Rabbi Lawrence Keleman in his book Permission to Receive states that Egyptian magicians today (or when the study it was based on was published in 1960) do a similar stick-snake trick as in the Book of Exodus. Is this true?

A quote from the book is:

D.P. Mannix writes that modern Egyptians have preserved some of those "secret arts" and still practice the "snake as stiff as a rod" trick.

Mannix, D. P. "Magic Unmasked." Holiday, November 1960.

  • 4
    Are you asking if there are illusionists who appear to turn sticks into snakes, or are you asking only about 'real' magic? Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 21:46
  • @DJClayworth That's actually a good question. I suppose the short answer is that I'm asking what Mannix was actually observing. (Now, the apparent purpose of Keleman referencing the Egyptian's "secret arts" was to validate the Bible, and the Bible itself puts it as though it was real magic, so Keleman might indirectly imply that they do real magic. If what Mannix saw was not true magic, that would answer my question. I personally do not believe in magic at all, but I'm asking to examine what Keleman is saying.)
    – Uncle
    Commented Jan 1, 2014 at 20:24
  • 1
    It appears the D.P Mannix article was from the November 1960 issue of "Holiday", which merged with Travel to form Travel Holiday in 1977. This might help somebody track down the "Magic Unmasked" article. This is the closest I've gotten. It's on page 32.
    – user5582
    Commented Jan 1, 2014 at 23:36

1 Answer 1


Brian Brushwood (a magician and skeptic) says:

magic only exists in a willful contract between the person that wants to be fooled and the magician who says, "I'm now going to fool you". (SGU episode 205)

James Randi (also a magician and skeptic) says:

magicians are the most honest people in the world; they tell you they're gonna fool you, and then they do it. (An Honest Liar: The James Randi Story (Trailer))

If these people are self-identifying as magicians, then they are saying: "I'm now going to fool you."

There are many variants and related tricks involving changing one thing into another thing or making something appear where it previously wasn't:

Additionally, Lawrence Keleman doesn't claim that "Egyptian magicians today turn sticks into snakes". The exact quote from Permission to Receive is:

D.P. Mannix writes that modern Egyptians have preserved some of those "secret arts," and still practice the "snake as stiff as a rod" trick.

  • 7
    I don't think Randi or Brushwood is a reliably source for the extend to which magicians in Egypt announce the fact that they are only performing a trick. Or for that matter that a typical Egyptian audience expects then to do so.
    – Christian
    Commented Jan 1, 2014 at 14:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .