What is a Segulah?
A segulah can be literally translated as a charm, an action that a person does to effect a certain change in circumstance. There are segulos to merit a yeshuah (salvation) in many areas of life, such as for finding one’s shidduch (ordained match), for having children, safe childbirth, as well as many segulos for parnassah (livelihood) and an abundance of blessing.
Jews don’t believe in luck or good-luck charms, so how does a segulah actually work? Segulos are usually a spiritual action, such as saying a specific prayer, or doing an action that demonstrates a spiritual belief. These types of actions work to elevate a person, so that he becomes worthy of the yeshuah (salvation) he is looking for.
Another explanation (found in the Ran) is that segulos are like medicine. There might be a certain medicine prescribed for a specific illness, but it won’t work for every patient. Similarly, a segulah will be prescribed for a specific circumstance, but it doesn’t work in the same way for every person.
Therefore, if you are experiencing difficulty in the area of parnassah, such as when you need to look for a new job or you need new financing for your business, you might consider doing a segulah for livelihood as a merit for a yeshuah. Think of it as a means of parnassah self help.
Here is an overview of many segulos for parnassah and what they are all about.
An Overview: Segulah for Parnassah
You can always fulfill a segulah for parnassah and hope for increased livelihood. But there are situations when you are having difficulty in your business or finding a job, and then you might be looking for a yeshuah in parnassah. During those times, doing one of the actions on this list can be a conduit for your complete salvation.
Each of the following segulos are source-based and time-honored in Jewish tradition.
- Learn Torah
Many sefarim mention Torah learning as a segulah for livelihood. Some sefarim say specifically to learn Gemara on a regular basis, others say to learn Mishnah. But either way, whatever you choose to learn, setting a time to learn before you start to deal with business matters is the most ideal.
Being careful to learn Torah before doing business demonstrates an understanding of where livelihood truly comes from.
- Pour a Lot of Water at Netilas Yadayim (Washing of hands before bread)
This segulah for increasing wealth is known for thousands of years, as it is mentioned in the Gemara (Talmud,) which is what most Jews study today.
It goes as follows: While washing Netilas Yadayim before eating bread, you should pour a lot of water on each hand to make sure that the hand is fully washed, as halachah (Jewish law) dictates. The Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) quotes the Gemara that being generous with the amount of water you pour is a segulah for livelihood.
But the catch is that you can’t add water when you wash just in order to get rich. If the only thing you’re thinking about is the segulah for wealth, this segulah won’t work. Instead, you should concentrate on fulfilling the mitzvah of Netilas Yadayim as best as possible.
- Recite Parshas Hamon, the Tefillah for Parnassah
It’s well known that the Rebbe Reb Menachem Mendel of Rimanov said that reciting Parshas Hamon (the verses in the Torah that describe how the Jews received the manna) on the Tuesday of Parshas Beshalach (the week whose Torah portion contains the verses of Parshas Hamon) is a segulah for parnassah.
This is such a powerful prayer for parnassah because the words describe how Hashem took care of us in the desert, providing the Jewish nation with manna every day. Saying the words reminds us that just as Hashem took care of us then, so too Hashem is taking care of us now. Increasing these feelings of reliance on Hashem through saying this tefillah every day is a wonderful way to make yourself deserving of more blessing.
You don’t need to wait until the middle of the winter for the specific Tuesday of Parshas Beshalach to say Parshas Hamon and see the blessings on your livelihood efforts. Our Sages tell us that someone who says Parshas Hamon every day will never lack for livelihood. In fact, there are many stories told of people who took advantage of this segulah for a good income, and indeed, even in the worst financial situations such as war, they didn’t lack for food.
- Be Careful with Birkas Hamazon, the Blessing of Parnassah
Many sefarim mention being careful with Birkas Hamazon (Grace after Meals), with the assurance that anyone who is careful with this will never be lacking. Therefore, when you bentch (recite the Grace after Meals), you should try to concentrate on the words you are saying. In this bracha (blessing), we express gratitude to Hashem for our current sustenance, as well as adding a prayer for parnassah to be provided in the future.
