Using and practicing Non-conventional medicine-Part 2-The prohibition of Darkei Emori and Sorcery and Avoda Zara
A. The prohibition of Darkei Emori:
What is Darkei Emori: Darkei Emori is literally defined as the ways of the Emorites. The Torah prohibits a Jew to follow the paths of the Emorites, which refers to the performance of actions that have no logic behind them and towards what they are desired to accomplish. This prohibition is possibly rooted in one of several negative commands such as “Bechukoseihem Lo Seleichu”, and “Lo Sinacheish” and practices of Avoda Zara, and Kishuf/sorcery.
The ruling for nonconventional medical treatment: Any medical treatment that works in accordance to Segulah [i.e. supernatural causes] rather than natural cause and effect [i.e. scientifically based] does not contain the prohibition of Darkei Emori so long as it is recognizable [to the onlookers] that it’s intent is for the sake of healing [and the treatment has been established to be effective and it does not come from idolatry or Kishuf]. This allowance applies even though it remains unknown as to how the ailment is healed through doing the above action. However, if one does an action that is not recognizable [to the public] that it is being done for the sake of healing [and certainly if it’s effectiveness has not been established], then it is forbidden to do so due to Darkei Emori, as the Torah warned us against doing such practices as we may not go in the paths of the gentiles.
The ruling by an incantation: It is permitted to recite incantations for the sake of healing, or for the sake of protection in order to prevent illness or injury. This applies even if one does not know for certain that the incantation works or not. However, if one knows for certain that the incantation does not work then it is forbidden to say it due to Darkei Emori. Furthermore, there are opinions who question that perhaps any incantation that is not verified to work, and every Kamiah that is not verified to work, contains the prohibition of Darkei Emori. Practically, [while we rule like the first opinion] every Baal Nefesh is to suspect for their words (in a situation which does not contain much need).
Any supernatural treatment that makes use of sorcery or idolatry is forbidden to be performed by a Jew even if they have been proven to work, and are recognizably done for medical treatment. Accordingly, any alternative treatment that originated from sorcerers and idol worshipers is forbidden to be performed by a Jew even if they have been proven to work, and are recognizably done for medical treatment. Only those treatments that were innovated by the doctors and medical practitioners do not contain Darkei Emori even if they work based on Segula [if they work and are recognizable].
Koseim/Nichush: Predicting, diagnosing, and basing decisions using supernatural forces, or actions that have no natural explanation, is prohibited due to Kosem, or Nichush, or Tamim Tihyeh. [Some of the alternative medicinal practices, such as the pendulum and applied kinesiology, may enter into this prohibition, and will IY”H be discussed into a future article.]
If one is unsure of the supernatural treatment’s origin, may it nevertheless be used?
Some Poskim rule that a treatment whose source is not known if it came from medicine or idolaters, is forbidden due to Safek Darkei Emori and Kishuf. Other Poskim however argue and rule that in all cases that it is not known that it was innovated by idolatry or Kishuf one may use the treatment if it is known to work and is recognizably done for healing.
Those forms of alternative healing which work in a supernatural method and have no natural understanding as to their healing capability may only be used if all the following conditions are met:
In the above case, it is permitted to make use of an alternative medical treatment even though it is not understood by medical science and involves an unexplainable phenomenon.
How often must a supernatural medical treatment work for it to be considered permitted to be done?
If the practice has been proven to work three times for three different people then it is considered valid, even if at times it does not work.
Is the practitioner believed to say that his treatment works?
Yes. He is believed to say that it has worked a number of times on patients.
If a non-conventional action is widely practiced by people for medicinal purposes, can it be assumed to be Halachically permitted?
Some Poskim rule that all incantation and Kemias [or actions] that have been spread amongst G-d fearing can be assumed to be valid and not contain the prohibition of Darkei Emori.
