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Are practices such as Wicca and Tarot kosher for a Jew?

Are practices such as Wicca and Tarot kosher for a Jew?

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Question:

Before I ask my question, I have to preface it with a little personal information about me so you have some context. One of the most important and most obvious aspects of my personality is an incredible thirst for knowledge and experience. I'm one of those annoying people that can't be beaten at trivial pursuit because I know enough about just about anything and everything to be dangerous and annoying. I also love experience and am one of those people that will try just about anything once (other than illegal things) just to understand and feel what it is. I am also a reform Jew.

Because of my thirst for knowledge, I have recently started reading books on Wicca and Witchcraft. I then started reading what is generally considered the foremost authority on magic for practicing magicians. This is not a book on black magic and actually is very serious about teaching people only to practice white magic. I figured I wanted to try it out to see if it works (and purely for that purpose only). I started reading and following the instructions which included buying a deck of tarot cards. As I began reading into the first lesson, it stated that I needed an altar. It was very clear that this was not to pray to some evil spirit or false gods or anything like that but given my Jewish faith that was the first thing that made me hesitate in going further. As I continued to read, it said that on the altar should be a few "tools" none of which is particularly important to my question. I felt some very serious conflict between my faith and wanting to understand this type of positive white magic and its potential uses or falsities. My question is what does the Jewish faith say, if anything, about practicing magic or engaging in this type of activity not as means of religion but for the sake of experience?

Answer:

Rabbi Chaim Vital asked his teacher, Rabbi Isaac Luria--the holy Ari, the greatest kabbalistic authority of the past millennium--about the use of "practical Kabbalah." This means the use of divine names of G‑d and of angels in various permutations in amulets and incantations to heal the sick and otherwise manipulate the natural world.

The Ari was strictly opposed to such practice. When Rabbi Chaim pointed out that great tzaddikim (holy individuals) were known to have used such methods, the Ari explained that these were people who were pure and holy and able to relate to the higher realms of purity and holiness. The rest of us, he explained, are in danger of connecting only to the lower realms which are a mixture of good and evil, thereby risking bringing impurity into ourselves, G‑d forbid.

This applies to the secrets of the Kabbalah, wisdom that was passed down by holy men and women who were only interested in good. When it comes to Tarot and Wicca, there is obviously a much greater danger, since many of the teachers were not at all pure and holy--and often on the contrary...

For a Jewish soul, the danger is much greater. A Jewish soul must nurture spiritual energy from a Jewish place. No substitutes will suffice in the long term--just as you cannot replace mother's milk with cow's milk, and all the more so with Coca Cola.

There are simple meditations for every Jew, beginner or advanced, and they are all in the siddur (prayer book). Meditating on the forms and sounds of the Hebrew letters is an ancient and highly recommended tradition. Saying the words of the Psalms or the daily prayers in a mindful state, with heart and soul, works wonders beyond what any magic can perform. Even more so when you put a few coins in a charity box before and afterwards.

As far as kinetic activities for these meditations, that is one of the reasons we have a tallit and tefillin; women light Shabbat candles, take challah and immerse in a mikvah at intervals--these are all meant to be mindful, meditative actions.

I know you write you are a Reform Jew. But we don't believe in labels. Jewish practice is for Jews, and that's the only type of Jew there is--a Jewish Jew.

Here, take a look at our Daily Life and Practice section. Start your spiritual journey with this primer.

You might also gain a lot from KabbalahOnLine.org, one of the best websites on authentic Kabbalah.

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman for Chabad.org

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Mark Toronto March 29, 2017

Natural Magic After reading this, there is a very clear divide between those who consider themselves to be strict in their religious beliefs and practices and those who are not.

My thought after reading this is (and perhaps this shys away from the true essence of Wicca or the use of magic) however, if we are to accept that G-d created us, the world around us, the trees, sunlight, the ground beneath our feet, water and the air we breathe, that we are all energy- providing we are meditating and simply taking in our surroundings feeling the energy of the life around us and taking it in, and focusing our thoughts on something positive like the thought of soothing someone's illness our our own (please note - no worshipping false deities etc or asking for help from any religious artifact) I find it hard to believe that would be wrong. Is this too considered "witchcraft". I also think people yelling out Wicca is "Satanic" - is a touch overboard myself... I would fear such comments lead to hate. Reply

asher brooklyn September 9, 2016

Ha, I like this girl. I started on the same path got introduced to wicca and other stuff, in the end I was lucky and God brought me to the ultimate power which is Judaism. All the stuff you will learn will be time wasted as it's just watered down jewish mysticism. A man came to me and said why do you waste time with nickels and dimes when you can mess with the big stuff I asked what do you mean? He showed me a ritual that bugged me out it took almost no prep work (as so much things do in wicca) I decided that I'm feeling this much deeper and was able to see that even the stuff people called white magic was very dark and I was to a level addicted to it, the impurity was calling me. I got rid of all my old wicca books, and started to learn kabbalah with a good mentor I decided that I'm missing out on so much so i asked him to stop teaching me and teach me to learn the abc so I can learn freely my self. 10 years have passed since then i regret my sin of whitchcraft Reply

