Parshas Shoftim.


The laws of the prohibition against practicing witchcraft and sorcery.


1. There are many different types of occult arts and superstitions that the Torah forbids us. These prohibitions are usually mentioned side by side with the prohibitions against idolatry and indeed throughout history many trusting people would worship the idols as a pure superstition. In our day there also exist many people who claim to be “fortune tellers”, “sorcerers”, “oracles”, “mediums” and “diviners”. Some of them are open liars who use the information they were able to secretly get, making it look like it came “from Above”. For example, such a “sorcerer” can send a delivery man to his client so he can find out what the insides of his house look like. Later, during the session, he will amaze the client by telling him what is in his home. There are also some people who do possess a certain talent as we described in the previous chapter with regards to false prophets. However, their possible access to knowledge that is hidden from most people still does not give us permission to ask them for advice. Rather in cases of doubt we consult knowledgeable and righteous Rabbis.


2. The Torah forbids us to follow the superstitions of non-Jews. We should not choose auspicious times – today I won’t go outside because the mazal is bad, but tomorrow I will, etc. Still in some cases when there is a Jewish source for certain behavior (usually based on the teachings of Kabbalah), we are permitted to follow it. For this reason, many people have a custom to organize weddings in the first half of lunar month (some organize the weddings until the last week of the lunar month) – the Jewish nation is compared to the moon and we want the covenant of marriage to happen when its visible lit part is increasing. There is also a custom to start new endeavors on Rosh Chodesh – the new moon.


3. Even tricks with hands, like the ones done by the conjurers are forbidden for a Jew.


4. It is forbidden to use the words of Torah for treatment, except when there is danger for life. For this reason, one should not choose out the verses from psalms according to the letters of the name of the sick. One should only say full psalms as prayers.