Saying both of these aspects with concentration reminds us that Hashem provides our sustenance, and that knowledge in itself makes us deserving of continued abundance. Specifically, you should concentrate when reciting the words at the end of the first blessing, “Posei’ach es yadecha umasbia l’chol chai ratzon.” (You Hashem open up Your Hand and satisfy every living being’s desire.)
Some sources say to recite Birkas Hamazon out loud, in a joyful tune. If possible, doing so can also be an aid to concentration.
Because Birkas Hamazon is a blessing in which we thank Hashem for providing for us, enhancing our recital of it is a very appropriate segulah for increasing wealth. Expressing our gratitude in the best way makes us deserving of so much more.
- Buy a New Knife for Rosh Hashanah
Jewish tradition teaches that your parnassah for the year is decreed on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). So it makes sense to have a special segulah just for this time of the year, and indeed, the segulah you can fulfill just before Rosh Hashanah is to buy a new knife before the holiday.
The knife is a reference to the words of the Rosh Hashanah prayer, “Hachoteich chaim l’chol chai,” which literally means that Hashem “slices” life for every living being. Buying the new knife symbolizes your hope to be included in this slice of life, which refers to livelihood.
- Bake Schlissel Challah, the Key to Parnassah
Another time-dependent segulah for parnassah is that of making schlissel challah (key bread). Baking challah for Shabbos is always a mitzvah (good deed), but there’s one week when the challah has special significance. That week is the week immediately after Pesach, when the Jewish nation has abstained from challah and all leaven bread for seven days.
The segulah is to either bake a key into the challah, or to form the challah in the shape of a key. Many people do both. When eating the schlissel challah, the idea is to remember that Hashem holds the key to all sustenance. Eating the “key challah” symbolizes your hope that Hashem will turn the key and open the door wide to abundant sustenance.
Tefillah for Parnassah
More than through a segulah, tefillah (prayer) is the way that the world is set up for us to receive everything we need and want. Even when it is already decreed for us to get parnassah, the only way we can access it is through asking Hashem to give it to us.
While we are obligated to do hishtadlus (put in effort) to earn a living, it isn’t our efforts that actually bring us income. Rather, it’s coming straight from Hashem. Our job is to put in the effort while acknowledging this truth, and by asking Hashem to provide our sustenance, we demonstrate this belief.
Tefillah for parnassah can be done in your own words, simply asking Hashem to send you the livelihood you need. There’s no reason not to take advantage of prayer for parnassa in English, too, since Hashem understands all languages, and you may find it easier to say heartfelt prayers in a language you can relate to.
Saying Tehillim (Psalms) for parnassah is also a wonderful way to utilize the segulah of tefillah for parnassah. In order to say Tehillim, you don’t need to know what Tehillim to say for parnassah. You can say any Tehillim chapters, and they will be a merit for you. However, if you are looking for a job, or simply seeking greater financial stability, the following Tehillim chapters are recommended: 23, 104, 128, 145.
There are also several tefillos (prayers) that we say every day which have extra power when said with concentration as a parnassah prayer. One such tefillah is the bracha (blessing) of Shomea Tefillah (‘He Who Listens to Prayer’ – the blessing that precedes Ritzei) in Shemoneh Esrei (the Standing Prayers.)
Having extra concentration while reciting this tefillah is a powerful merit that helps specifically in the area of parnassah. Similarly, having more concentration when reciting the blessings before and after eating is specifically a merit for more livelihood.
Any Jewish prayer for parnassah is really an expression of belief that Hashem is the One Who sends our livelihood. The words we say in prayer to declare this belief are said a few times a day in Ashrei (a Psalm said 3 times through the day in formal prayers). This is the verse mentioned above in this article, “Posei’ach es yadecha u’masbia l’chol chai ratzon.” Its meaning is that Hashem opens His hand and satisfies every living creature’s desire.
Just as focusing on the meaning of these words in Birkas Hamazon is a powerful segulah, remembering to focus on these words during prayer is also a great merit for parnassah.