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Awake and aware following the surgery, the good woman seemed somewhat taken aback at her remarkable progress. Understanding where she was coming from, I tried to shed some light on the situation by explaining that “the well-intentioned palm reader of long ago couldn’t know your heart would stop beating because doctors would hook you up to a heart machine that took over for the duration of the surgery…” My intent was for her to stop focusing on “the end of the line” and to begin to live the rest of her life with optimism and gratitude.

Complications set in not long thereafter and the young man’s prediction proved to be right on the mark. Today’s visionaries are, to the best of my knowledge, more vigilant in not spelling things out. As our Sages advise “Al tiftach peh leSatan” – do not open the mouth to the Satan. It is best for all of us to abstain from making predictions, let alone the professed wise individuals who ought to know better than to disclose potentially damaging information.

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I know of a mother who started seeing a popular mekubal who she hoped would assure her that her older single daughter’s zivug was around the corner. He did assure her each time she went to see him that she needn’t worry; her daughter would find her bashert and would get married. Almost four years later the girl finally got engaged. When the mekubal congratulated the overjoyed mom, he told her, “Imagine if I had told you when you first came to see me that you have a wait of close to four years…”

The only way to assure the authenticity of a mekubal and the like is to make serious inquiries. Set your mind at ease by seeking references from people you trust. And even then, one shouldn’t bank on black and white answers and magical solutions. Even the most bona fide soothsayer can only enlighten one to the degree granted him from Above.

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