Sunday, July 19, 2009

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Clean & Unclean Mystical Powers - Part 1

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

A friend of mine recently returned from visiting his father in Russia. Although his father is a Jew, he has become a “devout” x-ian over the years. His father took my friend to visit his spiritual mentor, wanting to show him why he adopted that religion. The mentor has a reputation for being a “Master of Icons.” He took my friend into his kitchen. The walls were covered with various types of x-ian icons and imagines that are offensive to a Torah-observant Jew. As soon as my friend walked into the room, he felt a very strong physical power come over him. This was not merely an urge. It was a palpable energy that was trying to force him to bow down to those icons! He had to fight hard not to give into the power. He yelled and ran out of the house to escape its pull. What was this power?

A long time ago, I visited a world-famous guru in India.[i] The guru asked a visitor, “Do you like diamonds?” When the visitor said yes, the guru waived his hand and a diamond appeared in his hand! It was not there before he waived his hand. He often does this with precious items, religious symbols, or seemingly anything that he wants to “materialize.” Ashes come out of pictures of this guru when his devotees sing their religious songs in front of them, even many miles away from the guru. What is this power?

A x-ian gently laid his hand upon a stranger who was visiting the church for the first time. The stranger was not even a x-ian. The visitor collapsed, unable to stand. They call this being “slain in the spirit.” Another man in a wheelchair was touched by a “healer.” He jumped out of his wheelchair, walked, and called out, “I haven’t walked in weeks!” What is this power?

Two x-ian proselytizers stopped at a young religious Jew’s house. The Jew wrote about the experience:

“I have no desire to believe in what he's trying to sell me. What kept me curious and not sending him off was the experience he and his follower spoke of...’when the spirit comes over me, it feels so good’ he said. I was curious about this feeling of spirit coming into their body, not about believing anything. I wonder if it's possible to experience what they're talking about without believing what they're talking about... but just to be careful of dangerous spiritual influences. I imagine I should avoid both.”

What is this experience that they are talking about “when the spirit comes over” them? Can you have such an experience without endangering your spiritual path, or your very soul? Should this man be careful about dabbling in such spiritual curiosity? If these are genuine experiences, and not merely sleight-of-hand or group hysteria, why does G-d place such dangerous things before us?

We are told that physical poisons can be rendered harmless by diluting them with water. The dangerous effects of some poisons can be nullified by mixing them with a little more than an equal amount of water. For these poisons, when the majority of the mixture is water, they are rendered harmless. Other, stronger types of poison must have 60 times more water then poison in order to nullify them. Then, there are some poisons that are so strong that it takes 1000 times more water than poison to nullify their harmful effect.

But with idolatry, we are warned that no amount of goodness mixed with the idolatry will nullify its evil effect. This means that even if the idolatry also has 1000 good teachings, (such as “do not steal”), if there is even the slightest bit of idolatry there, the 1000 good teachings or deeds do not nullify the evil effect of that religion or philosophy. It must be completely rejected. So the curious Jew was very wise to say that he should avoid both the belief in that idolatry and investigating the spiritual experiences that come from it.

Early one Shabbos morning, a non-Jewish man approached me at the Kotel with a look of reverence. He spoke serenely, a bit other-worldly. He wanted to know who were the voices talking to him from the “Wall.” “They are saying that bad things are going to happen here,” he said. Are we to believe that G-d was talking to this tourist? Was this a true, wondrous Bas Kol (Voice from Heaven) experience, or was this just another tourist experiencing Jerusalem Syndrome?

Jerusalem Syndrome is a malady that sometimes hospitalizes visitors in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a unique city. Its history and many holy sites are enough to overwhelm visitors’ imaginations. Jerusalem also has a palpable holiness permeating its atmosphere that adds to this feeling. For some reason, some people have difficulty understanding these influences. When they experience this confusion some of them imagine themselves to be a Biblical personality or perhaps a new prophet.

Why does G-d cause this to happen? How are we to distinguish a true prophet from someone who is suffering from this not-so-uncommon psychosis?

The Torah warns us, “If a [false] prophet does a wonder … .”[ii] Can a false prophet do a wonder? Apparently he can, or the Torah would not warn us about this.

Is there really an unclean power in the East that allows that guru to seemingly materialize those objects? The Torah tells us that Abraham gave gifts to the sons he fathered with Keturah, and then he sent them to the East.[iii] Rashi tells us that these gifts were “names of unclean powers.”

When Moshe threw down his staff before Pharaoh, it turned into a snake. This was intended to be a sign that Hashem had sent him. So we see that miraculous deeds and wonders can be used as signs. But then Pharaoh’s magicians threw down their staffs and they too became snakes. So which sign is the one to follow? Moshe’s “snake” ate the magicians’ snakes. So then are we to go with the one who does the greatest wonders?

