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How are sorcery or witchcraft viewed in Judaism? I have heard that it has something to do with Kabbalah. Please correct me if I am wrong. Also Solomon (may peace and blessings be upon him) is falsely accused of having exercised control over demons and genies in his reign with the help of sorcery.

According to David Livingston, author of The Dying God, the Kabbalah is a system of magic and sorcery developed by Jews during their exile in Babylon.

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related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/14383/759 –  Double AA Mar 28 '12 at 12:11
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All sorts of people up-ed this question, as if the claim that Jews made up a system of "magic" in Babylonian exile isn't absurd and blemishing to the authenticity of our religion. –  Aman Apr 4 '12 at 22:07
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@Aman I upvoted, FWIW. The question is valid, and the questioner, polite. There is a lot of misinformation about Kabbalah out there, and someone coming here for the truth definitely deserves an upvote. The "system of magic" claim, is not made by the questioner but rather by some author who thinks he knows Jewish mysticism. There's no reason to be upset at Maxood just because he read a book by someone who didn't know what he was talking about. –  HodofHod May 8 '12 at 12:40
    
Btw, Maxood, if my answer doesn't properly address some part of your question, please let me know and I'll do my best to fix that. –  HodofHod May 8 '12 at 19:01
    
@HodofHod Your answer is indeed based on truth! I being a Muslim cannot tolerate any of the Prophets (may peace and blessing be upon them) to be falsely accused of such evils. This is exactly what Islam teaches and stresses upon as well. –  Maxood May 11 '12 at 12:01

1 Answer 1

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Sorcery and witchcraft are explicitly forbidden by the Torah. Period. However, there are other methods of manipulating nature that do not fall into the category of "sorcery". For example, when a prophet or a tzaddik performs a miracle, they do it with G-d's implicit help and/or permission.

Mystically, the difference between these two methods (sorcery and G-d given miracles), is their sources. When G-d created the world, He created spiritual forces of purity and impurity, and forbade the latter (cf. Deuteronomy 30:19). (Judaism does not believe in the autonomy of evil). Sorcery draws from the powers of "impurity" in the world, and as such, is forbidden. Miracles and Practical Kabbalah draw from the forces of purity (kedusha) and are therefore permitted.


As far as King Solomon's control over demons, all the stories I've heard of that involve his using pure forces (specifically, names of G-d), to capture and bind them. From the Talmud, Gittin 68a:

...Solomon then sent Benaiahu son of Yehoyada, giving him a chain on with the [Divine] Name engraved and a ring with the Name engraved...


Oh, and David Livingston? I would say that he's wrong, but the fact is that English does not really differentiate between magic and miracle. They both defy nature, and when performed by a person, they fall under the blanket of the English word "magic". Rest assured, though, there is no magic or sorcery involved.

While your question is not really a duplicate as worded, most of this information is available on other questions on this site.
See further: Why is practical kabbalah not considered kishuf?, Did the prophets practice magic?

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An interesting read of D 30:19 –  Double AA Mar 28 '12 at 15:42
    
@DoubleAA My understanding is that that pasuk is (among other things) a general statement about evil (including klippah). –  HodofHod Mar 28 '12 at 15:47
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@HodofHod, could you bring a source that kabbala and sorcery are similar except that they use opposite sides of sanctity? –  YDK Mar 28 '12 at 15:52
    
@YDK, They're not that similar at all. They also differ in methods, uses, and practitioners. The only similarity is that they can both be used to defy nature. –  HodofHod Mar 28 '12 at 19:52
    
@YDK Also, in general in Kabbalah, evil and sin come from Klippah, while holiness and mitzvos come from Kedusha. Therefore, by the very fact that magic is forbidden, it gets its life force from Klippah, and the fact that Practical Kabbalah is used for the service of G-d means it comes from Kedusha (or perhaps the Kedusha from within Klipas Nogah). –  HodofHod Mar 28 '12 at 19:55

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