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If you can't manage to watch it, here's a synopsis (spoiler alert!):
A frum friend of Rabbi Alpren was earning his doctorate in psychiatry at a university in America.
At the end of the course, the staff introduced a variety of alternative practitioners to the students: a herbalist, a hypnotist, and so on.
One of the last practitioners ended up being a witch, who showed up for around 3 sessions with the class.
Throughout, she demonstrated how she used her powers for "healing."
The frum student, who'd spent a year or two at a yeshivah in Yerushalayim, sat toward the left corner at the back of the lecture hall.
The witch explained her methods of black magic & spiritualism for "healing" people & "fixing" their problems, then ended the first session with an offer to demonstrate her powers.
After requesting that everyone raise their hand, she turned to one of the students who raised a hand, stared at that student, then revealed something personal about what that student was thinking.
Everyone was shocked.
But the frum student felt suspicious.
At the second session, the witch performed the same demonstration again. Yet something about her behavior caught the eye of the frum student: When she asked for volunteers, she avoid the left side of the room—the side on which the frum student sat.
He felt she was avoiding him.
After that second session, the frum student approached his professor and requested that at the next lecture, everyone should refrain from raising their hand; only the frum student would raise his hand to volunteer.
When the professor asked why, the frum student explained his feeling that the witch made every effort to avoid him, and he wanted to see what would happen if they left her with no other choice but him.
The professor agreed to this experiment.
So at the third session, only the frum student raised his hand to volunteer.
But the witch refused to look in his direction.
Finally, someone pointed out the frum student raising his hand.
But she still refused to look at the frum student.
After a bit, with everyone staring at her, she felt compelled to turn and set her gaze on him.
She turned white.
Then she fainted on the spot.
Medical assistance arrived & revived her.
When asked her what happened, she explained that the first time she entered the lecture hall, she felt somebody inhibiting her powers—somebody sitting in the left-hand corner.
"What's wrong with him?" they asked her.
"I can't read him," she said.
"He believes in God and he prays to God," she said. "I can't touch him."
Those Bothersome Jews...
Even more thought-provoking, a Jesuit priest sat in the same class.
Yet she only sensed an obstruction from the frum Jew.
Interestingly, she picked up on the Jew's belief & prayer when he wasn't even praying, not wearing tefillin, or doing anything else particularly religious. (But come to the think of it, he must have been wearing a kippah & tzitzit. So he was doing something religious at that moment, even though only the kippah would've been visible from her position.)
It's like the Shacharit he davened earlier stuck to him without his even realizing it.
And how much kavanah did he even daven with? Maybe a tremendous amount, maybe average, or maybe distracted...who knows?
If you pay attention to the words of Shacharit (morning prayer service), particularly the initial blessings & requests, you see a lot of heartfelt pleas for protection. Pitom HaKetoret (which not everyone says regularly) also provides powerful protection against all sorts of things—including kishuf (sorcery, magic, occult).
But there's still more to the story...
What the Torah Sage Said about It
Upon hearing the story, the Rosh Yeshivah said, "What are you so amazed about? Didn't you know the power of prayer? Do you know what you are, what happens when you pray to God and you believe in God? You have such enormous powers of holiness—you're a different person!"
And that's a fundamental truth with which we often lose touch.
- Part 1: What's So Bad about Kishuf? A Look at Halacha, the Rational vs the Supernatural, the 80 Witches of Ashkelon, and the Machshefah Midwife of the Me'am Lo'ez
- Part II: What's the Problem with Kishuf?–A Torah Discussion of Witchcraft, Sorcery, and the Occult from Both the Rationalist & Supra-Rationalist POV