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Horror Stories of Applied Kinesiology by R. Yair Hoffman

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for the Five Towns Jewish Times

“I am sorry, Mrs. Ploni, but the muscle testing we performed on you indicates that your compatibility with your spouse is a 1 out of a possible 10 on the scale.”

“Your son being around his father is bad for his energy levels. You should seek to minimize it.”

“Your husband was born normal, but something happened to his energy levels on account of the vaccinations he received as a child. It is not really his fault, but he is not good for you.”

Welcome to the world of Applied Kinesiology or health Kinesiology and the way that it is practiced in, yes, some of our own communities.

The world of alternative medicine is not the innocuous and harmless pursuit that people may think it is. It is often used by practitioners in bizarre ways in which control and authority are exercised over other people. Incredibly, there are people who now base most of their life decisions on something called “muscle testing.”

Practitioners believe or state that the body’s energy levels can reveal remarkable information, from when a bride should get married to whether the next Kinesiology appointment should be in one week or two weeks. Prices for a 45 minute appointment can range from $125 to $250 a session.

One doctor who is familiar with people who engage in such pursuits remarked, “You have no idea how many inroads this craziness has made in our community.”


According to the Gale Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine, AK (applied kinesiology) is system that evaluates structural, chemical, and mental aspects of health by using “manual muscle testing (MMT)” along with other conventional diagnostic methods. The belief of AK adherents is that every organ dysfunction is accompanied by a weakness in a specific corresponding muscle,] Treatments include joint manipulation and mobilization, myofascial, cranial and meridian therapies, clinical nutrition, and dietary counseling.

A manual muscle test is conducted by having the patient resist using the target muscle or muscle group while the practitioner applies force the other way. A smooth response is called a “strong muscle” and a response that was not appropriate is called a “weak response.”

Like some Ouiji board out of the 1970’s, Applied Kinesiology is used to ask “Yes or No” questions about issues ranging from what type of Parnassa courses one should be taking, to what Torah music tapes one should listen to, to whether a therapist is worthwhile to see or not.

“They take everything with such seriousness – they look at it as if it is Torah from Sinai,” remarked one person familiar with such patients.

One spouse of an Applied Kinesiology patient was shocked to hear that a diagnosis was made concerning himself through the muscle testing of his wife – without the practitioner having ever met him!

Practitioners of Applied Kinesiology may be Jewish or gentile, they are still seen by adherents. Indeed, one gentile practitioner makes it a practice to travel to Israel and visit graves of righteous Rabbis. He stated that he travelled to “37 graves in Israel and gets energy from them.”

And the lines at the office of the AK practitioner are long. One husband holds a crying baby for three hours, while his wife attends a 45 minute session. Why so long? The AK practitioner let other patients ahead – because of emergency needs.


The whole concept brings up a number of halachic issues. Is recommending someone to see an Applied Kinesiology practitioner a violation of the Torah prohibition of Lifnei Iver, putting a stumbling block before the blind? Is it a violation of darchei emori?

One type of Lifnei Iver is giving a person an eitza sh’aina hogenes – misleading advice. Three such examples are found in the Toras Kohanim and they clearly indicate that AK is a direct violation of Lifnei Iver:

1] To advise a person to leave at a dangerously early time in the morning, when thieves are more likely to victimize him (Kedoshim Parsha 2).

2] To advise him to go out in the hottest of noon so that he will get a sunstroke.

3] To advise him to sell his field in order to purchase a donkey, and then by trickery purchasing his field from him in exchange for a donkey.

It is this author’s conclusion that in light of countless studies showing the ineffective nature of this therapy, the practitioners of AK are unequivocally violating Lifnei Iver Lo Sitain Michshol (see the author’s own Sefer on Lifnei Iver entitled Misguiding the Perplexed with haskamos from the leading gedolim).

Rabbi Yitzchok Stein, a Posaik, the Foltichander Rav Shlita and the Rosh Beis Din Avnei Shaish in his Kuntrus al Tifnu writes that there are violations of other biblical prohibitions. He was also the Rosh Beis Din of Dayan Yechezkel Roth, Karlsburger Rav, for thirty years.

In conversation with this author, Rav Stein related that Dayan Roth ruled in two handwritten letters that it is absolutely forbidden even in cases of Pikuach Nefesh. He also stated that Dayan Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss from the Eida Chareidis has stated that it is entirely forbidden. He was recently misquoted saying that he had rescinded his ruling. To address this Rav Weiss signed it again writing on the 24th of Shvat 5777 (this past year), “Haiisur adayin betokfo – the prohibition remains intact.”

