Magic & the Supernatural

lilith

Lilith, Lady Flying in Darkness

Lilith is the most notorious demon in Jewish tradition. In some sources, she is conceived of as the original woman, created even before Eve. Lilith's name means "the night," and she embodies the emotional and spiritual aspects of darkness: terror, sensuality, and unbridled freedom. More recently, she has come to represent feminist women who no longer want to be "good girls."

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Practices and Traditions

Astrology

Astrology

How Jews have felt about consulting the stars.

Healing

The Talmud suggests that whatever is effective as a remedy is not witchcraft.

Curses

In Jewish thought and texts, curses exemplify the belief that speech can have tremendous power.

Golems

Can imitating God extend to the creative realm?

Attitudes Towards Magic

Judaism has had a long and tenuous relationship with magical beliefs and practices.

Modern Insights

Popular Superstitions

Popular Superstitions

Pooh pooh pooh!

Hamsa

A Jewish and Israeli symbol that may have derived from pagan or Islamic culture.

Interpretations of the Golem

The most famous and enduring of all Jewish legends is that of the golem, the artificial man.

Medicine

Jewish physicians in the Middle Ages were also considered superior magicians.

Mysticism vs. Magic

How do we distinguish between these two?


Controversies

Demons

Demons

A prevalent, if problematic, belief among some Jews throughout history.

Witches

Witchcraft has been viewed as a vice that virtually every woman will indulge in.

Exorcism

Jews have developed complex plans for coaxing evil spirits out of those who are possessed.

Gematria

Assigning numerical values to letters yields infinite interpretations.

Evil Eye

There are a number of Jewish practices to ward off the harmful effects of the evil eye.

Books and People

Jewish Magic and Superstition

Jewish Magic and Superstition

By Joshua Trachtenberg

The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism

By Rabbi Geoffrey W. Dennis

Divination, Magic, and Healing: The Book of Jewish Folklore

By Ronald Isaacs

Rabbi Akiva’s Magic Show

Pick a destiny, any destiny.

Quiz Yourself

How well do you know Jewish magic, and the debates around it?

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