People have always been fascinated by a good magical trick even though they may realize that it’s nothing more than the clever art of deception. While some believe that true black magic existed in ancient times, others such as the Rambam claim that no one can defy the laws of nature and all of magic is based on the art of deception. Egypt was the magical capital of the world in ancient times and even the little kids learned how to change sticks into snakes or water into blood. Today’s great magicians such as David Copperfield and others can perform much greater feats. They can make large elephants appear or disappear at will and cut people up into pieces and then bring them back to life again.
The best way to convince people into believing in false gods is through the use of magic. Learning mind reading tricks or how to supposedly talk to the dead can easily get someone a large following and from there it’s quite easy to claim that one has godly visions and powers. In ancient times, there were thousands of false prophets who were all master charlatans, and who were very good at convincing people that certain stars or gods spoke to them and revealed great secrets. They used this deception in order to sell the multitudes their false gods. People easily bought this nonsense as they do even today. People were so confused that they were unable to determine who was the true prophet and who was the charlatan. Eliyahu Ha’novi had to bring down a fire from Heaven to prove he was authentic and the others were false.
Nowadays, people are also fooled by mezuzah readers or kesubah readers that supposedly use kabballah and claim they can read a person’s past and future. They are easily taken by people practicing facilitation or other hocus pocus. Palm readers and fortune tellers make lots of money suckering the naïve and the gullible public who easily fall into their clever traps.
According to the Rambam, the Torah prohibited the use of any type of magic because of the terrible damage it can cause. Since early times, priests, imams, and evangelists, have taken billions of people for a ride with their supposed miracles and have used their clever tricks to get them to believe in gods that can’t talk, see, hear, or move. Just look at the billions of people around the world that have been taken in by these scam artists.
The Torah also warns us not to believe in superstitions or astrology since they too are based on nonsensical gibberish and can cause great physical, financial and spiritual harm. I’ve seen many advertisements of people making claims that their hands possess special powers with which they are able to cure the sick. One such practitioner even claims to have the personal endorsement of the famed Rabbi Yaakov Hillel but a check with him will reveal that this too is an outright fabrication. For some of the many ramifications of these issues one is advised to study the sefer “Faith and Folly” – the occult in Torah perspective – by Rabbi Yaakov Hillel. ( Feldheim publication )