Anonymous December 19, 2013

Ex Witch It doesn't matter if it's black or white, G_d does not approve. When people would ask me what the difference was between using magic and praying to G_d. I say,"When you use the craft who is in charge?" My other question would be,"When you pray to G_d who is in charge?" I would get varying answers, some who had insight would get it correct. When using the craft, you are in charge and when praying to G_d, HE is in charge. HE may not give you what you want, but you will always have what you need. Using any kind of craft is Satanic to say the least. We are not to have any idol worship what so ever. I used the craft for a few years my self. It is not an experience that I brag about, but use to bring people back to G_d! Worship HIM and only HIM, depend on HIM for all your needs. HE will bring you true happiness! It took me a long time to get away from it. I finally did and will never go back. I seen things that would make your hair curl; such as gray spirits coming up out of the ground. Reply

Anonymous January 26, 2013

Meditating with tarot Is it kosher ro use the tarot for meditations and insight? Reply

Anonymous caesarea, Israel May 10, 2010

What Do I Do? I started practicing white magic but not that much, and i want to know how i can get forgiveness or if i need forgiveness. help please! Reply

Gershon Helsinki, Finland July 13, 2009

White Magic and Occult Knowledge Let me tell you a short and true story of what happened to me when I got angry at my local synagogue and decided to study wisdom through an occult knowledge group which in general had a rather good reputation.

I became a good student and immersed myself in the various wisdom and techniques of the movement and its levels and courses. I was in very good health and very happy. One night while doing a meditation exercise involving knowledge about the autonomic nervous system, my body started shaking and my heart rate went up to 200 for no reason. I ended up in the hospital and for days was in and out of a very frightening altered state of consciousness which felt like I could "leave my body" at any moment if not careful. I am very level-headed and skeptical about many things, but I will tell you this was a frightening and real experience.

Lesson: A Jewish soul is a potent receptor. Don't use it to play with uncharted and unknown things! Reply

Anonymous October 5, 2008

Satan himself is known as the father of lies. Remember how Eve got persuaded .... with a very suble lie.

White magic is really of the same origin as black. They are both collaborations with the evil/demonic in exchange for the welfare of your soul most likely, and at times that of someone else.

It is strongly cautioned to stay away from such things, as persons involved in these things could end up demonized (with symptoms such as no longer being able to control thoughs coming into your own mind) -- no kidding. Reply

Y.N. January 22, 2008

Practical Kabbalah Yes... In between taking care of my home, children, grandchild, and working p/t outside my home to help my husband with some extra income, I do, thank G-d, manage to pray @ least 2x a day and say Psalms for everyone and learn some daily study material and wow! I bake my own Challah....: )
(without arrogance...just trying to give u a sense of where I am coming from with as little words & time available : )
Okay...so what I am trying to understand..
if magic was available at one time, is it no longer available now? for anyone?
and if so, where did it go? and if others are accessing magic and (if we as Jews are considered not Holy enough) they are impure but are putting this out there anyway won't it affect us/the world in general? and yes I understand that everything comes from G-d, but from where do we know that one cannot access G-dly 'magic" within nature?
isn't that what we r doing in essence? or trying to do? reveal G-dliness? reveal the "magic" of G-d? Reply

Tzvi Freeman (author) January 22, 2008

Re: Practical Kabbalah The truth is that the Baal Shem Tov did make amulets and other forms of Practical Kabbalah. However, for others whose souls and bodies are not as pure, it is dangerous and may be counter-productive.

Of course meditation and prayer to the One G_d is kosher. In fact, it's a mitzvah and we do it three times a day! Reply

YNusbaum brooklyn, ny January 21, 2008

the Holiness of "pratical Kabbalah" when u say pratical Kabbala, this is
a more Jewish way of saying white magic ?
If we meditate to the One & Only Hashem
to bend nature to heal a sick body or Neshama wouldn't this be Kosher ? Reply

Angela Colo Spgs, CP August 24, 2007

Idols I know from experience that Wicca involves the practice of worshoping Idols and mutiple G-d's: a God and a Goddess. It is clearly stated that we are not to worship Idols or practice pagen beliefs in more than one diety. Reply

Aaron Miami, Florida August 6, 2007

I believe that because G-d told us to build altars for him. Then it obviously represents a significance that is meant only for G-d. Reply

SDusanna July 25, 2007

Are practises such as wicca and tarot kosher Indeed with such personalities in the world that thirst for supernatural activity it's no surprise that The Lord laid down very strict laws for those who indulge in sorcery.
How many times was it asked why consult the dead on behalf of the living? Anyone who claims to thirst for knowledge would do well in the ways of God to remember these laws should one regard these things as wisdom. Reply

Luke Lim Singapore July 18, 2007

Hmm, in that case, can we say that the prohibition against magic is more due to the danger of contamination/corruption, rather than the reason that what we need, we ask from HaShem, and there's not need to resort to other supernatural alternatives? Reply

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