Magical Powers
Rabbi Reuven Mann - Dean, Masoret Institute
The idea that objects possess supernatural powers is absolutely contrary to Torah. The Torah makes it clear that nature operates according to fixed laws. Thus, objects only possess the natural powers they are endowed with. Whenever something occurs outside the frame of natural law the only cause is the Divine Will, i.e., what we call Providence. In the war against Amalek when Moshe lifted his hands the Jews would prevail and when he lowered them they would falter. Yet Rashi asks, "can the hands of Moshe wage war?" So too in the case of the copper snake those bitten would gaze upon the snake and be healed. Would you say that the copper snake had a special power to heal? Here too Rashi asks, "Can a snake heal?" and continues to explain that when the Jews subordinated their hearts to G-d then He would cure them.The same is true regarding the hands of Moshe. From the question of Rashi we can clearly deduce that he rejected the notion of ascribing non-natural powers to physical objects. It is important to remember the Chizkiyahu destroyed the copper snake when the people began to attribute powers to it. The jar of manna and many other objects were hidden for the same reason.
G-d did not give us any objects to cure us or help us with our problems. He told us that our fate would be determined purely by the quality of our faith, obedience to His will and level of perfection. If the stones of the ephod had the power to cause pregnancy why did Channa pray so bitterly and offer the child to G-d's service? Why were there any barren women? It is not mentioned that Channa or the woman who hosted Elisha swallowed any dust in order to become pregnant. This attitude of course represents a complete distortion of mitzvohs as the Rambam explains in regard to using mezzuah for medicinal purposes. On this point all intelligent people should agree.
Finally it is not our burden to disprove an idea which is contrary to Torah and common sense understanding of Torah. It is the burden of the person asserting a notion which runs contrary to the basic principals of Torah to demonstrate through authoritative and unimpeachable sources that his strange interpretation is authentic.