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Recently met a certain Rabbi with clairvoyant powers.

He was able to look at my name and tell me all sorts of spooky stuff. For example, that I have two mezuzas with problems. (I hired a sofer to check them all and indeed there were two with problems), many other things that he could not know.

The man is a torah scholar but not on the level of Gedolim. Apparently he was born with this "gift". Question is what is the jewish view of this. Is it permitted to ask such a person for advice?

For example, if I want a tutor for someone, I could either go through a long hassle of researching the right person, or go to him with a list of names, and he will tell me right away about each person and which one is compatible or not.

(I don't think he's using any "tricks" due to the number of things he could not possibly know. Also, when he looks at a name, his eyes light up like fire. Very impressive to watch. He must also have the mother's name. Apparently, he cannot see much without this. He told me once that even if the father is a big tzadik, without the mother's name "we cannot see him.")

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I think the issue here hinges on precisely how he's doing this. Certainly, some people might say that he's a fraud (even if he's a well-intentioned one), and that such tricks amount to "magic" and are, therefore, unreal. By others, however, there is a custom of seeking advice from such individuals. Similar powers are often attributed to Rabbi Yitzhak Kaduri, for example, and this is no different (practically speaking) to the advice that hasidim receive from their rebbes. For that reason, I think that some may dislike it, but none will be able to say that it's actually wrong. –  Shimon bM Jan 31 '13 at 11:45
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Very related and possible duplicate: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/14383/883 –  HodofHod Jan 31 '13 at 20:18
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@DoubleAA see the book shaarei kedusha by Rav Chaim Vital: he says clearly that even in our times it is possible for people to reach high levels and do things like foretell the future. –  ray Jan 31 '13 at 21:35
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@Shraga See "Faith and Folly" by R' Hillel –  Shmuel Brin Feb 1 '13 at 0:07
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Comments deleted: Let us stipulate that some people sincerely believe that these powers are real and others sincerely believe that they are not. Please take further discussion to chat; comments here are meant to seek clarification of the question and provide pointers to other resources. Thank you. –  Monica Cellio Feb 1 '13 at 2:47

3 Answers 3

That would depend at what kind of advice you're asking. I asked this question to one of my Rebbeim once, concerning a mekubal who undeniably had such powers, but who I had no reason to consider a Gadol or Tzaddik. I wasn't even sure whether he's a Talmid Chacham. What my Rebbi told me made a lot of sense. He said if one is simply going for a Bracha, go to an established Gadol. If you're going to him because you have a tzara, and the mekubal may tell you what in your behavior is causing you that tzara, then by all means go. His reasoning was as follows: Practical Kabbalah includes such practices as Chochmat Hapartzuf and Chochmat Hayad, which allows the mekubal versed in them to know detailed information about a person by examining his face or the palm of his hand. This way the mekubal can sometimes know that a person is transgressing a certain Aveirah, and that that transgression is what is causing his tzara. Therefore going to a knowledgeable mekubal can be productive in helping people with certain troubles.

Someone I know was having specific medical problems for several years, and the doctors couldn't help him. A mekubal then told his relative that he was beshogeg being oveir on a certain aveirah. He told him to tell his relative to be careful with xyz. A few weeks later, the problem was gone.

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How could someone who isn't a Talmid Chacham have these powers? –  Double AA Jan 31 '13 at 18:51
    
Especially if they're a "mekubal". The name implies knowledge of kabbalah (=Torah). –  HodofHod Jan 31 '13 at 18:56
    
A mekubal who IS a talmid chacham once told me that some people learn "Kabbala Maasit" which allows them to "manipulate" the world in ways that look supernatural. But he was emphatic about the fact that such people usually end up in a bad way. –  Shraga Jan 31 '13 at 18:58
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I agree completely that you shouldn't be asking questions to any 'mekubal' who doesn't know Bavli and Shulchan Aruch cold as well. –  Double AA Jan 31 '13 at 19:09
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It would seem from the Rambam in Hilchot Avoda Zara Chapter 11 (Hebrew, English) that such practices are strictly forbidden and contrary to the spirit of Judaism.

Here are some particularly relevant selections:

It is forbidden to practice soothsaying as idolaters do, as [Leviticus 19:26] states: "Do not act as a soothsayer."

What is meant by a soothsayer? For example, those who say: Since my piece of bread fell out of my mouth, or my staff fell from my hand, I will not travel to this place today, since if I were to go I would not be able to accomplish my desires.

Since a fox passed on my right side, I will not go out of my door today, since if I were to go out I would meet a deceiver.

Similarly, [this category includes] those who hear the chirping of a bird and say: This will happen or this will not happen; it is beneficial to do this or it is detrimental to do this. [Also, it includes] those who say: Slaughter this rooster that crowed like a raven; slaughter this hen that crowed like a rooster.

Similarly, a person who sets up omens for himself; e.g., if this and this happens, I will do this. If it will not happen, I will not do it, as Eliezer, the servant of Abraham did, and the things of the like - all this is forbidden. Anyone who does one of these things because of such omens is [liable for] lashes.

(Halacha 4)

What is meant by a diviner? This refers to a person who performs certain deeds to cause him to fall into a trance and have his mind cleared of all thoughts until he can predict the future, saying, "This will happen" or "This will not happen;" or saying, "it is proper to do such and such. Be careful to do so."

(Halacha 6)

It is forbidden to divine or to inquire of a diviner. A person who inquires of a diviner is given "stripes for rebelliousness." In contrast, the diviner himself is [punished by] lashes if he performs one of the above or other similar acts, as [Deuteronomy 18:10] states: "There shall not be found among you one who passes..., one who practices divination."

