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. Why do the rabbis in the Talmud oppose magic?
 Because it is the way of the Amorites
 Because it is the way of the Romans
 Because it can lead to idolatry, adultery, or murder
 All of the above


Question 2. Which of these Jewish thinkers expressed the strongest anti-magic position?
 A.J. Heschel
 Joseph Karo


Question 3. What is Kabbalah Ma'asit?
 Another name for the Zohar
 Mystical literature that is more theoretical than practical
 Mystical literature that offers formulas for achieving closeness to God through meditation and name-recitation
 A book from the Jewish enlightenment that decries magical practices


Question 4. Which of the following special abilities does the Talmud ascribe to the sage Rav?
 The ability to curse others with sterility
 The ability to fly
 The ability to learn an entire tractate of Talmud each night
 The ability to raise the dead


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. 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 7. In Jewish thought, dreams are compared to
 Joyful song and dance