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12

Sanhedrin 68a These were some of the final words of R' Eliezer, as he lay on his deathbed. 'Moreover, I have studied three hundred, (or, as others state, three thousand laws) about the planting of cucumbers [by magic] and no man, excepting Akiba b. Joseph, ever questioned me thereon. For it once happened that he and I were walking together on a road, ...


12

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 ...


10

Chicago Community Kollel - Parsha Encounters 4 Shevat 5768 in the name of Rabbi Yisrael Belsky Shlita, says that one may flip a coin to make a decision. When one flips a coin and makes a decision based on the results, he does not feel his decision is necessarily the right thing to do. Rather, he was undecided, and he is leaving his decision up to ...


10

The Gemara writes: "Abaye said, 'The laws about sorcery parallel the laws of [forbidden labor] on Shabbos. Some of them [i.e., some acts, are punishable] by stoning; some of them [leave the perpetrator] exempt [from stoning,] but [are nonetheless] forbidden; and some of them [are] permissible in the first place....[Actions that are] permissible in the first ...


10

The Darkei Tshuva discusses it. He quotes the Bnei Tzion (Siman 67) who was asked if one was allowed to do a procedure that he called "Magnetization", where one is put to sleep, and in his sleep the person would tell of events occurring far away, and of events occurring privately (in other words, Hypnosis). Being that according to nature it would be strange ...


9

It may be that Rambam would distinguish between whether the magician actually did some kind of action or not. Suppose, for example, you have someone who claims that he will use magic to harvest a field of cucumbers (the example given in the Mishnah, Sanhedrin 67a). There are, then, three possibilities: He performs some action (waving a wand, saying some ...


8

The question also appears in the responsa of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Yoreh Deah 3:44 thanks blockhead), asked way back in the 1950s. He writes that he spoke with someone who knows what hypnotism is; then consulted with Rabbi Yosef Eliyahu Henkin. Neither of them saw it as prohibited; the human mind is a complicated thing, and if using whatever mechanism ...


8

From Nefesh HaRav p233 "They asked our rabbi (R' Soloveitchik) if it is permitted for one to undergo hypnotism not for the sake of healing rather just for fun and games. Our rabbi answered that this is forbidden. Then they asked what sort of prohibition is involved in it? And our rabbi answered that is it "shtus" -- stupid -- and it is forbidden to be ...


8

Some people are careful to spill off a little bit of water (and other liquids?) before drinking, a practice explained in the Gemara (Chullin 105b, bottom) as due to concern that a shed may have drunk from it. However, most people don't worry about it.


8

Without getting into a distinction between magic and miracles (because in the end both are supernatural) the halacha (Yoreh Deah 179) states that all forms of k'shuf are forbidden except those performed through Sefer Yetzeirah. The Beis Yosef and others explain that the general principle is that the Sefer Yetzeirah discusses the use of combinations of ...


7

The Mishnah about Magic cucumbers appears in Sanhedrin. It discusses the case of whether a person used an actual maseh or just "achizas enayim" to raise cucumbers: ז,יא המכשף--העושה מעשה, ולא האוחז את העיניים. רבי עקיבה אומר משום רבי יהושוע, שניים לוקטין קישואים--אחד לוקט ופטור, ואחד לוקט וחייב; העושה מעשה חייב, והאוחז את העיניים פטור.


6

There are three main differences between Magic and Miracles. A miracle is a request to Hashem that is then granted, but it may not always be granted. While Magic is an attempt to subvert the will of Hashem and presumably is reliable. The ability of magic is limited. It can not create new things, can not raise the dead, and if it passes over fresh water it ...


5

As mentioned in your link, Targum pseudo-Jonathan identifies them in that verse saying: וקרא לחוד פרעה לחכימיא ולחרשיא ועבדו לחוד הינון יניס וימבריס חרשין דבמצרים בלחשי קוסמיהון היכדין:‏ And Pharoh called to the wise-men and the magicians, and they -- Yannis and Yambris, the magicians of Egypt -- did with their magic thus.


