Ask the Rabbi

  • Torah and Jewish Thought
  • The Resurrection of the Dead and World to Come

Spiritual Artist


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Iyyar 1, 5775
Shalom U’Beracha. I was presented with a very interesting question which has practical ramifications, and I wanted a P’sak of sorts. I have a friend who, R"L, lost both of his parents when he was in his late teens and early twenties. He is now 36. Obviously, someone like him would be more intrigued than an average person by the concept of an "afterlife" (Olam HaNeshamos, Olam HaBa - whichever). He would obviously want to know if he will ever see his parents again. One day recently, we discussed a woman who lives in Boston named Rita Berkowitz. She is a so-called spiritual artist. That means that whereas most psychics can be frauds and fakes, she actually draws a sketch of the "spirit" (or soul) that she is seeing, and there’s no room for fraudulent behavior. Meaning, you come in, she asks your name, and it begins. There’s no time for her to do research on the Internet or anything of that sort which might make things more suspect. The following is a link to the section of her website which contains the comparisons between the photos and the drawings:!spirit-drawings/cuet In short, the Shaila here is as follows: If someone is already a Maamin (believer), but his belief would be strengthened by seeing such a phenomenon, and/or if someone is in the position of my friend, who would gain tremendous Menuchas Hanefesh from this, is there any problem with speaking to her and getting a drawing from her? Also, if there are parameters, what are the parameters? Yasher Koach.
ב"ה Shalom First allow me to say that your concern for your friend is admirable. However, even before getting into Halachic issues, my primary concern is the emotional health of your friend. If the loss of his parents has a negative effect on him, he should be in contact with professional therapists who deal with loss and bereavement. Even if meeting with this spiritual artist, would be permitted from the Halachic point of you, and I don't think it is, only a professional therapist would be able to say if meeting would such a person is advisable. As far as the halachic aspect is concerned, I can only give general guidelines and not a Psak. I cannot really know the essence of what this person does from a website and therefore cannot give you a decisive answer. I would assume that local Rabbis who know of this phenomenon would have a better understanding of what is done, if it's real or not and if it's permissible and they should be contacted to receive a final psak. From my superficial understanding from what you described, the medium through which this woman makes contact with the deceased may be forbidden by Torah law. In other words, the fact that you think she is not fraudulent is all the more a reason not to speak to her because what she does may be a Torah transgression of trying to communicate with the dead. (דברים יח:יא, וספר החינוך פרשת שופטים מצווה תקט"ו ) To sum up once again; If your friend is in need of emotional help he must seek professional therapy in addition to emotional support from friends and spiritual guidance from a Rabbi. In order to verify if what this woman does, you should speak to a local Rabbi. All the best
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