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Witchcraft & Magic

What does Judaism say about the existence of black magic? Is this a real power or just an illusion?

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

The Torah accepts that magic and sorcery do exist. Along with nature's normal way of functioning, God also created a way for humans to manipulate it - by the means of magic. Although God does not permit mankind to use sorcery, He had to allow this deviant path to exist in order to give mankind an element of choice. Otherwise we would lack the unique spiritual trait of free will.

However, the Torah prohibits the practice of sorcery, fortune-telling, and divination -- via chance, necromancy, cards, or other fortune-telling paraphernalia. (Exodus 22:17; Leviticus 19:26,31; Deuteronomy 18:10-11)

Maimonides writes that it is forbidden to perform acts and claim that they are done through supernatural forces, because this is what the idol-worshippers used to do -- to bring "compelling proof" for their idol worship, via magic and fortune-telling. (Laws of Idolatry 11:16)

According to Rabbi A.Y. Kook ("Da'at Kohen" 69), it is forbidden to perform magic or fortune-telling. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein also discouraged doing magic tricks, but wrote that it would be permitted if the magician informed people of how the trick was performed beforehand.

To learn more, read "Faith and Folly" by Rabbi Yaakov Hillel (

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