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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Can Someone Just Say it Out Loud?


Can someone just say out loud that this (published in Mishpacha) and this (an advertisement I saw in other publications besides the one Marty Bluke noted) are foreign worship/avoda zara!?!

I simply will not give to any organization that promotes such foreign worship. I wish publications would refuse such ads. These same publications have take to obliterating the faces of girls and women of all ages, to say nothing of the stir of recent memory when Clinton was photoshopped out of a picture, in the name of "tznius" yet they run ads for manufactured segulot, the newest being "segula wine" and "silver segula rings" which have been engraved with holy names and dunked in the mikvah three times, and protected with double cover as per the instructions.

What's next Marty Bluke asks? I have no idea. But I think it high time some frum communities stop getting worked up when a missionary step foot in the 'hood. Far more dangerous than a J-Witness handing out literature door to door or a young group of Mormons knocking, are the advertisements making their into frum houses each and every week via snail mail and in publications and advertising booklets.


42 comments:

AMRILUSAGUY said...

And what exactly is the difference between this and those who believe that the rebbe is still alive and talking to them.....

bluke said...

I posted (Some of the segula type ads that I have seen in the past) pictures of 10+ similar ads that I have collected over the past 2 years. It is simply unbelievable what is going on.

Zach Kessin said...

I think a good term for it would be "Vending Machine Judaism"

How about we put away the stupid segoulot and teach people to stand on their own two feed and use the brains that G-d so nicely gave them.

Garnel Ironheart said...

This is their position: if the goyim do it, it's Avoidah Zarah. If we do it, it's a segulah.

Anonymous said...

We know the vendors of these are looking for customers, but do we know if their ads are working? Many marketing concepts don't make it in practice.

Maybe reading this blog is a segulah for straight thinking. And yet it's free!

ProfK said...

Forget for a moment avodah zorah. We are forbidden to indulge in kishuv--witchcraft/magic. How is that ring any different from a witch's magic wand or that wine any different from a magic potion? They both say use me/drink me and you'll get what you want with no effort or work on your part.

And that is what bothers me the most--the "let's get something for nothing" attitude that is all too prevalent among those who are the target for these ads. Forget work and hard effort--buy a segulah item and what you want will be yours with no work involved.

Mergatroid said...

Point of clarification: The ring ad does not seem to be for a tzedakah, but is rather just a commercial venture. Not sure if that makes it better or worse.

Anonymous said...

The crowd that believes in these amulets is fast becoming normative observant Judaism. One thing is for sure, normative observant Judaism in 2050 will look nothing like normative observant Judaism in 1950.

Anonymous 9:31 said...

Let me elaborate on my comment to explain that I believe that over time, rabbis will have a way to explain, with traditional sources, why these amulets are not avodah zarah, and that they are even praiseworthy. The halacha will evolve to fit the practice.

The halacha evolving to fit the practice is actually how we have gotten many of the "halachos" we have today.

JS said...

Agree with a lot of the comments above, especially anon 9:31/9:39's comment. This will one day become normative Orthodox Judaism and will be rationalized with stories of great gedolim and mekubalim and stories of yeshua and what have you. It's already being done. I see it as just another reshaping of Judaism towards this "God will provide" attitude and not "God helps those who help themselves."

The thing is this: do you believe that NO segulas work or do you believe that somewhere out there there is at least ONE segulah that does work? Cause once you open the door that one segulah works, why not others? If parshat ha'man works, why not a silver segulah ring? If chai rotel mashkeh works why not segulah wine? It's a whole slippery slope and it's hard to point out why one segulah is a sham and why another is the real deal.

Another thing you missed: the advertisement for the silver segulah ring includes a gem about it's efficacy. The ad says a guy was about to get the book thrown at him for shady financial dealings, he wore the ring, and the next day the judge threw out the case.

Mazal tov!

Bob Miller said...

Some segulot involve practices that already are mitzvot. These would be in a separate category, but the motivation should still be to do the mitzvah for its own sake.

Anonymous said...

That whole "selling indulgences" thing that the Catholic Church did led to the Protestant Reformation...perhaps a true reformation of so-called orthodoxy will come from the selling of segulas.

Be nice to get back to the Torah and away from superstition.

MBM

Avi said...