 Admur 301:33
 See Rashi on Mishneh Shabbos 67a
 See Rama 178:1 “This is only forbidden if the clothing of the gentiles are worn by them for sake of frivolity [pritzus] or it is a gentile custom that has no logic behind it, as in such a case there is room to suspect that the custom derives from the Emorite customs, and that it derive from practices of idolatry passed down from their forefathers.”; See Kapos Temarim Yuma 831 and Chavos Yair 234 that Darkei Emori applies towards practices which the gentiles developed as a result of idolatry, in belief that these actions invoke assistance from their deities.
 See Minchas Yitzchak 6:80 that Darkei Emori was prohibited due to that the Emorites innovated the practices based on Kishuf.
 Admur 301:33; Michaber 301:27; Abayey and Rava Shabbos 67a
 Admur ibid; Michaber ibid; Rashi and Rosh on Shabbos ibid that it must be recognizable
The reason: The reason for why doing so does not contain Darkei Emori is because the Torah only prohibited actions that have no logic or understanding if they give no benefit. If however they are beneficial to heal, then they are permitted. [Ran ibid] Alternatively, only those actions listed in the Talmud that contain Darkei Emori are forbidden even if they work and are recognizably done for healing, as these actions derive from idolatry and Kishuf. However, all other actions that are not listed in the Talmud, are permitted to be done so long as they work and are recognizably done for healing, as they have no root in Kishuf and don’t appear like Darkei Emori. [Rashba 166; Pesach Devir 301:9; Beis Yosef Y.D. 178 in name of Hagahos Maimanis 11; See Minchas Yitzchak ibid]
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that any medical treatment that is not known to heal a certain illness is forbidden to be done due to Darkei Emori, even if people know that it is being done for the purpose of healing. On the other hand, if it is known to heal then it is not necessary that this healing be recognizable to others. [Ran on Shabbos ibid and Chulin; See Levushei Serud 301:27 in his explanation of Michaber ibid; Kaf Hachaim 301:160]
 Ran on Shabbos ibid and Chulin; implication of Rashi and Rosh on Shabbos ibid; Rambam Shabbos 19 “So long as the doctors say that it works”; Levushei Serud 301:27 [brought in Kaf Hachaim 301:160] in his explanation of Michaber ibid implies that Nikar:recognizable means that the treatment is known to work and is therefore recognizable that it is done for healing; M”B 301:105 “that it is not recognizable that it heals”; Minchas Yitzchak 6:80
Ruling of Admur: The fact that the treatment must be known to work is implied from the wording of Admur ibid and from fact that an incantation:Kemia is more lenient than a treatment, and there is a dispute by an incantation if it must be known to work, hence implying that by a treatment it must be known to work according to all. See also the coming footnotes.
 Shach 179:1 based on Piskei Terumos Hadeshen 96; Kapos Temarim Yuma 83a; Chavos Yair 234 “If it works through Segula it is valid, while if it works through celestial powers it is invalid”; Aruch Hashulchan 301:80; Minchas Yitzchak 6:80
The law if one does not know the source of the treatment: Some Poskim rule that any treatment that was innovated by the Dr’s and medical practice does not have Darkei Emori even if they work based on Segula [if they work and are recognizable], however those treatments that were innovated by idolaters or sorcerers, are forbidden due to Darkei Emori even if they work and are recognizable. [Kapos Temarim Yuma 83a; Chavos Yair 234 “If it works through Segula it is valid, while if it works through celestial powers it is invalid”; Minchas Yitzchak ibid] Accordingly, a treatment whose source is not known if it came from medicine or idolaters, is forbidden due to Safek Darkei Emori and Kishuf. [Minchas Yitzchak ibid] Other Poskim however argue and rule that in all cases that it is not known that it was innovated by idolatry or Kishuf, one may use the treatment if it is known to work and is recognizably done for healing. [Binyan Tziyon 1:67; See also Tzemach Tzedek 38 who permitted a Segula treatment on Shabbos without discussing that perhaps it comes from idolatry.]