5

From the story of Shimon Ben Shetach and the 80 witches of Ashkelon, we see that the witches had to be touching the ground to perform witchcraft. The story is retold in several different places, but in Talmud Yerushalmi Sanhedrin Chapter 6 Halacha 6 (29A here), it says that Shimon Ben Shetach first had the witches perform their magic, and then asked them ...


5

What about the "Birchat Me'ein Sheva" at the end of the friday night prayers? Shulchan Aruch says that this was added so that the people in the synagogue should have extra time to finish their prayers, so that they could walk home together. The sages were worried about "Mazikim" (usually understood to be demons). Here's a link to the Paragraph in the ...


4

Ben Ish Hai (Shana Bet Parashat Pinehas sim. 13) actually endorses the Hamsa. A few months ago, I asked HaGaon HaRav Meir Elyiahu Shelit"a this question (question 108 on RabiMeir.com): שמעתי שקדן גדול בהיסטוריה, כי חמסה היא מן התרבות המוסלמית, ולכן החלטתי לתפוס לדעת כי היא, שאסור להשתמש בהם. האם זה נכון He answered: צורת החמסה אכן לקוחה מאגדה ...


4

Imagine there was a magician claiming to have a super-natural ability to turn water into blood, and you want to discredit him and prove that it's just a trick. You would need to perform the exact illusion that the magician was performing, turn water into blood. Doing the reverse would not discredit the initial "miracle" that the magician performed. ...


4

Rav Hirsch suggests an alternate explanation of the magicians’ behavior according to your suggestion: that they were attempting to undo the effects of the plague with no success—or in the case of the frogs, more frogs came when they attempted to banish them. After their third failure, they acknowledged that it was “God’s Finger” at work.


4

At least according to the Maaseh Rokeach on the Rambam, the Rambam did indeed believe in magic. (There's also another pirush on that page called דעת ומחשבה which says the same thing, but I have never heard of it.) His explanation is that the Rambam could not deny something that is stated in pesukim clearly (as evidenced by his halachos on punishments for ...


4

The rambam is very clear that there is no such thing as sorcery and that it's impossible for a person to do an act of sorcery. Nevertheless, the Rambam is honest regarding what the Talmud and Torah and halacha say about such a person. He isn't going to pretend that the halacha doesn't exist, just because there is no such thing as sorcery and there never ...


4

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 ...


4

Definitely it is real. See Masheches Shabbas 156: go through the whole gemara there, starting with where it says "Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi". It indicates that the day and time of someone's birth can affect him, though that there is a dispute as to whether Israel is affected by it.


3

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 ...


3

If you're assuming no astrology, magic, or other forms of mysticism, then one should look at political / sociological reasonings, with a historical context. Pharoah is known to relieve his advisors, if and when he believes they are of no use to him (often "relieving" them of their heads - see e.g. the story of Yosef...) Naturally, his advisors are ...


3

There is no magic today because there never was magic. Magic is what we humans call things which we do not understand. The more we learn about how the world works, the less things we can call magic. While people in generations prior to us, obviously felt that there was magic, in reality they are just describing situations which they think they understand ...


2

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan talks about this difference in this interview from 1979. He says that mystical manipulations are dangerous in general, but there are permitted and forbidden means of doing so. The main difference is the desire to connect to Hashem. However, even regarding the "permitted" techniques, there are Kabbalistic sources that say these are ...


2

As you've probably heard, some indicate that they had real power; others that it was all sleight-of-hand. I believe Maimonides (Rambam) among others have the latter view, with the former view more traditional based on the literal reading (and various Aggada statements as well). This is still debated by later commentaries as well.


2

Assuming the “astrologers” had no real power of prediction, we must understand what their plan was. What cause the astrologers to make up such a declaration? Perhaps there are two possible explanations to the astrologers plan. One approach is to suggest that the astrologers were working together with Pharaoh to come up with a plan to undermine Bnei Yisroel. ...


1

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 ...


1

I think, in the Rashi on Sanhedrin 44b, the subject of the sentence "He should lift one of them from the ground" is not referring to one of the witches, but to one of the jars that he distributed in the sentence before. As translated here: http://www.bmv.org.il/shiurim/sanhedrin/san080.html [Shimon ben Shetach] assembled eighty tall young men and ...



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