If you keep the ring double wrapped, can you cook it in a treif oven? Or is that supposed to protect the bearer from the ring's effects until you can properly dispose of it in the fires of Modor? I'm confused.

Garnel Ironheart said...

Save your money and get the authentic replica Lord of the Rings Ring of Power at $30 on ebay. Comes with a chain, bag and the promise of world domination (although you have to hang out with orcs to get that)

Anonymous said...

I think that the MO crowd around here tends to overestimate the receptiveness of these ads in the haredi crowd.

I work in marketing and I do direct mail, so let me explain something which for me it's basic but it might not be for others: the profitability of a direct mail is based on the response rate (how many people will buy as a result of the ad).
The higher the dollar value of the product/service/donation, the lower the response rate needed to break even.

So, if the average person donates $100 to kupat hair and the direct mail costs $0.50, then if 0.5% (just 1 out of 100) of the recipients donate, they break even (to simplify, I'm not including other administrative costs).

If 2% or 3% or 5% respond, they can make a lot of $ assuming the mail large numbers of flyers.

With magazine ads, the cost of the ad is constant, but the response rate is calculated similarly.

I'm haredi, and I'm outraged at these ads just like everyone else, but so are most of my haredi friends.

I doubt that the response rate of any of these ads is more than 1-2% (perhaps more for kupat hair, but still less than 10%).

So why are people here are making assumptions about the future of orthodox jewry when 98% of haredim ignore these ads?

Yes, hamodia shouldnt be publishing this garbage but just because they accept the ad does not mean that their readers are running to get these segulos.

As a side point, the haredi society in israel, for example, is undergoing significant change that is not very widely reported in the US. The number of trade schools for haredim is growing rapidly, and it's becoming more and more accepted for men to leave kollel and pursue jobs. Additionally, many bais yaakov schools are offering higher level classes, such as accounting, taxation and other subjects that were not available years ago.

That's in Israel alone. In the US, the changes are more subtle but are happening too.

So, if I may suggest, let's get out of the internet and meet some real haredim out there before making predictions for the end of the world as we know it ...

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I meant 1 out of 200.

Anonymous said...

I think that the MO crowd around here tends to overestimate the receptiveness of these ads in the haredi crowd.

I work in marketing and I do direct mail, so let me explain something which for me it's basic but it might not be for others: the profitability of a direct mail is based on the response rate (how many people will buy as a result of the ad).
The higher the dollar value of the product/service/donation, the lower the response rate needed to break even.

So, if the average person donates $100 to kupat hair and the direct mail costs $0.50, then if 0.5% (just 1 out of 200) of the recipients donate, they break even (to simplify, I'm not including other administrative costs).

TBC...

Anonymous said...

...(continued)

If 2% or 3% or 5% respond, they can make a lot of $ assuming the mail large numbers of flyers.

With magazine ads, the cost of the ad is constant, but the response rate is calculated similarly.

I'm haredi, and I'm outraged at these ads just like everyone else, but so are most of my haredi friends.

I doubt that the response rate of any of these ads is more than 1-2% (perhaps more for kupat hair, but still less than 10%).

So why are people here making assumptions about the future of orthodox jewry when 98% of haredim ignore these ads?

Yes, hamodia shouldn’t be publishing this garbage but just because they accept the ad does not mean that their readers are running to get these segulos.

As a side point, the haredi society in israel, for example, is undergoing significant change that is not very widely reported in the US. The number of trade schools for haredim is growing rapidly, and it's becoming more and more accepted for men to leave kollel and pursue jobs. Additionally, many bais yaakov schools are offering higher level classes, such as accounting, taxation and other subjects that were not available years ago.

That's in Israel alone. In the US, the changes are more subtle but are happening too.

So, if I may suggest, let's get out of the internet and meet some real haredim out there before making predictions for the end of the world as we know it ...

Dave said...

Would Hamodia accept advertisements for Mail Order Bacon (shipped in a heimish box), or for a Mail-Order Movie Club?

After all, those might get enough of a response to merit the direct mail costs (well, the latter, probably not the former).

Orthonomics said...

Anonymous-Please pick a name here so we can identify one anon from the next. Maybe you can be Marketing Haredi?

