Sanhedrin, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Eleven



Mishnah eleven deals with different forms of sorcery.


Mishnah Eleven

1)                     A sorcerer, if he actually performs magic, is liable [to death], but not if he merely creates illusions.  

a)                                           Rabbi Akiva says in Rabbi Joshua’s name: “If two are gathering cucumbers [by magic] one may be punished and the other exempt:  he who really gathers them is punished: while he who produces an illusion is exempt.”



When the mishnah stated that a sorcerer is liable to be stoned, it meant one who actually performs magic, but not one who creates illusions.  [Therefore, modern magicians who use illusions are not obligated for the death penalty].  Rabbi Akiva in the name of Rabbi Joshua illustrates this principle by mentioning a form of magic that must have been at least somewhat known in the time of the mishnah, something like pulling a rabbit out of a hat in our days.