The Torah says that we should not tolerate the presence of witches sorcerers or any people who seek out the future through forbidden means. Rather, "Tamim Tehiyeh" - You Should Be Perfectly Faithful To Hashem Your Gd (Devarim 18:13).

The Rashbam says that we should only search out the future from Hashem (for Kodesh causes and through the prophets or the Urim V'Tumim. See Rashi 18: 14) and not from the dead. Hashem gave power to the Ruach HaTumah to test us. These powers are tricks of the Yetzer Harah.

Why is this such a test? Why would people want to seek out the advice of witches?



The Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 62) discusses the Mitzvah of killing witches (Shmos 22:17). He says that all magical practices are forbidden because these practices try to upset the nature of the world as Hashem has created it. Hashem wants the world to be settled and to run according to His design and they are going against the will of Hashem. That is why we are commanded to remove all those who practice these magics from the world.

Hashem gave everything in the world a particular job to be carried out for the good of all man. And each creation has been given a spiritual power to empower it to do a job in the physical world. There is not a single blade of grass in the physical world below that does not have a Mazel in the world above telling it to grow (Beraishis Rabbah 10:6).

Besides their individual jobs, every creation can be mixed with other creations to do certain other jobs or produce new substances. But we are not allowed to do the mixing (shatnez). Just as we can mix two colors to get a third we can mix two substances together to make a third substance that is neither of the originals. Hashem knows that ultimately these mixtures are bad for mankind. The exception is when we mix medicines since they are mixed for the good of man and are not considered magic (Gemara Shabbos 67b).

So by practicing magic we are meddling with physical and spiritual forces. We are fiddling with nature and upsetting Hashem's template. The Sefer HaChinuch said that any good done by altering nature does more harm than good both to the world and to the people who wield these powers and in ways we can not fathom.

But why would people want to upset nature?

In very, very simple terms, people have a built in desire to be as close to Hashem and as much like Hashem as possible. This is because they have a Neshoma that is structured with qualities similar to Hashem – only to a lesser degree. And so people have a built in desire to know everything and control everything. Just as Hashem knows everything, the Neshoma that comes from Hashem desires to know everything. And just as Hashem controls everything, the Neshoma that comes from Hashem desires to control everything. While the Yetzer Hora will try to trick us into misusing these desires to do bad our job is to harness them in ways that will bring us closer to Hashem.

What should we do? We must grow up and realize that before we can be boss over nature we must first be boss of ourselves.

Why should we want to turn to magic and upset nature?

It is simple anxiety and a lack of Emunah. We're scared about what will happen tomorrow. And so we seek to know the future when instead we should have Emunah and Bitachon in Hashem that He is taking care of us.

What should we do?

The trick is to realize that the kosher way to manipulate the future is through Torah and Tefila and even then we have to be careful not to play with fire. No shortcuts.
Unfortunately, many people try to find "Kosher" shortcuts. They get involved with things they don't understand. They may not be magic but Segullos can still be harmful. Kaballah is not cool. It is dangerous. Secret codes and Gematria can add up to trouble. (Every Gematria can total something good or bad depending on how you do the math. For example, Shalom + Shalva = 707. Nachash (Snake) + Satan = 707.) One must be very careful who he talks to and who he trusts.

It would do us well to remember that the best Segulah is to keep the Mitzvos. And if we are careful we can find Segulos that come from authentic sources. Here is one. The Sha'arey Teshuva 66:13 in the Mishna Berura quotes the students of the AriZal that when saying the words Ozer Dalim/Who Helps the poor before Shemoneh Esreh each morning, you should "put in your heart" that you are also poor. Even if you are very wealthy, consider yourself poor in Torah and Mitzvos, which is the truest poverty. Also think of one's eventual poverty in the grave. By doing so, one's Tefilla will go up together with those of the poor.

Our lesson is to Trust in Hashem - Tamim Tehiyeh.

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