While your analysis about response rate is interesting, it is just a side point to me. When it comes to kishuv and acts of or acts bordering on avodah zara, response rates and receptiveness don't matter to me. Torah is what matters and if we are going to burn our (Indian Hair) wigs because ---yes, I have many friends that burned or trashed their wigs--- of the possibility that the hair was obtained in a ceremony connected to avodah zara, the I suggest we be as makpid on these ads because they ARE changing the face of the Torah community, just as Starbucks changed coffee.

Anonymous said...

Why don't more of the 98% of chareidim who are supposedly more moderate speak out against the silliness? Why don't you cancel your subscriptions to these magazines, just like you cancel your subscriptions when publications are too liberal for your taste?

By the way, it's kishuf (with a fay).

JS said...

Anonymous,

I agree that it's likely a small percentage that believe in this stuff or go ahead and purchase/do these segulas. It doesn't take all that many response to make a profit as you point out. From a business perspective it makes perfect sense. The issue, though, is from a religious perspective.

Is this kind of stuff part of the religion or not? I pointed out above the slippery slope issue with segulos. If one works, why not others? If one is genuine why are the others shams?

As for the magazines and others that accept these ads, I think it's telling they'll accept money for ads like these, but won't put pictures of women in there (another area where people say it's just a miniscule number that care about this). They won't take an ad for a non-glatt restaurant and maybe they wouldn't take an ad from a wedding hall offering special deals on mixed seating.

Point is, it's telling what gets published and what is accepted (or tolerated) and what is not published, not accepted, and not tolerated.

If it really is a small minority who like this kind of stuff, where is the silent majority? Because I hate to tell you, but these people are becoming the public face of your community and are slowly changing what Orthodoxy means.

Orthonomics said...

Thanks anon above. I did know that :)

You are a different anon, right?

The marketing haredi who wrote the long text before said...

1) the hamodia management's decisions are not representative of the haredi public.

2) haredim dont cancel their subscriptions because there are few alternatives available. is yated any better?

3) most haredim dont speak out for the same reason that most religious zionists dont speak out against the extremists in their midst and many palestinians dont speak out against the extremists in their midst. the reality is that moderates in general dont speak out. that doesnt mean they dont exist.

Anonymous said...

Marketing chareidi,

Is it true that many chareidim don't speak out because of fear their children's shidduchim will be affected? This is the perception in the more modern communities.

Anonymous said...

http://njjewishnews.com/article/statewide/charter-opponents-seek-local-voting

Marketing Haredi said...

Yes, shiduchim can be part of it, but the main reason, seems to me, that we just don't feel that venting accomplishes anything.
There will always be a subset of haredim that do more than their fair share of keeping bloggers and journalists busy reporting their silliness, just like there'll always be a subset of democrats/republicans/zionists/liberals/reform/MO/conservative/hasidim that (fill in the blanks with something radical)....

Yes, there are wrong things out there, but as a haredi, I look at the alternatives out there and I still conclude that it's better to be haredi than anything else (I'm sure others arrive at different conclusions and I respect that).

It's like having a job that pays well and you enjoy it, but you share the office with a well-intentioned but annoying co-worker. You acknowledge his existence, but you don't necessarily quit or go complain about him to your boss. You just live with it.

Marketing Haredi said...

Orthonomics,
The whole topic of amulets, segulos and things alike is quite complex and it's difficult to say that these ads are kishuf al pi halacha.

Therefore, running these ads IS solely a business decision both for the seller and the publication and as long as 1.5% of their readers buy the products, they're in business.

I dont think that they're changing the face of orthodoxy, they're are just giving a haredi twist to questionable marketing practices, just like a Kahane follower acting on his beliefs might just be giving a zionist twist to a hamas-type ideology.

Orthonomics said...

"Solely a business decision"

Clearly the face of Hareidi Judaism is changing by the mere fact that someone can defend the peddling of shtus (the kindest label we can attach here) as "solely a business decision."

Miami Al said...

The problem with amulets is that they "work." It's like sports gambling advice.

I send out an email on Sunday with my NFL pick of the week, I put half on one side, half on the other, half the people think I'm a quack, the other half, I'm lucky.

The next week I send my picks to the winning half, half win, half lose, I'm down to a quarter of the people, but they are impressed.

Two weeks later I'm down to 1/16 of my list, but they all think that I nailed 4 weeks in a row, hey, I can make money off this!

