Does the Torah prohibit belief in “ghosts”?

We have a whole series debunking the belief in the devil,  fallen angels, demonic spirits—yes, despite the teaching of Paul of Tarsus and their existence, prominence and predominance in the life of the Christian Savior Jesus in-the-flesh in the gospels and the resurrected triumphant Jesus in battle with Satan in the last book of Revelation.


Now we are tackling the belief in “ghosts” or the spirits of the dead coming back to earth to appear to the living.


Image from

Image from

Besides talk about women in white showing up in certain ‘haunted places’ because they supposedly died in an accident or were murdered, there are the ‘haunted houses’ where spooks ‘show up’ as see-through whitish shapes on camera.  Our devout Mormon friend who attends erev Shabbat with us  repeatedly recounts how, while driving at dusk, she saw a woman in white floating with feet in white socks hardly touching the ground.  Why should she see something like that, she asks?


She also believes in the account of her Spanish friends, two sisters, one of whom was hospitalized.   The other sister came to visit and while approaching her sister’s room, she met an elderly couple walking out of the adjacent room and recognized the female as the patient occupying it for the time she had been previously visiting her sister.  When the nurse came to administer medication to her sister, she remarked that the neighboring patient seemed to have fully recovered and had left the hospital with her husband.  The puzzled nurse corrected her saying that the woman had died in the night and that her husband had been long dead.


She also believes the story relayed by the children of another friend that the daughter who had been taking care of the mother ‘saw’ the spirit of her long-dead father picking up the spirit of her mother while she was dying.  When I clarified this story with the brother, all he said was the sister recounted that the mother in her last moments before dying was pleading to their father to pick her up because she was ready to join him.


At our Torah discussion about the non-existence of devils and ghosts where we share similar stories that have been passed around among the superstitious,  including Christians (because the New Testament scriptures do mention them), our Mormon friend continues to challenge us to explain the strange encounters people have had with what they believe are spirits of the dead.


Without casting doubt as to the reality of these experiences, our standard answer is:


What would YHWH’s  purpose  be

for allowing the living to witness

the reappearance of dead people

either as seemingly in-the-flesh or as spectres?


Think about it, why would the God of Israel who gives specific commands against superstitious beliefs allow any of us to see the dead . . . ?  And why do they appear only to some people and not to all?


Let us recall Isaiah 8:20


To the law and to the testimony! if they speak not according to this word, surely there is no morning for them.



What does YHWH, the Revelator on Sinai  and Law-Giver say?


6 And the person who turns-his-face to ghosts or to familiar-spirits, to whore after them,
 I will direct my face against that person 
and will cut him off from amid his kinspeople! [Leviticus 20:6]



The context of this, strangely, is a whole series of prohibitions relating to dishonoring parents, adultery, homosexuality, incest or sexual relations among kin, child sacrifice, and bestiality.  The Law-Giver would not be so specific in His prohibitions if these were not rampant practices normal to the conduct of the ‘nations’ or the ‘gentiles’ among whom Israel had lived or had been exposed to.  Israelites most likely were just as guilty,  for ALL humanity at that time were still ignorant of what is RIGHT and WRONG in the eyes of the Creator God of the universe who sets the STANDARD of conduct for all people.  In His wisdom, His strategy was to start with His chosen nation to be His model for the whole world.  His guidelines for living are enshrined in the Torah.


Here’s the chapter to study for this:







Reader Comments

Join the Conversation...

− 3 = 1