Rav Stein further stated in regard to Applied Kinesiology:

“There is an issur of Kosem kessem. Why is it kosem kessem because the Rishonim write that any action that works in a manner that is not bederech hateva that reveals hidden things. Some wanted to say that it is only forbidden if it reveals the future, but the Rishonim indicate that it is any revelation that is not done through teva – natural means.

There is an asseh of tamim tihiyeh im hashem elokecha. There is a lav of ubechukosaim lo saylaichu and this is darkei emori. If the practitioner is a gentile there is also a question of being nisrapeh from a gentile who is a min.”

It is clear that anyone who is concerned for observing the Torah must stay far far away from this.”

The author can be reached at [email protected]

21 Responses

  1. Thank you Rabbi Hoffman these Kinesiology people are total wachos i know a women in lakewood with many children who left her husband because her Kinesiology practitioner told her he is giving her bad energy we have to quash this out fast before it takes root like the anti vax wachos

  2. eric55: Name calling does nothing to strengthen your argument. In fact, it weakens it significantly. Let’s suggest instead that people apply their seichel and more importantly perhaps, the seichel of their Torah leaders to their individual situations.

    For every anecdote against kinesiology, there are anecdotes in favor. I believe one of the root issues here is that we try to proceed on evidence better than the anecdotal.

    There’s another fundamental issue that seems to be working it’s way out somewhat in these discussions, which is, what is legitimate healing? There seems to be a variety of opinions from reputable authorities. No surprise there. Keep calm everyone and refer halachic questions to your LOR.

  3. Our community tends to patronize a whole gamut of these “alternative” therapies. The mentality is much the same as the thirst for “segulos”, many of which are fabrications, others that are simply not applicable.

    There is a Ramban (Torah Ho’odom – Bava Kamma) that specifically addresses the responsibility of a health practitioner, as requiring appropriate training that is based on recognized fact (a.k.a. scientific study). Unfortunately, way too many of these approaches of alternative therapies lack any scientific study. They can be performed without regard to license – the states do not recognize them as professional services. Just consider that having a hair salon requires a license, but alternative therapies do not. Tells us something about whether these are recognized.

    The only issue I have with this post is that it lists only applied kinesiology. There are numerous others which deserve the same limelight, and exposure as dangerous frauds. The Rav will hopefully address these in future posts.

  4. ywcomment2 looks like your a Kinesiology wacho. No, it doesnt weaken my argument calling Kinesiology wachos its just stating the facts if someone said licking your cars exhaust pipe will cure cancer you would agree we can call him a wacho and not reason with him well my friend theres no difference between Kinesiology and exhaust pipe licking people

  5. Rabbi Blumenkranz z’l in his Pesach guide had lots of articles not directly related to Pesach. He initially loved certain of these alternative remedies, such as homeopathy, but then, in agreement with the above article, discussed how many of them are borderline avodah zarah.

    Unfortunately, many ethnic communities seem to be vulnerable to health charlatans, especially those with a high immigrant population, those that have not been well-integrated into American life, and those with poor education. The chasidish and similar communities seem to fit the pattern to a T. Also, yidden generally are always looking for something different, which explains high rates of assimilation, kids trying to learn about Buddhism etc instead of Torah, and so on.

  6. I personally know cases of people who were helped by Health Kinesiology when medical doctors gave up. I know of many marriages saved. A tutor in Lakewood just told me that he has been working with kids for 25 years and in the last 5 years there are cases of kids with learning disabilities that he was totally unable to help but after voing to Health Kinesiology sessions for a few months these boys are in the top of their class and some have gone to very high level mesivtas. I can go on with tremendous success stories.

  7. they claim that this is teva but nobody but them know these remedies as far as avoda zuru as long as the practitioner does not claim avoide zuru helps him its not avoide zuru somebody asked the satmar rebe about a healer in brazil (he was written up in reader digest)and he said that as long as he does not invoke religion its okay. by the way i dont believe in their garbage.

  8. Judaism is unique in that it is the only faith that depends on rigorous proof for every area of belief. The essence of Judaism, which naturally includes the rejection of avodah zarah, is not to believe anything which does not have solid proof. Unfortunately many do not understand this and are receiving their onesh in olam hazeh in the form of AK. The first mikdash was destroyed because of avodah zarah and the case can be made that it is not being rebuilt at least in part for that reason even today. Just a few examples. Many refuse to consider religion because they believe it is superstitious nonsense and unfortunately there is some truth to it. Too many Jews think that belief without reason is an ideal. Many do not pray directly to hashem or practice magic in the “kosher” form of segulot. We should be a “wise nation.” Blind faith is dangerous. We should ask about every belief we have “how do I know it’s true?”

