Magic and Judaism
Where does that leave us, the modern people who do not believe in these things?
Worse, it seems that major portions of the Jewish community believe in magic so much that even non-Jewish magic will do. Alternative medicine is big business and alternative practitioners abound in the Jewish community. Acupuncture, the manipulation of imaginary "meridians" through imaginary organs, to promote the flow of imaginary "chi", is immensely popular. (See http://www.quackwatch.org and search for a full discussion of these subjects) Homeopathy, the outdated and scientifically disprovable notion from the late 1700s that like cures like when diluted to nonexistent levels is still the favored method of treatment and cure for many people. And the Rabbis are just as supportive of these things as anyone else.
In Israel, mekubalim are running around giving psychic advice, giving out "kamia" (magic amulets), even giving medical advice or doing magic cures, all with tacit support from rabbis, or at least wink wink from rabbis and authorities.
How deeply does the Orthodox Jew have to be involved or at least believe in magic in order to remain frum?
As a test case, I would like to propose a simple test for the infamous pidgeon cure for hepatitis. If you have been around hassidic or other hareidi type communities for any length of time, you have no doubt heard of the ability of some people to cure hepatitis by placing pidgeons on the patient's navel. This procedure requires no double blind procedure, since the effects are apparent. Let us set up a study of 100 patients who have untreated hepatitis, and administer the pidgeon cure. Measure bilirubin and any other liver health factors before the procedure, immediately after the procedure and at regular intervals for a short time thereafter. Since, we are dealing with a potentially deadly illness, obviously, medical professionals should be involved so as not to prevent a patient from getting actual effective treatment in due time. At the end of the study, we would have plenty of actual numbers to talk about that are not affected by the placebo effect or other factors. Either we will finally scientifically dispense with this notion, or we will find some medical paradigm that cures a deadly disease.
Also, I have heard it claimed that this treatment has some ancient Jewish source, but I am unable to find anyone who can locate it, proponent or opponent. Can anyone refer me to an old Jewish source of this pidgeon practice?