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Practicing Sorcery

“You should not eat on blood” (Vayikra 19,26). Rashi explains that this verse alludes to the prohibition of eating sacrifices before their blood has been sprinkled on the altar, as well as eating an animal before it dies (eiver min hachai). Chazal add that the Torah is also teaching us that a person should not eat before he has prayed to Hashem for his blood (Berachos 10b).

After commanding not to eat on blood, the Torah proceeds with the prohibitions of performing witchcraft and necromancy. The Zohar explains that the Torah equates one who eats before tefillah with someone who performs sorcery. What is the connection between these two prohibitions? The Zohar continues, “When a person goes to sleep at night, his soul leaves his body. When he wakes up in the morning a spirit of impurity envelops him, which is removed when one washes his hands. Even after the elimination of that spirit, a person is dominated by his physicality [which the Torah refers to as 'his blood']. As soon as a person prays, his soul regains control.

“However, by eating before praying, a person is reinforcing the physicality in his body, and in doing so he is similar to those who perform witchcraft and necromancy who would also draw from impure sources in order to perform their black magic” (Zohar, Terumah 115b). The Zohar clearly treats eating before tefillah as a very serious matter. Let us familiarize ourselves with the halachos of this topic, which shall enable us to avoid the spiritual dangers described in the Zohar.

Text Copyright © 2013 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and



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