Q: Are tai chi or rai kei permissible practices? What about yoga? Is it permissible to use the alef beit to heal?
A: The issue of alternative healing is certainly complex. Many people have turned to us with questions similar to yours. To answer your specific questions: The Chinese symbols in rei kai are definitely tools of avodah zarah, idol worship, and should not be used. Likewise, it is forbidden to use the pendulum for diagnosis. It is permissible to use the alef beit (in the intentions of ones prayers) to heal. However, under no circumstances should this form of healing be given a foreign name, such as (Jewish) rei kai, G-d forbid. Regarding Tai Chi, it is forbidden. These exercises draw energy from impure sources.
All wisdom must derive from the Torah. Yoga has negative energy which is connected to Avodah Zarah, idol worship, and is thus unacceptable, even if the person practicing does not have these negative thoughts.
The “claim” that these methods of healing are part of the ancient teachings that Abraham sent east with his sons is not serious. Were it serious, it would be even worse, for the ‘gifts’ that Abraham sent east with his non-Jewish, idolatrous sons (of his maid-servant Ketura) were in fact “impure names [mantras],” i.e., names and practices for the spiritually impure. They are certainly not for Jews, the descendants of Issac and Jacob. Abraham sent his foreign sons away to prevent them from mixing with Issac.
Surely, everything on “the other side” has its parallel in the “side of holiness.” In addition to the spiritual (and physical) practices and disciplines which we have received directly from our forefathers and from Sinai, one of the essential powers inherent in our Torah is its ability to “clarify” and “redeem” fallen, Divine sparks, scattered throughout reality, especially in the foreign garb of non-Jewish wisdoms and spiritual practices.
The beginning of any “clarification” process based upon Torah (and how much the more so with regard to any wisdom or practice which we have directly inherited from our tradition) is renouncing the non-Jewish “name” (in which inheres the spiritual source) attached to and identified with the wisdom or practice to be clarified.
A “name” implies a total “way” and philosophy. “Clarification” always relates to (good) “points,” never to complete “ways,” in which the good “points” are in exile.
Therefore, the very usage of the name “yoga, tai chi, etc.” whether prefaced with the word “Jewish” or not, does not allow for true clarification. In fact, the juxtaposition of the two terms “Jewish yoga” is shatneiz, an improper mixture.
The Gal Einai Institute in Israel is in the process of developing Jewish healing exercises based on Kabbalah. A number of classes are already under way. Contact us for more information.