Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Limitations of Black Magic

By: Rabbi Eliyahu Haim Aboud

Probably the greatest sorcerer of all time was the evil prophet Bilaam, who, as the Torah relates, attempted to place a curse on the Jewish people and have them annihilated. The commentaries explain [Ramban in Parashat Balak chapter 22:31] that Bilaam’s extraordinary powers stemmed from his mastery of sorcery and black magic, and not from his abilities as a prophet. In fact, he was not worthy of prophecy at all, and was given prophetic capabilities only for a very brief period. This is why in the Prophets he is referred to as “Bilaam Hakosem–Bilaam the Sorcerer,” with no mention of his prophetic status. According to the Midrash  Bilaam and his two sons were originally the most prestigious advisors and sorcerers of Pharaoh during the period of Bene Yisrael’s enslavement. And many other stories abound of ancient nations who enlisted Bilaam to reveal to them the outcome of their battles and to help them win through his extraordinary mystical powers.

Bilaam acquired his great powers of sorcery directly from the evil angels Aza and Azael. Bilaam visited these two angels every day until he learned all the mystical secrets they knew.

Some sources identify Bilaam with Lavan, Yaakov’s crooked father-in-law, who sought to destroy Yaakov and prevent the emergence of the Jewish people. According to this tradition, Bilaam lived well over 300 years.

Bilaam was killed by Bene Yisrael during the battle of Midyan prior to their entering the land of Israel. The Midrash relates that when the Jews captured Bilaam, he used sorcery to raise himself and the five kings of Midyan high in the air and disappear from sight. (Though the powers of impurity can only be summoned while standing on the ground, once the sorcery is initiated, the subject could use the powers to levitate off the ground for a period of time.) Pinhas, the grandson of Aharon, flew after him by uttering the divine name or, according to others, by directing the name of Hashem written on the tzitz (frontlet) of the kohen gadol towards the airborne Midyanites counteracting Bilaam’s powers of magic. Bilaam and the kings immediately fell to the ground and were then easily killed by Bene Yisrael. Bilaam’s decaying body and tarnished soul transformed into evil spirits, snakes and scorpions, the result of the impurity with which they had been saturated during his lifetime.

Limited Time Span
The commentaries add that objects created by the powers of sorcery cannot remain in existence permanently. These creations can exist for only limited periods of time, after which the laws of nature take hold and return them to their original state. This is why the frogs that descended upon Egypt during the second plague remained in the Nile River after the plague, and did not just disappear. Gd demonstrated to Pharaoh and the Egyptians that His creations can exist indefinitely, as opposed to the creations of magic, which are only temporary.

Sorcery is also subject to limited accessibility. The Zohar writes that the forces of impurity are unable to perform magic from hassot (midnight) at night until midday, whereas Hashem, of course, can overturn the natural order he created anytime He wishes.

Additionally, someone born during the month of Adar II, on a leap year, cannot be affected by magic. This is because he is born in a month which doesn’t have a specific mazal and “doesn’t really exist”. Therefore the magicians have no way of dealing with him. In this vein, when Yehoshua gathered an army to fight Amalek, who came to fight Beneh Yisrael using witchcraft, he purposely chose people who were born in Adar II, to whom these forces take no affect.

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Anonymous said...

wow, very nice article, thank you

Anonymous said...

Is black magic voodoo ?
What about white magic ?
Was Bilaam black ?

Anonymous said...

"Harry Potter Judaism"

This kind of theology was unknown to the great carries of our tradition in middle east, northern africa and southern spain after the completin of the talmud. The great gaonim, rishonim, like the Rif, Rambam, Ibn Ezra, Shmual hanaggid, ibn Daud, Ibn Migas completely rejected black magic and and any power other than Hashem that "runs wildly in the universe" Its a ashame atleast the other side is not giving on this site. The Maimonidean Controversy continues.

Devorah said...

To Jenifa: I'm sorry but your comment was accidentally deleted, you can post it again if you want to. Not sure why, but it went into spam and I deleted it before I read it properly.

Moshe said...


