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. True or false: In the Talmud, unusual events can be interpreted as either magic or miracle, depending on who is responsible for the event.
 True
 False

 

Question 2. True or false: Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, there exists a fragmentary text that is a collection of protective formulae for fending off demonic attack.
 True
 False

 

Question 3. Which of these is NOT a reason that a talmudic sage was granted special powers?
 He was the first person in synagogue every morning of his life
 He never walked four cubits without speaking words of Torah
 He never drank any liquid except water
 He never laid out a bed and slept for a regular period of time
 He never called anybody by a nickname

 

Question 4. Which of the following Jewish ritual objects did Christians (mistakenly) believe Jews used human blood to create?
 The etrog, at Sukkot
 The matzah, at Passover
 The bitter herb, at Passover
 The menorah, at Hanukkah
 The Torah

 

Question 5. 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 6. What are segullot?
 Animals said to have magic powers
 Evil spirits
 Good luck prayers
 Good luck charms

 

Question 7. What is divination?
 Gazing into the future using supernatural means
 Any act of creation, natural or supernatural
 Anointing oneself directly as a divinity (God)
 Making objects or people appear or disappear