Psychic Faith Healers Belie Jewish Tradition
The practice of “faith healing” carries obvious dangers, such as discouraging those who need conventional medical help from seeking it. When the “healer” charges for it, the obvious worry is financial exploitation of the vulnerable and naÃ¯ve.
And I, for one, am more disturbed when the person charging for this “help” is a respected figure such as a rabbi. Yet in my own Jewish community, I’m seeing a rise in rabbinical authorities charging money for psychic healing sessions.
Rabbi Mendel Morosow, for instance, in a recent interview on the Jewish news site COLlive, claimed to have healed a boy by simply “focus[ing] energy on him for a few minutes,” so that the boy “no longer need[ed] any operation.” He further claimed to have healed someone from gout — also through “focused energy.”
According to his own site, Morosow charges $300 an hour for his services.
Over the years, I’ve personally come to know at least five psychic healers in my Jewish community. I have family members who’ve paid for these “services.”
It was troubling to see Rabbi Morosow, like me a member of Chabad-Lubavitch, describe his practice as being consistent with Chabad and Judaism.
I’m sorry: Charging exorbitant hourly rates for faith-healing “services” belie Chabad values and Jewish tradition. It’s what televangelist faith healers like Peter Popoff do, not mainstream rabbis.
Yes, countless stories attest to the efficacy and care of the late Rebbe Menachem M. Schnerson‘s blessings and counsel. But the Rebbe never claimed to possess psychic or supernatural healing powers. He even once crossed out the word “psychic” when a PhD student used that term to describe his powers.
And he never charged money to those who sought his advice or blessings. Indeed, he customarily gave them dollars.
And the Rebbe encouraged those with physical issues to seek medical help; often suggesting they seek the advice of several doctors to ensure the right treatment was being pursued.
Maimonides, the physician and Torah scholar, embraced the need to work within nature in order to heal sickness. He scoffed at the notion that disregarding nature, by avoiding medical advice, could ever be the will of God — and prohibited using spiritual incantations to cure physical wounds.
Rabbi Morosow does recommend medical intervention in the case of a “serious health issue,” which certainly suggests any of his positive results are merely from the placebo effect. A widely cited Journal of American Medical Association study showed “therapeutic energy” healers couldn’t even detect the presence of a concealed hand from a few inches away.
Bottom line: As appropriate as it may be for clergy to treat spiritual and emotional issues, physical ailments should be the sole province of medical professionals. Religious authorities who charge money for mystical treatments are tarnishing the faith.