(Halacha 7)

Who is a fortuneteller? A person who tries to predict auspicious times, using astrology and saying, "This day will be a good day," "This day will be a bad day," "It is appropriate to perform a particular task on a certain day"; or "This year" or "This month will not be opportune for this particular matter."

(Halacha 8)

It is forbidden to tell fortunes. [This applies] even though one does not perform a deed, but merely relates the falsehoods which the fools consider to be words of truth and wisdom. Anyone who performs a deed because of an astrological calculation or arranges his work or his journeys to fit a time that was suggested by the astrologers is [liable for] lashes, as [Leviticus 19:26] states: "Do not tell fortunes."

Also included in the scope of this prohibition is one who performs magic tricks and deludes those who observe him into thinking that he performs wonders although he is not doing so. He is [liable for] lashes.

(Halacha 9)

All the above matters are falsehood and lies with which the original idolaters deceived the gentile nations in order to lead them after them. It is not fitting for the Jews who are wise sages to be drawn into such emptiness, nor to consider that they have any value as [implied by Numbers 23:23]: "No black magic can be found among Jacob, or occult arts within Israel." Similarly, [Deuteronomy 18:14] states: "These nations which you are driving out listen to astrologers and diviners. This is not [what God... has granted] you."

Whoever believes in [occult arts] of this nature and, in his heart, thinks that they are true and words of wisdom, but are forbidden by the Torah, is foolish and feebleminded. He is considered like women and children who have underdeveloped intellects.

The masters of wisdom and those of perfect knowledge know with clear proof that all these crafts which the Torah forbade are not reflections of wisdom, but rather, emptiness and vanity which attracted the feebleminded and caused them to abandon all the paths of truth. For these reasons, when the Torah warned against all these empty matters, it advised [Deuteronomy 18:13]: "Be of perfect faith with God, your Lord."

(Halacha 16)

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Isaac Moses, how is your answer relevant to the OP's question? He doesn't write anywhere that the mekubal tried to tell his future, predict auspicious times, predict fortunes or employ astrology??? –  Shraga Jan 31 '13 at 20:11
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Additionally, judaism.stackexchange.com/q/14383/883. Actually, this seems to be a dupe of that. –  HodofHod Jan 31 '13 at 20:17
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@R.Sebag, The Rambam's words here are very strong, and he doesn't appear to take care to say, "but it's OK if you say you're frum and were born with kosher powers or if you learned this stuff through Kabala," despite the fact that he does clearly take care to distinguish a different permitted variant in Halacha 5. –  Isaac Moses Jan 31 '13 at 20:32
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@DoubleAA, I have no doubt that there are those whose worldviews differ from that of the Rambam and who therefore differ with him on the Halacha here. Alternative answers citing those authorities are welcome. –  Isaac Moses Jan 31 '13 at 21:23
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@Shraga, if you see a heter in the Rambam for claiming to be born with a gift of clairvoyance and then making spooky-eyed predictions after looking at people's names, you can cite it. In addition, if you can cite a different posek who permits such a practice, you can post an alternative answer. –  Isaac Moses Feb 1 '13 at 10:16
up vote 3 down vote accepted

found a rare audio by the famous kabalist Rabbi Yaakov Hillel see: http://audio.ohr.edu/track/id=521

there he says that such people DO exist, but one must be careful who to trust. He says "I can take you to arabs with such powers". He explains there the criteria for testing who is from the side of good and who is from the other side.

Interestingly, I went to someone in the Bucharim area of Jerusalem many years ago (called Chacham Betzalel) who had a reputation for such powers. When I went to see him, he asked me my name which he wrote down. Then he asked me my father's name and wrote it down. He then looked at the paper for a second and wrote down my mother's name without even asking me! He then told me lots of interesting things. However, I went to Rabbi Yaakov Hillel and asked him about this man. He told me "yes, I know him. Don't trust him." Later on, I found out he uses kochos hatuma (powers of evil). So use extreme caution with such people. see above audio link by Rabbi Hilel for identifying real tzadikim.

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Four questions. One: Is it impossible that anyone (or even you unknowingly) could have told him your mother's name before you read his writing of her name? Is it impossible that he has some kind of census list that someone searches and tells him in an ear piece? Two: Did he ask you for money? Three: Was there any changing hands of the paper involved? cardopolis.blogspot.com/2004_09_12_archive.html - Four: Can you tell us any other things he knew about you? –  A L Aug 26 '13 at 6:06
    
@AL I met several people like this already. there's one chabad woman in LA that can do this over the phone (so obviously not palmreading). (she wants $ though but you get 1/2 hour). Strange enough they have a hard time seeing those with higher "powers" than themselves. i just gave her my name and could then ask things about myself or other people. she was right on target. –  ray Aug 26 '13 at 7:10
    
What specifically were the kinds of things you asked her? Your description of the woman sounds no different than the television call-in psychics that are known to be scams. –  A L Aug 26 '13 at 19:15
    
@AL mostly she just talked on her own and told me personal things about me and others she could not have known. no way to fake it. –  ray Aug 26 '13 at 21:16
    
Based only on what you said it sounds exactly like other phone or drop-in psychic scams (e.g. where they use educated guesses and hope you focus on certain details, or even where someone informs them secretly about you, and sometimes they'll use some whitepages.com or ancestry.com service to "know" things), and I recommend you do some research on the topic before you conclude for certain it is paranormal or clairvoyance. I know that's starting to get off-topic, but the halacha of permissibility might depend on if someone is actually spiritual or if they make a good show of pretending to be. –  A L Aug 27 '13 at 17:19

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