Thursday, December 11, 2014


An Energy Healing Experience

A family member of mine asked…

I’ve been ill for some time.  I had this experience today and ask for your comments on it...

I went for a medical massage today, my chavrusha paid for it.  The idea being, I think, that the pain and the illness are causing tension and tightening of muscles, which reinforces the pain and illness.

Anyway, the woman performing the massage talked about energy healing and feeling my energy through touch and I became concerned - is there "energy healing" approaches that are considered kosher?

The woman was a frum woman (an orthodox religiously observant Jewess) in a very charedi (extremely strictly religiously observant) community - but given all I've read on Mystical Paths, I thought she may not know the root of her work.

She waved her hands over me and it made me really uncomfortable, making me think it could be avoda zara (a form of idol worship or from the practices of non-monotheistic religions).

Should I be worried and/or avoid such things?


Reb Akiva answered…  This one is more tricky than others. Most forms of this are a problem, some forms might be ok, and most forms are probably shtuss (shtuss – silliness, meaning in this case having no objective basis in reality – no physical action is occuring) in addition to being avoda zara. 

YET the mind/brain itself has a great ability to deal with some types of problems - and even if shtuss it may subject a strong believer in the healing action (person / energy / act / medicine) to the placebo affect and therefore be effective simply on the basis of believing in it.  The placebo affect (believe in a health / medicine solution and it will have a positive impact) has been proven to work with problems that could respond to direct brain / nervous system responses (meaning things like pain, tension, even some types of swelling or nervous system problems).  Even healing speed and immune system response can be affected, as the mind is unconsciously activating natural body abilities in response to the believed-yet-fake treatment or medication.  (In other diseases, such as cancer, the placebo affect has been shown to, in about 25% of the cases, affect pain and appetite, but not actually help with the cancer / tumors.)

From the patient’s perspective the result can be the same (as if the healing technique was real) as a treatment, that is, real body impact. 

If it makes the practitioner happy and she's not muttering any kind of names, referring to any entities, or foreign terms, just ignore.  There is certainly strong historical belief in spiritual healing, including within Jewish sources.  Similarly we have stories of doctors who have healed just by being there. Again, do they have a malach (angel) of healing following them around, or help people focus their own abilities (invoking a placebo effect), or?

If someone said they want to do Reiki or some system of energy healing, I'd avoid it as prohibited. If a sincere religious person says they "feel some healing energy and want to move it around" - I wouldn't pay for it, but I wouldn't be afraid or avoid it.  (In the next answer, Reb Gutman explains why I AM WRONG – it should be avoided.)

Reb Gutman answers… Hashem (G-d) heal you fully and quickly.

Energy healing is wrong and it does not heal anyone. It is rooted in the wrong assumption that a natural feeling can heal. It surely is used in avodah zara (foreign religious practices but meaning idol worship or non-monotheistic religions – involving other gods and entities) too, but obviously the practitioner you visited doesn’t know it. The physical aspects of it, ie the feelings the person being worked on feels themselves do no harm (nor good) but thinking that they are special or proper spiritual “energy” does harm.

If you read Coming Back to Earth remember when I sat on the corner in NY and thousands of people came and sat by me to feel the “energy.” It can be palpable but it has no healing aspects to it at all unless someone thinks that he or she is being healed by it and then that person will have a psychological “healing” ie in their mind.

I assume that you are trying the mainstream medical advice. Alternatives can sometimes help.  Massage and acupuncture can help with certain problems but don’t put your entire hope in the alternatives systems. I’ve seen a number of people find great relief in diet change.

Hashem bless you and your family to have only joy.


  1. With the possible exception of acupuncture, none of these alternative methods of physical healing have been proved to work long term. It is too good to be true. Else, why would we need so many doctors, surgeons, hospitals, etc if these arcane methods were effective?

  2. I agree with Rev Akiva. The mind can heal the body. When you get the mind working with the emotional, working with the body, there is healing. We have so many western minded doctors because there is money in treating the symptoms. They don't want to find the root cause. Yes, be very careful what you get into, but stay on the natural path as much as possible.

  3. I do not wish to encourage Avodah Zarah so please correct me I am wrong, but I have used a combination of massage and Osteopathy to fix a damaged shoulder (torn rotator cuff).

    I would have the treatment once every two weeks.
    The massage was two or three days before the Osteopathy, in order to soften up the muscle tissue.

    The Osteopathy took two forms.
    One was quite conventional, it was manipulating the shoulder joint combined with stretching exercises.
    The second was Cranial Osteopathy where the Osteopath held his hands on my skull.
    He was not transferring energy he was manipulating the bones of the skull in order to effect change in the body because those bones are connected to other parts of the body.

    The treatment was to stimulate and catalyse the body's natural healing methods.
    Certainly no strange language was spoken or names invoked.

  4. Osteopaths and Chiropractors both work by physically manipulating the body, bone positions, and nervous system (with a particular focus on the spine). They attempt to either clear, open or align actual physical systems to resolve problems or allow the body to bring natural healing systems into play.

    I have never heard of any osteopaths or chiropractors who invoke spiritual entities, powers, or spiritual energies.

    I have experienced chiropractors who have an almost spiritual belief that getting proper nervous system alignment can heal almost anything. And those that believe that manipulating or pressing on things that don't seem to move is also aligning and fixing something (like moving the skull bones of a full grown adult).

    While these approaches may or may not have scientific basis, they do not involve spiritual systems and therefore have no concerns. And I have certainly met people who get significant relief from such.


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