January 16, 2019

The Magic of Judaism

“The New York Historical Society’s “Harry Potter: A History of Magic” exhibit isn’t quite Hogwarts, but as you step through the doors, it almost seems that as long as you have a wand in your hand, you can do anything.

Broomsticks, plants and other bizarre decorations dangle from the ceiling. Throughout the exhibition, glass cases display historical artifacts linked to legends, many of which inspired ideas in J.K. Rowling’s books. Along the walls are manuscripts of deleted Harry Potter chapters and artwork by the illustrators of the books. There are even a few interactive experiences where you can mix up a virtual potion or wave your hands over a crystal ball and watch images appear in its depths. And of course, there’s a room for nearly every class that the witches and wizards in the Harry Potter books attend. In short, it is the kind of place where magic almost seems real.

As a lifelong Harry Potter fan, this exhibition was unbelievable, but what about as a Jew? When the Torah speaks about magic, it is very often in a negative way. And even if we could, Jews aren’t allowed to cast spells. It is Hashem who controls the world and to whom we look for miracles and salvation. So, is it wrong if we still feel disappointed that we didn’t get “the letter” around our 11th birthdays?”

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