Jewish Magic

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“Angels & Demons, Jewish Magic Through The Ages” – new exibition in  Bible Lands Museum and… iPhone app.

Magic permeates daily Jewish lives to such a degree that life without magic is close to impossible.

An interesting fact is that most individuals are unaware that many items in their daily life and many daily actions and beliefs are magical in nature. Examples of this are endless: knocking on wood, tfu tfu tfu, Evil Eye (בלי עין הרע), not naming a child before birth, the amuletic power of the mezuzah, red ribbon bracelet, khamsas, jinxes…

These and many more practices have ancient sources. Some have lost their meaning even though they are still used, for example, the magical formula ABRACADABRA, has its roots in the 3rd century CE, and is continuously used even today.

Belief that the world was filled with supernatural beings and forces such as angels, demons, spirits and the evil eye was common in the ancient world and, indeed, many people today hold to that conviction. These forces were attributed with many powers and were thought to be responsible for many of the good, but especially the bad things occurring to people on a daily basis. It was generally believed that such forces can be coerced into acting on behalf of the applicant. Depending on whether the goal of this coercion was for evil or good, we can distinguish between witchcraft (black magic) and magic (protective magic, or white magic).

Biblical laws strictly forbid the Jewish people from having anything to do with witchcraft (black magic): “You shall not allow a sorceress to live” (Exodus 22:17); “There must not be found among you anyone that… uses divination, a soothsayer, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer” (Deuteronomy 18:10-11).

However, (white) magic i.e. defense against the dark arts, the forces of evil and the damage they cause was not forbidden in Judaism. This is clear both from biblical and rabbinical writings and from many of the preserved amulets, covering various functions, some of which were written by rabbis. The exhibition is designed to show this separation.

Jewish Magic app it’s an interactive exhibition guide combines archaeology, folklore and superstition in an all encompassing display of amulets, khamsas, jewelry, manuscripts, books of spells and other mystifying objects.

Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad

Category: Education
Released: April 29, 2010
PublisherQbiki Networks © Bible Lands Museum Jerusalem
Price: Free (get app)

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