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It involves throwing sticks or stones and each section is related to a particular part in the process of manifestation and dissipation. Jungians do not understand it as divination but a kind of revealing of the unconscious. Any thoughts as to whether this falls under the issur of magic?

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  • revach.net/ask/article.php?id=1998
    – Dov
    Jul 29, 2021 at 11:31
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    Based on, e.g., the Rambam Laws of Sanhedrin 2:1: "We appoint to a Sanhedrin...only men of wisdom... They should also have some knowledge concerning... astrology, and also the practices of fortune-telling, magic, sorcery, and the hollow teachings of idolatry, so that they will know how to judge them." - I don't see how this can be excluded as "comparative religion". The OP is asking whether a specific practice is allowed in Judaism - perhaps he should provide more relevant details - but he's not really asking about comparing religions.
    – Loewian
    Jul 30, 2021 at 3:56
  • (Also, for the record, I don't see that it would matter if an ov or yidoni considered their practices to not be "divination".)
    – Loewian
    Jul 30, 2021 at 4:00
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    How is this comparative religion? Why do you target my posts? Aug 2, 2021 at 7:32
  • Are any chants or incantations said during the process? Is there some kind of ceremony involved?
    – Chatzkel
    Aug 3, 2021 at 22:18

2 Answers 2

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I think the question can be answered when broken down into parts: You'd be hard pressed to call it divination when even its own users do not consider it to be that. However, I think therefore that the permissibility of this method simply depends on what the perceived mechanism of the process is.

  1. If it is supernatural, then it is either following omens, which is forbidden, or belief in a source of power other than G-d and is avoda zarah (assur).
  2. But if it's assumed to be natural, although perhaps the mechanism is not well understood, then it is no different than any other natural effect that has not yet been explained. Just because we don't know how it works doesn't mean that it is supernatural! (mutar)
  3. Alternatively, if perhaps it is known to not really work, but is done as a religious/societal ritual (or the like), then it would likely be assur as chukas hagoyim; doing actions that have no rationale other then to fit in with the other nations.

Of course, these 3 approaches miss one instance; if it actually works through supernatural means. Should it do that, then yeah; it's kishuf, but considering that kishuf is considered to be no longer in this world, that wouldn't seem like a possibility.

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  • Based on what I read, it's closer to being a problem of following omens. Which is assur as well and is called divination in English. Basically you throw some stick or stone on a matrix and it somehow leads you to read a passage that you then relate to your situation. Like a black cat walking in front if you or bread falling on the floor
    – Chatzkel
    Aug 4, 2021 at 4:07
  • @Chatzkel, yes, I'll add that in. It falls into the same parameters though
    – Rafael
    Aug 4, 2021 at 4:08
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    But we have cases where chochamim open a random passage in a chumash to discern the divine communique relevant to the person at that time. I would say that this is muttar not because it is related to Torah but that it's dependent on using chance to jog your unconscious. Aug 12, 2021 at 2:33
  • Part of the rationale for the I Ching is that there are archetypal patterns that reality is governed by. The sticks and stones are to indicate where you are in this primordial, self-repeating cycle. In some sense, it is locating where you are in the unfolding of creation. It's not so much telling the future as informing you of where you are and how to act based on the wisdom found therein. Aug 12, 2021 at 2:36
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As you've phrased the question namely that it involves an action of throwing sticks etc. it's divination.

However when studied and read as a study of dynamics and relations it's neutral. For example, Tai (泰 pervading peace), three broken lines above three solid lines, is an Earth trigram on top of the Heaven trigram (water), but the grams are read bottom up, so this is Heaven above Earth. Viewed another way, the water is settled, under earth, and there is peace. One may choose to study this hexagram or any of the 63 others without throwing sticks etc.

So it can be learned as a science, a way of observation, a way to peace, which is the essence of Dao, the Daoist way that the Yi Jing represents.

You may take somewhat of a parallel, l'havdil, with Kabbalah. Practical kabbalah (actions, prayers or meditations to specifically effect something forcefully) are frowned upon and viewed as close to magic (because they detract from the simplicity and essence of Emunah, faith and trust in Hashem), while theoretical kabbalah (learning, reading) and meditative kabbalah are good or at least more widely accepted.

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