There are many examples of such mysterious experiences happening within the various religious practices in the world today. With these mystical powers openly demonstrated in so many religions, how is one to choose the proper path to follow? Are these wonders proof that their teachings are correct? Are they the signs and wonders that G-d sends to guide His people to the proper spiritual goal? Surely the people in these religions believe that they are. These are obviously “supernatural” powers, so are these proofs that the spiritual teachings of the ones doing them are proper and should be followed?

(To be continued)

[i] See Coming Back To Earth.
[ii] Deuteronomy 13:2
[iii] Genesis 25:6

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Blessings Rabbi Gutman.
i am a noahide living in SE Asia. my husband is a practising hindu, and we married (i was a xtn then) at a time when there was no internet here nor any jewish links or ties.
you wrote about idolatry. that a 1000 good things it teaches does not make it less harmful.

why does Hashem bring one member out of idolatry and another remains an idolater? if one looks at qualities and character, my husband is a much better person than i am in the sense he is very respectful to elders, patient and the rest of it. perhaps because i was a xtn, and already exposed to the old testament it was easier for me to leave the false jezus. however, in a country where there are no form of jewish characteristics or people or synagogue, how does one bring knowledge of the holy torah and its laws to others.
so how is my husband responsible for what he worships.
Correct me if i am wrong, but there was a king (i think it was King Menashe) whose punishment was deferred for not listening to loshon hara on the prophet during his time.
blessings.

Michael said...

Welcome to the world of mind power and thought control. It is a perfectly (super)natural law of the mind, so there is no reason for it not being utilised by other religions. Napoleon once stopped a whole army from attacking him with his eyes. Hitler YShV, knew these secrets too.
Non of this compairs to the power of the Holy Shekhina dwelling with our tzaddikim.

wlmh65 said...

Because the J-worshipping religion began in insanity (Paul, its founder, saw visions, then ran off to the east to mislead people for years rather than talking to those in Jerusalem who knew the facts) is it any surprise there are insane forces attached to that religion today?

Shiloh said...

Interesting article. It seems throughout history for every Torah truth, there is a mirror of it, of which is a lie. HaShem is testing us constantly.

Anonymous said...

"The walls were covered with various types of x-ian icons.."

how is this different from putting up pictures of tzaddikim in our homes or sukkahs. I know of lubavitchers who speak to their pictures of the Rebbe. There are xtians who view their icons the same way jews view tzaddikim. How is this any different? I don't want to be seen as combative I'm just asking an honest question. I've learned to be objective and look at both sides of the coin so to speak.

mink said...

I found this very interesting. I am a great fan of your book "Coming Back to Earth," and, just out of curiousity, recently took out of the library the hippie classic "Be Here Now," to see if it seemed as compelling to me as it did when I was younger. I was absolutely floored to discover, since I never really read the thing before (just the pretty brown pages, which seem so silly now), that "Ram Dass" fell for his guru simply because he had the power to read his thoughts. But no question of what this power meant, the truth of the religion he followed, no critical thought, nothing--he just leapt. You should really manage somehow to get your book a wider readership--it will save a lot of Jews a lot of trouble and a lot of wrong turns.

josh said...

I've heard of tzaddikim doing 'tricks' with arak or wine. What are they trying to prove?

Anonymous said...

rav nachman said for ever holy power there is an unholy power to counter it for every moses and abraham and rabbi akiva a jesus a bilaam and pharoah to counter. this is part of our tshuvah to chose our side do we want jesuses powers or baba salis and the rebbe of chabads powers . its all very insane !I believe the power f christ is the most powerful in the unholy side thats why its the religion of those who killed 10s of millions during golut and destroyed the 2nd temple -----edom /amalak ! If only Hashem allowed rabbi akiva and the great bar kochba to defeat rome before it took on the powers of christ to rule israel , kill israel and convert israel !

Anonymous said...

I believe many sources believe christ will reincarnate into armilius and rabbi akiva will incarnate into mashiach ben yosef . most sources say christ / armilius will slay ben yosef with his powers but the gra holds he wont because of the stones and suffering ben yosef endured from heaven so he wont die at christs/ armiliuses hands these are the words of the Gra in kol hator . armilius for sure is the leader of gog and magog in most sources . the rebbe of chabad when asked why christianity was introduced to the world and why the holocaust happened answered both with we dont know why . the rambam hold xtianity forbidden to non jews , the ramban forbidden ineretz yisrael ok outside of it . the 7 laws of noah xtianity is the BIGGEST stumbling block for with it there is a God stronger then the God of Jacob !

Anonymous said...

I mean there god is more powerful then the God of jacob in the idolaters eyes , but oviousely not in reality chasfer Shalom ! Im sorry for offending anyone in mentioning the founder of xtianities name so much but we are currentely in a spiritual war gog and magog with xtianity for the souls and hearts and land of Israel so his unholy name must be mentioned to emphasize the gravity of our needed return to Hashem , prayers for geulah , destruction of all idolatris symbols in the holy land a mitzvah deritah etc etc !who though will listen who will make the change that brings us all redemption ? !

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