Between Magic and Practical Kabbalah: The Shema as a Performative Praxis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In theory, “we” do not engage in magic – “they” do (or often, “she” does). Magic (kishuf) is forbidden in the Torah and again in the Mishnah and the Talmud, and those who practice it are to be punished with death. The Torah commands: “You shall not let a sorceress (mekhashefah) live” (Exodus 22:17), and the rabbis determined that a sorcerer – man or woman – should be sentenced to death by stoning.1 Needless to say, in view of such explicit laws, “we,” and especially our social and cultural leaders who are endowed with ritual power (that is, power resulting from ceremonial actions), do not engage in magic!
Original languageEnglish GB
Title of host publicationHear, O Israel
Subtitle of host publicationThe Magic of the Shema
EditorsNancy Benovitz, Dudi Mevorach
Place of PublicationJerusalem
PublisherIsrael Museum
ISBN (Print)9789652785275
StatePublished - 2021


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