Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Hocus Pocus or Proven Segula?: Precious Stones

Recently, as I was learning Degel Machaneh Ephraim, Parshas Vayikra on my lunch break, I came across a statement that caught my attention:

"...and also precious stones give vitality to man as is known by those who work with diamonds."

I have always thought that the use of crystals or precious stones for healing purposes was some sort of new-age hocus pocus. However, from what I have recently discovered, it appears that there are even seforim, such as "Segulot HaAvanim HaTovot", that are written about "the power of stones and gems for everyday life and healing."

In her book, "Diamond Stories: Enduring Change on 47th Street", Renee Rose Shield noted, "From the biblical era onward, abundant refences to diamonds occur in religious texts such as the Torah, Mishna, Midrash, and the Talmud. Special powers were attributed to diamonds...."

As I continued looking into the subject of using precious stones for healing purposes, I wrote to Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum of the Azamra Institute since he is the author of a book on Jewish teachings on healing. Rabbi Greenbaum responded,

"I don't know much about this subject, but the twelve tribes had their corresponding stones in the High Priest's breastplate, and since each tribe had its own unique qualities, these would obviously be associated with their corresponding stone. I don't even know where there is any serious discussion about the qualities of stones in the classic sources -- there may be brief references in Talmud, Midrash and Kabbalah, but I can't recall any sustained and detailed discussion. It would take some research to discover more on this, but I am sure there must been more, if only because Jews have been so involved in trading in jewels over the centuries. I do know that rubies are thought to have protective power against evil eye. One of Rabbi Nachman's stories is about a Prince who was made of Precious Stones -- check it out!"

With my friend Chabakuk Elisha's help, I found the link to the story here (The Prince Who was Made of Precious Stones - pages 62-65 on the .pdf) In this mysterious story Rebbe Nachman of Breslov wrote that a hidden tzaddik asked the king, "I need you to bring me all the varieties of precious stones. For each stone has a different power."

After the king brought all kinds of precious stones, the hidden tzaddik, "took them and crushed them. Then he took a cup of wine, and put the crushed stones in it, and gave half the cup to the king to drink, and half to the queen. And he [the hidden tzaddik] told them that they would have a son who would be made entirely of precious stones, and he would have all the powers of the stones."

From this story it seems that Rebbe Nachman of Breslov is continuing the teaching of his uncle, the Degel Machaneh Ephraim.

If anyone else has knowledge on the sources for Jewish teachings on the powers of precious stones please leave a comment. I am intrigued to find out more on this subject.

Perhaps knowledge of this subject led tzaddikim such as Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto and the Kopyczynitzer Rebbe to be counted among "those who work with diamonds".


At May 23, 2006 at 9:53:00 AM EDT, Blogger מיכאל said...

There is a yid in Baltimore named Rabbi Fishel Mael. He wrote a sefer on the different natures of the shvatim. It was highly praised by some very big people. I have learned a few pieces, here and there. Very brilliant and origninal. Anyway, I'm sure he has a m'halech in this. If you google around you can get his contact info and call him. He is a very nice, approachable person.

At May 23, 2006 at 1:38:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Michoel.

At May 23, 2006 at 7:58:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

two thinks:
first, i know that rabenu hakadosh in sefer hamidot writes that a leeter Hei in silver is a segula (i dont remember for what).
second: the orach haim also work whit diamonds.
kol tuv

At May 24, 2006 at 1:52:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Ilan: I never knew that. Thanks for the information.

At May 24, 2006 at 4:10:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your welcome, but i put wrong, its the Ohr Hachaim hakadosh, Rabbi Chaim ben Atar, not the "orach haim"

At May 24, 2006 at 7:41:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Ilan: Even more interesting! Do you know if he sold diamonds or was a diamond cutter?

At June 14, 2006 at 9:34:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gives new meaning to "diamonds are a girl's best friend." But, seriously, there are unique qualities attributies to the various gemstones that were in the chosen, as they are linked to attributes associated with the particular shevet. I will quote from R' Bachaya on P' Tetzave on my blog, which had a posting on a 5 Towns gmach being set up to offer rubies as segula for pregnant women.

At June 14, 2006 at 9:48:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Ariella: I look forward to seeing the quote. Please e-mail me when you have it posted.


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