No Sorcery

Parshat שופטים has a serious warning against practicing all kinds of witchcraft and sorcery. It includes soothsayers and talking to the dead.

The end of this section tells us that we are to be תמים תהיה עם ה׳ אלוקיך, that we are to be “complete” with Hashem our G-d. We are to put our faith and trust in Him only.

It may be a little surprising to note that the Rambam counts no less than fifty-one laws out of 613 in the category of עבודה זרה.

There are forty-nine negative commandments and two positive. The two positive Mitzvot are that we are to destroy the עיר הנידחת, the condemned city. And the second is that we are to destroy all forms of idol worship in Israel.

The forty-nine negative Mitzvot include the prohibition to make idols or to pay attention to false prophets.

Rabbeinu Bechaye explains that there is power to the צד הטומאה, the side of impurity. This is what might be the allure to such sorcery. Nevertheless, we are not to be drawn after the impure. We are to stay firm and unwavering in remaining close to the pure and holy.