Reader: Dear Rabbi: I just read
your section about kabbalists/mystics and agree with much of what you wrote.
However, my wife had an experience with a kabbalist who visited our town
several years ago that I'd like to mention.
She had just lost custody of her son (from a previous marriage) several months ago, but made no mention of it to the kabbalist. Rather, as soon as she sat down, he looked at her and reported that he was getting mixed signals as to whether she had children or not (i.e., did she have, or did she not have). Coincidence? Verbal trickery? As I reported, she had not so much as opened her mouth before he said this.
Also, I recall a story told about the "Bais Yisrael" (late Gerrer rebbe) who admonished a ba'al teshuva who came to ask for a blessing before returning to the States about his Gentile girlfriend (whom he'd told no one about). Moreover, stories are legion down through the ages about chachamim (sefardi, ashkenazi, chassidic) who were privy to information about people that no one had told them about.
How do you account for all these stories? All fabrications? And besides, these are not 'miracles' being claimed; rather "knowledge" that this chacham (sage) seemed to possess, perhaps as a result of his righteousness? Do you acknowledge the existence of 'ruach hakodesh' (as distinct from prophecy) that certain chachamim can possess?
A grateful reader
Mesora: Rule number one: most of these stories are never first-hand accounts. Don’t buy into them so fast. Rule number two: those who go to mystics have an expressed desire to believe them. They distort what actually took place: these mystic-going Jews need very little to latch onto, as they are desperate for quick fixes, and emotionally appealing “solutions” to their problems.
You must know that people go to mystics only when in crisis, not when things are good, thus, the additional motivation to escape an emotionally disturbing situation. They arrive with a conviction that they will receive some positive, earth-shattering and “true” news about themselves. They need little to convince them, as they already are believers.
The mystic can say just a single word that the listener wants to hear, and the listener will then completely misconstrue his words or intent, projecting onto these words their own fabricated dream. Thereby, we explain away such accounts as credible. When an emotional need is great, man’s mind is weak, and he cannot discern well. In such states, one would benefit a world of difference by seeking counsel from a chacham, a wise man, not the phony mystics and kabbalists who feign super-human knowledge, but have to charge $4.95 per session.
If man truly knew someone else’s thoughts, he would rise to instant fame and success, as such knowledge would be indispensable by governments. This is the story of Joseph who told Pharaoh his interpretations, and then was promoted to Viceroy of Egypt. Can these self-proclaimed mystics and kabbalists match Daniel, who not only told Nevuchadnezzar his interpretation, but his forgotten dream as well? I think not.
Such practice ruins the name of Judaism, all for the sake of money. It is despicable and a Chillul Hashem, defamation of G-d’s name: the Torah becomes valued only as long as it satisfies someone’s emotional needs.
Man has but five senses, and none include the ability to mind-read. Additionally, prophecy has long since expired from us, as the Talmud says. And if someone has Ruch HaKodesh, a Divine Spirit, I am certain he won’t abuse it in such a fashion as present day kabbalists do. Certainly, G-d would not bestow such a gift on those unfit.