From Shmais.com comes this exciting offer of not one, but two segulos from the organization Chaya Mushka Yad leKallah...
Double Segulah for shidduch or any other blessings…until this Wed.
For segulah#1, all you have to do is give a contribution destitute Anash in Israel who are struggling to marry off their children.
Segulah #2 is available in two versions. A representative of Chaya Mushka Yad leKallah will be traveling to the grave of Yonasan ben Uziel for his yahrtzeit on 26 Sivan (this Thursday). For a small donation of $100, you can send the name of the person for whom you want divine favors with the representative.
However, for a donation of $300, you can get the segulah super deluxe. In addition to having your name (or the name of someone you want prayed for) to the grave, you can also write a full letter that he will read for you there, as well as at the grave of Rachel, the wife of Rabbi Akiva, R. Shimon bar Yochai, R. Meir Ba'al Hanes and R. Yehuda bar Ilai.* You can use that letter to pray for shidduchim, livelihood, health or anything else at all.
Hurry now! Don't let this valuable opportunity to curry Divine favor pass you by! Make sure you get your brownie points upstairs!!
OK, all sarcasm aside, I think that this reflects two sorry aspects of the way we as a community do things in the charity fundraising world.
The first sorry aspect is the way that "segulah" has become the new marketing buzzword of the tzedaka business. Everything is a segulah these days. Give to this organization, it's a segulah. Give to that organization, it's a segulah. What's it a segulah for? Shidduchim? Yeah, it's good for that. Livelihood? Yep, got you covered there too. Getting rid of warts? Sure, why not?
Back when I was kid, there was a word for that... prayer. But nowadays it appears that to be competitive in the market for the ever-scarce tzedaka dollar, you can't simply say that you'll daven for someone. You have to use the term "segulah." In fact, you might say that using the term "segualah" is a segulah in itself... to increase contributions. And, of course, one segulah is not enough. To truly complete, you have to offer the double segulah, with a super deluxe option.
The second sorry aspect of this whole thing is that the entire meaning behind the mitzvah gets completely lost. Heck, I'm all in favor of helping out destitute people. I don't personally know anything about Chaya Mushka Yad leKallah, but I'd give better than even odds that they are an organization that does wonderful things to help people get married. Giving to people in need is a great mitzvah, whether it's to help with their everyday expenses or for those once-in-a-lifetime events like marriage.
But these organizations are beginning to realize that it's far better to tell people what "in it for them" rather than about the good work that they do. Notice that there is not one word in the advertisement that tells how many people Chaya Mushka Yad leKallah helped to get married, or what their goals are for the next two years. There's no mention of how many poor Anash were helped in Israel through this program over the last year, or how many people they plan to try to help this year. It's no longer about actually helping people who need help, it's about getting as many Divine brownie points as you can. And that's just sad.
* Did Rachel, Rabbi Akiva's wife, actually marry all those other tanaaim after his death? Seems unlikely to me given what her age must have been. Or am I reading it wrong and it's her grave and the graves of the other tanaaim?