Spread these nonsensical amulets around, some people will experience miraculous success.

Those people will credit their amulets with their increased fortune.

And some of those people, so moved by this religious experience, will become Rabbis.

And the next generation of normative Judaism will be taught the importance of amulets. And the 50% of the customers that had nothing happen and the 45% that had a "normal" success? They'll slink away quietly and never mention buying snakeoil... And nod silently while their son's Amulet Rebbe teaches him the important of segula wine.

Bob Miller said...

Other rabbis will always be around who object to amulet use, etc. The people who see no benefit in amulets, etc., or, more importantly, object to their use on theological grounds, will support these other rabbis.

marketing haredi said...

orthonomics,

i'm not defending anyone. as i said, i find these ads ridiculous and i wish the haredi newspapers had the backbone to reject these ads.

However, when you try to frame this as a halachic issue (of kishuf or worse), i just feel the need to point out that you cant assume something is assur and condemn others if you haven't really done your research to know if it's really assur.

yes, i agree, it's ridiculous, etc, but if it's not assur, then the hamodia decision is solely a business one.

yes, i wish they would be on a level to do things lifnim mishurat hadin (the morality which is beyond halachic standards), but you can't expect that from too many people. if it's mutar, they'll take the ad.

Dave said...

I wonder if they would take an advertisement for Cholov Stam products. Does anyone know?

Mr. Cohen said...

Should Jews wear red strings?
=================================

This message is condensed from an article by Rabbi Ahron Lopiansky from LIFESTYLE Magazine, September 2004:
=================================

Firstly, there is absolutely no genuine Kabbalistic source for wearing a red thread around the wrist to ward off the Evil Eye. It is NOT mentioned in any Kabbalistic work.

The Debrecyzner Rav mentions it, but his extensive search could NOT find a written source for the practice.

The Tosefta on tractate Shabbat, chapters 7:1 and 8:4 states that tying a red string around oneself is clearly PROHIBITED.

It is called Darchei Emori, a worthless, superstitious practice, close to idol-worship.

=================================
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tesyaa said...

Far more dangerous than a J-Witness handing out literature door to door or a young group of Mormons knocking

I find the abbreviation J-Witness humorous, reminds me of the classic scene from "Monty Python's Life of Brian".

Anonymous said...

Check out the comments at http://200kchump.blogspot.com/2011/06/new-element-discovered-at-our-local.html

Looks like a new school is opening up in Bergen County at only 8k tuition.

Ariella said...

In my view such ads debase any publication they appear in. It is misleading for any organization or individual to guarantee that its tzedaka or segula will achieve miracle. Dreams and wishes are only guaranteed to come in Disney films.

sethg-prime said...

I note that the silver-ring folks, like Kupat ha-Ir, suggest that their magic is powerful enough to save a “frum” criminal from going to prison.

Mark said...

Anon - I think that the MO crowd around here tends to overestimate the receptiveness of these ads in the haredi crowd.

I (an MO) have no idea what the level of receptiveness is in the Charedi crowd. I do, however, know that the receptiveness among the MO crowd is increasing steadily. And I worry about that as it is yet another thing chipping away at MO and moving its members to the right (while others are moving left for various other reasons), leaving me and my family in the middle "all alone".

I also especially worry that we (klal yisrael) are doing evil in the eyes of HKB"H. After all HKB"H told us pretty clearly to stay as far away from avoda zara as possible, and to avoid kishuf, etc. I greatly doubt that all these things are helping convince HKB"H to send mashiach to redeem us. But I clearly see why Chazal was so adamant about staying far away from anything related to avoda zara ... because it is so alluring.

Mergatroid said...

"the classic scene from 'Monty Python's Life of Brian'"

For those of us who haven't seen it, please share.

tesyaa said...

Google "stoning scene life of brian"

sammy said...

>Just like a Kahane follower acting on his beliefs might just be giving a zionist twist to a hamas-type ideology.<

How much more of a irresponsible comparison can one make? Go read some of RMK's books and articles and then tell us, with a straight face, how you can compare him to any Arab, least of all Hamas.

Ans while you're reading this, here are some thoughts re chareidim: As the most recognizable of Jews, they rightly or wrongly represent Judaism to many people. And since one finds much silliness as well as pathologies unique to their circles, it makes a tremendous Chillul Hashem.