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Die Auslegung der biblischen Verbote der Wahrsagerei, Beschwörung und Hellseherei in der Mishneh Torah Maimunis

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AbstractThe objective of the article is to present the overall picture of Maimonides’s views on magic. As the point of departure, three halakhot prohibiting various types of magical practices have been selected from Maimonides’s code of Law, the Mishne Tora. While the first two refer rather to the popular forms of folk magic and superstition, fortune telling and conjuring, the third prohibition addresses its learned form, astral magic, which in Maimonides’s opinion was the most vicious one. First of all, the article focuses on outlining the extent of diffusion of the above magical practices in the Jewish diaspora during Maimonides’s lifetime, to subsequently explore the epistemological grounds providing the basis for Maimonides's sweeping criticism of magic. Maimonides was convinced that the magical phenomena cannot be subsumed under the rubric of natural causality; they belong to the realm of chance and accident. Belief in the efficacious character of magical activities is actually a result of erroneous cognitive process, according to Maimonides. In principle, Maimonides’s epistemological analysis of the foundations of magical beliefs has much in common with the views voiced by modern positivist anthropology, for example that of Sir James George Frazer.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Jewish Studies, The Hussite Theological Faculty, Charles University in Prague Czech Republic, Email:, URL:


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