Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Communicating with the Dead

Hello Rabbi Maroof,

Please tell me if it is a wrong thing to be a medium; if I can form a link with a soul from the next world and relay information to the sitter, is that wrong?
Thank you,


Dear David,

In the Book of Deuteronomy, we are told:

There shall not be found among you one who passes his son through the fire; a diviner, an astrologer, one who reads omens or a sorcerer. One who charms animals, one who inquires of Ov or Yideoni, or one who consults the dead. For anyone who does these is an abomination of Hashem; and, because of these abominations, Hashem, your God, banishes the nations from before you.

The Torah clearly prohibits any attempt to communicate with the dead. Maimonides explains the reason for this law:

All of these things are matters of falsehood and lies, and they are the very means through which the idol worshipers fooled the nations of the world into following them. And it is not proper for the Jewish people, who are exceptionally wise, to follow after these vanities, nor to entertain the possibility that they have any benefit...Anyone who believes in these things and things like them, and thinks in his heart that they are true and wise but that the Torah has prohibited them; he is one of the fools and those lacking knowledge... But those who possess wisdom and sound mind know by clear demonstration that all of these things that the Torah prohibits are not things of wisdom; rather, they are emptiness and vanity that fools stray after, and all of the paths of truth have been corrupted because of them. Because of this the Torah states, when it warns us about these vanities, "Perfect shall you be with Hashem, your God."

In other words, we reject these practices because they encourage magical and mystical ways of thinking that contradict the wise paths of our holy Torah. There is no rational basis for them whatsoever.

Those who seek mediums are usually emotionally troubled individuals who have unresolved issues with loved ones who are deceased. Instead of attempting to gain insight into their internal conflicts and resolve them, these people turn to charlatans who offer to help them "reconnect" with their dead relatives - for a price, of course.

The best thing you can do is suggest that these unfortunate human beings seek professional help to deal with their emotional difficulties. This is the healthy, reasonable approach that is advocated by our Torah. Perhaps then they will no longer feel a need to chase after fantasy and will begin to appreciate the value of wisdom.

Best Regards,

Rabbi Maroof


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your answer.
My question was not in regards to another person but rather in regards to myself, as I help people link to the next world; I personally know that this is not through trickery or charlatan practise.
I think it ill-informed for one to say that it is fantasy [; that is not to say that every medium out there is bona fida...].
My main query was, is it included in the verse you mentioned, as the word 'doresh' is used, which perhaps suggests looking towards the 'maitim' for advice and direction, for which I can well understand the prohibition.
We also know that not everbody agreed with the Rambam in his saying that it is all falsehood and vanities.
I must add though, that when I do connect with the 'link' with the person 'on the other side' I am necessarily not concentrating on the Creator: I must let myself be a recepticle for that soul and his message: if we are adjured to always cleave to G-d, in light of the above, I can understand the prohibition. It is though a 'yetser harah' for me as I feel satisfaction that I can connect and provide some sort of message for the sitter. This was the reason for my question.

topshadchan said...

two words
Seek Help

Anonymous said...

I recently read an article that included the following quote:

In the first Order of the Talmud (Moed - Festival seasons), in the first Tractate (B'rachot - Blessings) on the reverse side of the 59th page, we find the following three remarkable statements concerning the casting of horoscopes: B. Zufra ben Tuviah said in Rab's name:

"... He who is able to calculate the cycles and the Planetary Courses but does not, one may hold no conversation wfth him!" Rabbi Shimon ben Pazzi said: "He who knows how to calculate the Cycles and the Planetary courses but does not, of him the Scripture saith: '... but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither have they considered the operation of His Hands!' (Isaiah 5:12)" Rabbi Samuel ben Nachmani said: "How do we know it is one's Duty to calculate the cycles and the Planetary Courses? Because it is written: 'for this is your wisdom and understanding in the sight of the peoples... '(Deuteronomy 4:6). What wisdom and understanding is '...in the sight of the peoples...?' It is the science of the Cycles and the Planets!"

Rabbi Joshua Maroof said...


These Talmudic statements are referring to astronomy, the scientific study of the heavens, not astrology, which has no scientific basis and we are prohibited to follow.

Tuviah said...

Being able to make contact with the other side is a blessing from Hashem that is no less important than the gift of prophesy. Why would this gift in any way degrade Hashem? There are stories of the ancients communicating with the dead throughout the vast volumes of Torah and Jewish literature. This is not idol worship or fantasy. It's a gift from heaven.

T said...

Dear David
I lost my son about 2 months back I am a Christian and I would give anything to just hear from him, but I do know it is not right, there are many scriptures advising us not to, boy at times I understand why Saul sort a meduim, this is how I landed up on this site asking yet knowing it is not God's will.

Anonymous said...


Why should we rely blindly on the talmud which was written only 1,800 years ago by men. Why should we take their word for it?

Are you saying that all clairvoyants or phychics are charlatans? Then why should we believe in prophets? how do we know if a prophet is charlatan or not?
If G-d has given this amazing gift of intuition and clairvoyance to people born with it, then why did he give them this ability in the first place, if it is bad to use?
There are amazing people out there who indeed have psychic abilities, and you can deny it all you want, but in the end of the day your are contradictory. What is the difference between a prophet who knows the future and a person born with clairvoyant gifts?

Rabbi Joshua Maroof said...

What does this have to do with reliance on the Talmud? The Talmud is a combination of two things: the received tradition of interpretation of Torah law that the rabbis possessed and their own logical analysis, application, debate and discussion of the complexities of that tradition. It is clear, rational and compelling in its own right, can be understood and grasped by anyone and bears no resemblance to the supernatural "knowledge" that is claimed as an exclusive "gift" by clairvoyants and psychics.

Yes, I am saying that they are all charlatans. If you do some honest research you will see that their claims have been scientifically discredited and debunked countless times. They use a whole set of strategies that make them appear convincing, but these are tricks, pure and simple.

According to your logic, why shouldn't belief in prophets mean belief in Jesus, Mohammed or David Koresh? Belief in one authentic source of supernatural insight doesn't necessitate belief in all alleged sources of such insight.

Jewish law provides clear criteria for authenticating a prophet's claim to have received messages from God. When a person claiming to be a prophet satisfies these criteria, we accept him; otherwise, we don't.

The clairvoyants and psychics you speak of wouldn't even come close to passing the test of authenticity to which our prophets were subjected.

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