The Torah She'bicsav and Torah She'ba'al Peh discuss sorcery/necromancy/witchcraft. Assuming that those activities were actually harnessing some sort of supernatural power in order to perform supernatural activities, do such things exist today?

I am mainly interested in explicit sources discussing this topic or sources that implicitly imply that such powers still exist (and are accessed) in the past thousand years or so.


Rabbi Yaakov Hillel, who is considered the expert on the subject in the Jewish world. He even wrote a book against such things called "Faith and Folly". Nevertheless, even he concedes that such things do exist even today. Here is an excerpt of his words from an audio lecture which he gave on the topic: (at 46:01) "sometimes some of these people seem to have some sort of power of intuition. they can be quite prophetic. impressively. they can know hidden things. sometimes I've checked it out and I found out they have well organized system of obtaining information (i.e. they are charlatans) ... but others really have this type of power... (skipping to 51:18) we should not be impressed when we see someone who knows hidden things...there are these types of things. It exists. but that's not what impresses us."

from: http://dafyomireview.com/chovos/jewish_views_on_evolution.htm

would just like to add that I have witnessed real examples of this stuff personally.

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    @ray Your quotation needs a source. Removing the source is not a good solution. – Double AA Sep 3 '14 at 17:59
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    @Sklivvz what's wrong with anti-scientific? this is a jewish Q&A site, and jewish views are necessarily going to conflict with science which has an atheistic basis. – ray Sep 3 '14 at 18:34
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    There nothing wrong with different opinions, but, no matter the site, demonstrably wrong information is not making the internet better... especially if it's totally unrelated to the answer. – Sklivvz Sep 3 '14 at 19:06
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    @Sklivvz oh really. please demonstrate then. we can take it in chat if you wish. and BTW, that just happened to be where the quote was. would it have been better if i left out the source? – ray Sep 3 '14 at 20:09
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    it's a very good source. Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb and other very good rabbis. just skip the stuff i wrote if for whatever reason u prefer – ray Sep 4 '14 at 18:00

The most famous first stop on this discussion the gloss of the Vilna Goan on the Shulchan Orach Yoreh Deah siman 179 note 13. He claims that everyone since the Rambam disagreed with the Rambam's position that there is no such thing as magic.

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    How does this answer the question? The Gra writes that the Rambam was wrong about there being no magic in the times of the Gemara! – Double AA Sep 3 '14 at 4:15
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    Thats a very modern way of trying to adress the issue, but I would disagree wholeheartedly. The Machlokes was a fundamental one about the possibility of magic existing at all or not. The Rambam said only fools believe in it and went so far as to say all the magic in Mitzrayim was only slight of hand. The Gra brings proof to the reality of magic by citing many stories in the gemara... – user6591 Sep 3 '14 at 11:47
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    @user6591 The Gra would have a proof of there was a declining progression of abilities. And is it true that the Rambam dismissed biblical magic based on his own observations in his time? – Gavriel Sep 3 '14 at 14:27
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    @user6591 I agree with you that the Rambam would say it never existed and still doesn't. The question is: according to those opinions that thought it existed back then, does it exist now? You haven't addressed that at all in this answer! – Double AA Sep 3 '14 at 18:05
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    @user6591 The Gra doesn't claim (there at least) that it was active in his time. You have only brough evidence that it was active back in the days of the Gemara, and we know many many many instances where Metziut nowdays differs from what is described then. – Double AA Sep 3 '14 at 20:32

there have been cases of dibuks (spirits of the dead "stuck" in this world) from reliable sources. The book Reb Elchonon (Artscroll) talks about how he (Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman) was involved in exorcising one. He would relate the story every purim.

So it looks like the occult is still around us.

  • I always wondered about the dibbuk stories... do you know of anyone who explains what that's all about? – Gavriel Sep 7 '14 at 17:32
  • @Gavriel no. but from what i reckon it's something about lost souls who cannot get into gehinom or something like that – albert Sep 8 '14 at 7:56
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    @Gavriel In Reb Yaakov Kaminetsky's pirush on maseches Avos he says in the name of Reb Elchonon who was told by the Chafetz Chayim that the aforementioned dibuk would be the last one. The power of tumaah is only as great as its parallel to the power of tahara and due to yeridas hadoros, the world is not worthy any longer. – user6591 Sep 15 '14 at 14:01
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    See sefer minchat yehuda where he discusses at great length how he treated people who were suffering from dibbukim. Also see the dates of the different stories. For those who don't know the author of the above mentioned sefer is R' Yehuda Faataia who was known as one of the leading kabbalists of his times. (1859-1942) – Ibber Chochem Feb 17 '18 at 21:26

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