine people, but are desperate and vulnerable to all types of suggestions. Furthermore, they are the byproduct of a Judaism devoid of intellectualism. “Captured babies”, if you will. Their teachers and rabbanim cultivate these superstitions. In the absence of true Torah wisdom, man invariably turns to soothsayers. Torah Jews denigrate superstitious practices, since they are contrary to reason. As Rambam teaches us, a foolish custom is no custom. It could be argued that relying on various halachic positions which maintain that it is permissible to visit graves of righteous people, (not praying to them mind you, this is forbidden according to all!) is dangerous, since many Jews end up praying to the Tzadik. Many simpletons will bring up the biblical story of Calev and the spies, as some sort of proof for visiting graves. As if Calev, who was one of the gedolei hador, was praying to the dead, Heaven forbid! In the hostile environment of the sinful meraglim (spies), Calev went to the Machpelato derive strength from these great Jews. He reflected on the tribulations of the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs, and strengthened himself in the knowledge that he and Yehoshua could persevere.

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Donny Fuchs made aliyah in 2006 from Long Island to the Negev, where he resides with his family. He has a keen passion for the flora and fauna of Israel and enjoys hiking the Negev desert. His religious perspective is deeply grounded in the Rambam's rational approach to Judaism.
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