How kosher "Chicken Soup for the Soul" is produced

I saw the following posting on one of the frum Yahoo groups:
Do you have an incredible story you'd like to share about that time you
gave tzedakah and unexpectedly received so much more in return? Do you
have a special miracle that "coincidentally" occurred right after you
gave ma'aser (10%), or any other type of charitable donation?
With great excitement for the upcoming bestseller about the miracle of
giving charity, we would like to invite you to contribute your own
personal and inspirational stories to be included in this incredibly
touching book. The goal of the book is to inspire people to open up
their hearts and allow abundance to flow in and out of their lives
through keeping the one mitzvah that Hashem welcomes everyone to test
Him with – Tzedakah - Charity.
Please let us know if you would like your name to remain anonymous, and
we will gladly change it for the book. We are looking forward to
reading your wonderful stories!

Now my cynical observation on this is twofold: One, it is very easy for someone to get out a book when all the material is provided by others. Two, such works could be categorized under the logical fallacy of "stacking the deck," [ For every person for whom it has worked out, there could be ten for whom it hasn't, but they do not get represented. ] not to mention the "post hoc" or faulty causation fallacy [B may follow A, but that does not mean that A caused B]. Yes, there is a power to tzedaka. However, there is a danger to leading people on with a work that makes it appear to be a "guaranteed" avenue to getting what you want. This announcement didn't mention segulas, but points to the same type of magical thinking with which certain sgulos are promoted. While tzedaka is most assuredly a good thing and is permitted to be done for ulterior motives (as in selah ze al manas sheyichye beni), there are many factors in the direction of people's lives and wishes don't always come true.

Comments

Zadok said…
I understand your POV but do not share it since Chazel also made a point of relating stories similar to the focus of this upcoming book.
Ariella said…
Thank you for pointing that out Zadok. Nevertheless, the Gemara presents a more balanced and less simplistic view by including the story that appears to contradict the promise oaf a reward of long life for kibud av and shiluah hakan (also popularized into a sgula as discussed in my post: http://kallahmagazine.blogspot.com/2008/04/bye-bye-birdie-hello-promises.html)

The Talmud relates (Chulin 141a) a story that raises serious questions about the promised rewards of these commandments. Elisha ben Avuiah once observed a father telling his son to climb a ladder to a bird’s nest and send away the mother bird. The boy fell off the ladder and died. Elisha was stunned. The boy had been fulfilling the two commandments for which the Torah promises goodness and long life. How could he possibly fall to his death while doing these things? And thus Elisha became the famous apostate, “Acher”. The Talmud wonders, why indeed did this happen? “Good” and “long life,” the Talmud explains, refer to the next world, the eternal world of righteous souls, which is all good and endlessly long.

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