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What is the Jewish view on astrology, witchcraft, and occult practices?

by Rabbi Mendy Hecht

  

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A. The Torah1 outlaws peeking around the curtain concealing the future. Tarot cards, crystal balls, psychics, astrology, horoscopes, seances, and palm reading are therefore out. Necromancy or otherwise contacting the dead is considered a form of idol worship.

B. Contemporary culture shows an ongoing interest in the metaphysical: TV shows, movies, clubs, chat rooms, walk-in centers, stores, seminars, and when all else fails, comic books. The underlying questions are good, but the answers are not. Most of the stuff you’ll get in those venues is nonsense, although some of it is based on truth.

C. The point is, Judaism has been answering these questions for millenia, so before you get into New Age religion or studies of the supernatural, look to Judaism for your guide to life. It works.

Staying with the Light Side of The Force may seem less exotic—you won’t gain supernatural powers. You’ll just be a regular Joe...
Why is all that stuff prohibited by the Torah?

1. The Purpose of Good and Evil

G-d is The Force, and thus, there is a Dark Side, too. Spirituality can be accessed in two ways: through the Light Side, and through the Dark Side. The reason the Dark Side exists is so Man can have free choice and use his mind to choose good over evil. If only the Light Side existed, there would only be good, and Man would have no choice but to do good only—because that’s all there would be. So G-d created the Dark Side, and allowed Man to access spiritual power through it, just so Man could choose between the good and the bad, the right and the wrong.

2. Be a Real Hero

Staying with the Light Side of The Force may seem less exotic—you won’t gain supernatural powers or anything Star Wars-like. You’ll just be a regular Joe in that sense. In this world, G-d specifically made evil tantalizing—it takes a discerning mind to look past the magical allure of evil to see that G-d is behind it all, and to opt for the Light.

Footnotes

  • 1. Deuteronomy 18:10-13

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COMMENTS

dark lights / witchcraft

Posted by: Anonymous, York, PA on Oct 23, 2005

You stated there are those who are skilled in the laws of the dark side. How do someone go about fighting the effects of the works of those people in one's life?

Editor's Comment

Observing the commandments of the Torah is the ultimate defense. Light always trumps darkness.

What is the Jewish approach to astrology, witchcraft, and occult practices?

Posted by: Tim, South Coast Metro, California on Jan 07, 2006

The practice of 'witchcraft' predates Judaism by many millinia. Judaism is approximately a mere 6000 yrs old. 'Witchcraft' (actually dating farther back than) but is most recognized beginning with the Celts in Ireland and England. It, therefore, is not proper to simply dismiss something about which one knows nothing. Nor is proper to insinuate something is simply a passing fad.

Additionally, everyone (whether the realize it or not) talks to the deceased. Think about it. Something happens, without thinking 'Grandma you never told me about...' Like it or not, you just talked with the dead (assuming Grandma has passed on.) Each of us 'hears' voices from the other side. We've been trained to disregard them, because that's the way of western culture. It's also a control of organized religion. 'Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!' The man (or woman) pulling the levers.

There are energies and phenomena about which we know nothing. Playing the ostrich won't make it go away.

magic

Posted by: Jamie Gordon on Feb 11, 2006

ROFL!!!

I'm sorry but that cracks me up.

Magic not allowed in judaism. Lol

Ok what about the seer stones and urim and thummims used by prophets and high priests in the bible? Not to mention the "wizard's dual" between Moses and the Pharaoh.

Jae

Editor's Comment

That is exactly what the article points out: there are metaphysical powers on both sides - dark and light. So yes, there was a "dual", Moses represented the Light Side, and Pharaoh's wizards the forbidden Dark Side.

If God is the dark side of the force too then . . . .

Posted by: Isaiah Kronstad on Apr 06, 2006

If God is the dark side of the force, then you can have communion with G-d through darkness by accessing the dark side of G-d? Is that true?

Editor's Comment

G-s is the soul of everything -- yet He cannot be accessed through anything. You can't connect to G-d through eating pork -- although the swine is really only an extension of His Light. He alone chose the methods through which the human being can access Him -- the study of Torah and observance of mitzvot. For a deeper understanding of this concept, and why the Torah and mitzvot are the only vehicles which connect with G-d, it is imperative to take a course on the subject as it is expounded in the mystical books.

Witchcraft may be older, but it died out long ago

Posted by: Anonymous, MA on Mar 05, 2007

Idolotry, polytheism, and human sacrifice have definately predated Judaism. But that is the whole point of the code of ethics we call Torah; to separate Jews from polythiests.

As to the witchcraft mentioned by an earlier poster, today's neo-wiccans and Diana-worhippers bear little resemblance to the ancient religion. Just because Raymond Buckland claims that what he has reinvented is the same as what happened millenia ago doesn't make it so. Unlike Judaism, which has continued to practice in the same way, changing for the first time only in the 19th century(!) today's earth-based religons are a recent attempt to reclaim practices which have long since been extinct.

Herbology is all over the Talmud-- much of what today's witches use in circles is the very stuff that Mamonides suggested centuries ago. Why? Because most "wiccans" were actually born Jewish and searched for spirituality outside instead of within. Even Starhaw was born Jewish!!!!


G-d is Magic!

Posted by: Daniel K. Zur, Phoenix, AZ on Mar 06, 2007

One of the key reasons that Judaism outlaws magic, astrology, and similar forms of practice is that when you harness the powers of G-d, and access the Infinite Light, the Source, you are able to accomplish anything. You don't need an astrologer to say, "May will be lucky for you. Go out and meet someone." When you harness the powers of G-d (and these powers are so awesome and infinite that they defy logic to comprehend) you can summon all of the guidance you need to guide your life the godly way. Since G-d is all that exists, and everything in the infinite universes of creation are made from His essence, G-d is the ultimate authority on life. So the next time your grocery store horoscope says, "June will be a month of trials" listen to your heart, G-d wants every day to be productive, wants every day of your life to be healthy and happy. You don't need someone you pay $20 to tell you you'll be happy, trust in G-d, and you will be.

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G-d
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