Balak Ben Tsipor was regular guy before he became the king of Moav with big mouth, very dangerous tongue. Rav Haim Soloveichik said from Gemara Gitin:”Anybody who against Jewish people eventually will rise prominents ...”. Balak had power of speech and he had negative speech about Jews. He said look what they did to emory, look what they did to egyptians, and he paints very very negative picture. People started to hate Jews and they say Balak you will lead us. We need you to lead to fight this war. After this propaganda he became the king of Moav.
Same with Hitler Imah Shemo Vezehro, he was not even of German decent, he was from Austria. He said to rasha Gebels bad things about us. And the Gebels job was to destroy Jews and in one night it was destroyed 1000 sinagougs and as a result Hitler rosed the power.
When we read this parsha we see exactly of that mechanism how anticemetism works.
Balak goes to Bilam to ask for help. And derash from Gemara, if you know how Bilam hates us, just from his blessing. From the blessing you can see what it comes from heart, because his intensions was to curse us. So every curse came out from his mouth turn on to blessing. So you know how he hates us, just take his blessings and flip it. If he says look how many Jews there that means I want to kill them all. Bilam was anti semite like Balak but he has different method. Balak is the old school, old fashioned anti semite, Bilam in his speech he praised us, how rich we are, how successful we are, and talks about our achievements and his intent for those who listening in order to aggravating them, in order to invoke even greater hate against us and that is what Gemara means from his blessing we know what he had in heart. Our rabbai tells us, in the begining Bilam was one of the advisers of Par’o. The other two were Yov and Itro. Par’o wanted destroy Jews and he asked for advise. Itro said:”Bad idea, you will lose it”, “Yov was quiet , did not say a word” and Bilam said:”Good idea, you should have my blessing to destroy them all”. So, Itro run to Midian because Par’o wanted kill him then Itro became great rabbai and his dauther married Moshe Rabbeinu.
Yov, we know how he suffered from pain, becasue he was quiet. And Bilam we see he started to hate us back to Par’o time and he saw all miracles that Hashem made for us and here again he went against us. It says in Gemara that when we left Egypt, Jewish people were on fire, nobody would even think to attack the Jewish people. And we say every day:”Nations heard and they were trembled, ...”... and further pasuk writes then Amalek came. So the Gemara says:”Where he did come from?”the Midrash says he came from the castle of Bilam. Every body hates Jews but Amalek is the king, the natzi came from Amalek. Amalek knew the power of Jews and they willing to burn themselves in order to weakened us to the next generations and make it easy to attack us and that was the Bilam advise. Bilam died,

Moshe said...

and Gemara says that the roman prince Unkelus, who decided to convert to judaism. He knew black magic, and he wanted to bring down the celebraty from whatever place it is, and it was Bilam that he brought. And Bilam asked Unkelus bar Klunekus what is your question? I want to convert to judaism, what do you think? And Bilam said what can I say, I am the true World and I was wrong all the time and in the Shammaim I see that Jewish people is the chosen nation. It is teh right think to convert. You know what he meant at that time? When you have a chance curse them and destroy them. Unbelevable, he was cursing us from Gehinom.
Zohar says Our worse nation is Amalek. Amalek represents the power of evil in the world. The power of destructive forces, negativity, all the negative energy and the forces of tumah are in Amalek. There were two people who is the source of Amalek and Zohar continues, Balak and Bilam. Last to leters of Bilam is Ayin, Mem and Balak is Lamed, Kov which is Amalek. So, when this 4 letters together it very toxic and dangerous situation. When Yehoshua fight the war against Amalek he weakened Ayin Mem from Bilams’ name, and that why amaleketi chose Balak as a king. So Balak said, listen, you will be under me, they did not kill you only weakend you, so I’ll be the head and you will be with me.
Rambam writes when Mashiah comes there is three orders.
1.. We are going to appoint the Jewish King. The Jewish king will be Moshe Rabeinu.
2.. We will build 3rd Beith Hamikdash.
3. We are going to destroy Amalek.
That means we still have those two letters of Amalek that still causes our trouble, but when Mashiah comes those two letters will be eradicated. Ein Gaalti Ethem, Aharit Kereshit. Gd say when I redeem you the final redemption is going to be like the first redemption. Aharit Kereshit is like Moshe Rabeinu redeemed us from Egypt, he will redeem us at the end.
When I redeem you it is going to be the last letter of Amalek like the first one. It is like Yehoshua weakened first two letters, I am going to weak and destroy the last two letters and eradicated as well. And all our enemies will be destroyed and Hashem will reign forever and ever. Adon-ay will be the King over the entire world; on that day Adon-ay will be One and His Name will be One.
(source Rabbi Eli Mansour)