From a comment to the previous post:
"If I recall correctly, you are not a fan of rational taamei hamitzvot, but rather believe that they are beyond our ability to understand, and may all have mystical ends rather than rational ends. If so, please explain the difference between a segulah and not eating a cheeseburger. I can't see any."
The point of the previous post (as I clarified in the comments) was not that I reject segulos because they are irrational. Rather, I reject the mass advertising of “get spiritually rich quick” ideas of any sort. Avodas Hashem, as the words literally mean, is about work – there are no shortcuts and no quick fixes. Preying on people’s naïve beliefs and offering these fixes packaged with all the gloss of what appears to be frumkeit misrepresents Judaism and borders on stealing.
The Torah makes no claim that not eating a cheeseburger alone guarantees any tangible reward in this world (see Chulin 142), neither in terms of health, longer life, or even spiritual protection from harm. This is a case in point illustrating one reason why I am not a pure rationalist when it comes to explanations for mitzvos. We do find claims in the Rishonim that not eating a cheeseburger will keep you healthy, which undoubtedly made sense in the Middle Ages, but given the health and vigor of a great many Jews who eat cheeseburgers, lobster, etc. without suffering immediate cardiac arrest these claims lead to greater doubt than understanding. The well meaning people who tout any study that comes out “proving” the health benefits of mitzvos just continue this same sort of wrong thinking. Physical reward of any sort should never be the motivation to do mitzvos, and is not even a guaranteed byproduct. If this is true of a mitzvah commanded by G-d, it would certainly seem spurious to think reciting 40 chapters of tehillim or saying Shir haShirim in and of itself produces some sort of physical reward or gain.
The mistaken thinking driving these quick fixes is based on a false concept of reward and punishment people pick up early in life. In first grade we learn G-d rewards good people and punishes bad; G-d controls our destiny and watches us from harm. We also learn about the tooth fairy, the boogie man, and listen to fairy tales. Fortunately, we eventually come to realize the tooth fairy is false (or we run out of teeth to lose in any case), but unfortunately, the naïve beliefs about G-d cling to many people for a lifetime. The net result is people who walk around thinking G-d never causes bad things to happen to good people (not true – see Chulin 142), he will suspend the forces of nature to protect the innocent from hardship and harm (see Shabbos 156), he will assure that true believers suffer not when their enemies choose to harm them (see here), and who will come to the rescue miraculously if a single good deed is done to tip the scales to a person’s favor. My five year old who still believes the tooth fairy leaves money under her pillow (her sisters have since learned better) will undoubtedly accept the notion that tying a red string around her arm would protect her from harm. But adults should know better.
The point was made that it is hard to challenge firmly held beliefs (or to convince people to challenge their own thinking) because once doubt and uncertainty have been unleashed, they become difficult forces to reign in and control. But if we can teach kids to read a pasuk in a more sophisticated less-literal manner than they learn in first grade without concern, I don’t see why we can’t teach kids to have a more sophisticated understanding of Jewish belief than they develop in first grade. The problem, of course, is that no yeshiva curriculum does this. The system, as students mature, focuses more and more narrowly on the legal hairsplitting of gemara learning and lomdus (which anyone who reads this blog knows I appreciate as well) without ever exposing students to thinking about belief in a systematic and mature way. At best, a narrow channel of a specific thinker is emphasized, be it the Rav, Rav Hutner, Rav Kook, Slabodka mussar, etc. but no broader appreciation of Jewish thought is ever developed. So we remain fixated on and reinforce the same level of faith we had in first grade, and those who challenge these core beliefs come to reject the system they have been raised on as foolish, unsophisticated, immature, and unsatisfying.
I don't think we need to pass judgment on mysticism as a whole to reject its misuse. Sadly, the syetem as it exists does reinforce the type thinking that validates these ads, but I don't look for anyone in the "establishment" to tackle this issue any time soon. I have no fear that critical thinking will endanger the halachic system, but it may indeed bring down a great number of false idols that the "establishment" has come to rely on.