 M”B 301:105; See Poskim in previous footnotes
 Admur ibid; Michaber ibid; Tosefta 8:11; Rashba 86
Explanation of Halacha: Tzaruch Iyun behind this Halacha and the reason for why its ruling differs from the previous ruling regarding illogical actions done for healing. In the previous ruling no mention was made regarding the success level of the treatment, and it simply has to be recognizable to others that it is done for medical purposes, irrelevant of whether it is understood or not or whether it works or not. In this Halacha however Admur depends the allowance on the success level and not on whether it is recognizable to others that it is done for healing. Accordingly, the law by a Lachash:Kemia is stricter than that of a regular treatment. However, according to the explanation of the Levushei Serud it ends up that the law by a Lachash:Kemia is less strict than that of a regular treatment, as by a regular treatment, according to all it must work, while by a Lachash according to some it is valid even if it is not proven to work. The Levushei Serud ibid explains the reason for this leniency by a Lachash:Kemia is because everyone knows that some Lachashim:Kemias work, and thus unless one knows for certain that it does not work it does not contain Darkei Emori. One must thus conclude that even according to Admur, Segula treatments must be known to work, as rules the Levushei Serud, and in addition it must be recognizable to all.
 Opinion in Admur and Michaber ibid; Rabbeinu Yonah in Shaareiy Teshuvah 3:104, brought in Ran ibid; Chavos Yair 234
 Admur ibid
 Shach 179:1 based on Piskei Terumos Hadeshen 96 regarding sorcerers; Chavos Yair 234 “If it works through Segula it is valid, while if it works through celestial powers it is invalid”; Michaber 155:2 regarding getting treatment which the doctor explicitly connects with idolatry, such as to say “Drink the water that belongs to this deity”
 Kapos Temarim Yuma 83a; Chavos Yair ibid Aruch Hashulchan 301:80; Minchas Yitzchak 6:80
 Poskim ibid
 Koseim is defined as telling the future, or making a diagnosis, based an action that is done to an item, such as one who holds his stick and says “Should I go or should I not go?” [Sifri and Rashi on Shoftim 18] Alternatively, it is done through doing an action that allows one’s mind to clear up and then predict or diagnose.” [Rambam Avodas Kochavim 11:6; Tur 179; Chinuch 510
 Nichush is defined as basing a decision on a disconnected occurrence. [See Michaber 179:3-4]
 Michaber 179:1 regarding asking questions to star gazers, or lottery; Rama ibid regarding Kosmim, Minachshim, Mechashfim; Michaber 179:3-4 regarding diagnosis and making future decisions based on actions that have no logical connection.
 The questions raised regarding these treatments, aside for the requirement of clearance of all the other issues mentioned, is whether it works supernaturally, and whether a diagnosis is included in the prohibition, or perhaps only telling the future. [See Or Liyisrael 38:31; Paameiy Yaakov 68; Kuntrus Al Tifnu]
 Minchas Yitzchak ibid based on Chavos Yair ibid, however in truth the Chavos Yair never negates the treatments because of it being unknown if they are sourced in sorcery, but rather because of it being unknown if it works. If, however, it is proven to work then seemingly the Chavos Yair himself would agree that it is permitted even if its source is not known if it came from Segula or from sorcerers. Vetzaruch Iyun on Minchas Yitzchak ibid
 Binyan Tziyon 1:67; See also Tzemach Tzedek 38 who permitted a Segula treatment on Shabbos without discussing that perhaps it comes from idolatry.
 Admur 301:27 regarding a Kemia Mumche “A person does not become a Mumche until he heals three people with three letters”; Tzemach Tzedek 38 “Since the person stated that he has healed three people through the treatment he is therefore believed, and possibly this applies even if he was not successful a few times”
 Tzemach Tzedek 38 “As a person is believed to state that he is a Mumche”
 Chavos Yair 234; Minchas Yitzchak 6:80