Josh just posted his take on the picture of Reb Yeshayaleh of Kerestierer. He connects it to the Christian (or perhaps, taking it even further back, the pagan) idea of a patron saint. I had thought about that connection as well; truth is, it exists in pretty much every culture. That's why I don't think it's 'darkei ha-Emori'; people don't put up the picture to 'be like goyim. They put it up to get rid of the darn mice.
I think I figured out the secret to this segulah, though. As I was reading Josh's post, my 16-month old son was running around the room. when he saw the picture on my screen, he exclaimed "Cat! Meow!". I actually repeated the experiment twice more. He identified the picture as a cat in 2 of the 3 instances, and just looked and smiled in the third instance. So perhaps that's it; Reb Yeshayalah, in this picture, anyway, looks somewhat catlike. Perhaps there's something to this. I have heard of people hanging pictures of owls as a 'segulah' to ward off pigeons. Alternatively, my son has a limited vocabulary and his cognitive development has placed him at the beginning of the Piagettian stage of symbolic representation. If something moves but does not look like an immediate family member, it is a 'cat'. Mice, on the other hand, can probably distinguish between 'cat's' an 'things which move but do not like to eat us or kill us'.
Two harry Potter-related questions:
- Would a pic of Reb Yeshayaleh have warded off Scabbers? Might depend how the segulah works, no?
- What would Reb Yehsayaleh's Patronus have been? A mouse or a cat?
Finally, I have a cousin who works for a company which makes glue traps. I suggested to him that if he would start putting the picture of R' Yeshayaleh on the package, he would absolutely corner the Chassidishe mousetrap market, which is no doubt formidable. If you're reading this, I expect a cut ;-)