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.


Question 2. 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 3. What are segullot?
 Animals said to have magic powers
 Evil spirits
 Good luck prayers
 Good luck charms


Question 4. 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 5. What is blood libel?
 The use of blood for healing purposes
 The accusation of ritual child murder
 A theory pertaining to Jewish genetics
 The practice of storing blood in customary vases


Question 6. What was the cause of the violent mob assault against Jews in England, which started at the coronation of Richard I in 1189?
 A Jewish delegation bearing gifts was accused of coming to cast their spells over Richard I
 A Jewish citizen with a speech impediment was accused of being possessed by Satan
 Richard I declared a city-wide ban of Jews in his coronation speech
 The rabbi scheduled to bless Richard I did not show up


Question 7. True or false: Judaism ascribes some supernatural powers to the zodiac.