My Jewish Learning

Magic & the Supernatural Quiz

Judaism has many folk customs with magical undertones. But these are not without controversy. How well do you know Jewish magic, and the debates around it?

Question 1. Which two medieval Jewish thinkers address the theological legitimacy of astrology?
 Rav & Shmuel
 Ibn Ezra & Maimonides
 Rashi & Rabbenu Tam
 Sforno & Sahl ben Bishr al-Israeli


Question 2. Why were Jews thought of as excellent magicians in the Middle Ages?
 Many were moneylenders, and had an affinity for silver
 They prayed at night
 Jewish congregations held a service each month publicly blessing the moon
 Many Jews had scientific or medical training


Question 3. Which is NOT used to ward off the Ayin Hara (evil eye)?
 A hamsa, or a divine hand
 A red string tied around the wrist
 A Magen David, or six-pointed star
 An incantation stating that one is "of the seed of Joseph"


Question 4. In the Middle Ages, which of these Jewish customs lapsed because of Christian suspicions of black magic?
 Certain mourning practices
 The search for leaven
 Certain Shabbat practices
 Some of these
 All of thee


Question 5. True or false: in the Talmudic period, bowls etched with magic formulas were used by Christians, Mazdeans, Mandeans, but never Jews.


Question 6. Which biblical character is said to be a witch?
 King Manasseh
 Queen Esther
 Queen Jezebel


Question 7. What is a golem?
 A dead human that takes possession of the body of a living human
 A demon that takes possession of the body of an animal
 A giant creature made of clay which is brought to life by magical means
 A carnivorous blood-sucking creature living in the forests of Eastern Europe