  9. People naturally trust scientists (even when they are clearly biased or just wrong!) because they generally have strong proofs and claim to only care about the truth. If most Jews had a similar belief system, in which we can justify every belief, maybe more Jews would be religious.

  10. This is another thought and article that the author ” the Rabbi” should keep his comments close to his vest.
    We are all tired of hearing these
    “Opinions “. WE are tired of hearing these
    Far “encounter with the third kind” so-called
    Halachic issues.

  11. I had MRSA, I was suffering. The doctors in Lakewood kept in giving me antibiotics sometimes it helped a little I would soak myself all the time I was in a lot of pain. In too of it I had a family of 7 kids to run and they began getting it. I went to every doctor in Lakewood there advice was ” the CDC says….take bleach baths a few times a week” so I did it didn’t help but that was all the lakewood docs could tell me. I called a Yiddish doctor referral agency and asked them to please recommend the best infectious disease specialist I will pay whatever it costs…. So the specialist told me ….nothing to do except ” the CDC says to take bleach baths”
    I saw conventional medicine was not helping. So I went to a kineseologist,
    Yes he was a little weird but he put me on a diet and on detox supplements and he did kinesiology corrections. Lemayseh the MRSA began coming less often and less intense and after about 1 and a half months i stopped getting MRSA.
    Call it whatever you want! Call it kishuf of you want, but to say it’s only placebo is incorrect. It worked on me where doctors were stuck. HK works it worked on me and on many others I know

  12. Unfortunately, Lakewood is infested with people (mostly the women) that fall for all this.

    I find that the people who are most prone to these scams are the poorly educated. the more farchyokt and naive the more Pesi Yaamen they are.

    It’s typical, the people who fall for all sorts of money scams, pyramid schemes Etc… are the ones to fall for this.

  13. Rabbi Hofman, lately a Rabbi Szmerla published a book by the name Alternative Medicine (it has many approbations). He totally destroys the arguments of the kuntres Al Tifnu, and shows that almost all of the arguments are based wrong yesodos, וניכרים דברי אמת.
    Now even though I don’t believe much in alternative medicine, but it still makes a big difference if the torah deems it a forbidden practice or not. To bring the arguments against it with out mentioning the counter arguments is not right. (I would be surprised if you didn’t see the book i mentioned).
    Though I agree that there might be a problem of lifnei eveir, (due to the fact I mentioned before that I don’t believe much in these things). 

  14. I believe that the root of the problem is that we in the Charedi community have declared war against the scientific establishment. Many feel that our beliefs are challenged by scientific consensus (evolution, zoological facts that are inconsistent with the Talmud) and they feel that our only recourse is to denounce the scientists as charlatans. Although throughout the generation Torah Jewry deferred to medical establishment in all areas regarding health (even when it was contradicted by the Talmud), people who are inculcated with doctrines that preach to them that the scientists are purposely misleading them regarding the origins of the universe don’t see why they should trust the medical establishment any more. If they need to belief in conspiracy theories regarding the above (“the scientist believe in evolution in order to excuse their aveiros…”) why shouldn’t they believe the kinesiologists who claim that the medical establishment is conspiring with the pharmaceutical companies.
    The solution may be to stop demonizing the scientific community with silly conspiracy theories. If someone feels that his belief is challenged by the theory of evolution, he has among others the following two choices:
    1. Apparently nature seems to give the impression to scientists that it evolved over time, but perhaps this is part of God’s plan. In other words the science of evolution (or any other scientific theory or fact which runs contrary to our beliefs) is built on solid ground, but perhaps Hashem made it that way. He who created the world created carbon dating.

    2. Just admit that we don’t know the answer. No answer is better than a stupid answer. If I believe Hashem created the world but don’t know why carbon dating makes it appear otherwise, my belief is still on solid ground. Its ok to have an unanswered question. But if my belief in Hashem hinges on a conspiracy theory which dictates that all scientists around the world have come together and conspired to develop the theory of evolution in order to allow themselves to sin, then my belief is only as strong (=weak) as a stupid conspiracy theory.

  15. @thinker123 – “Though I agree that there might be a problem of lifnei eveir, (due to the fact I mentioned before that I don’t believe much in these things).”
    With all due respect, you, or anyone else, agreeing (with some of the greatest poskim in the generation) and based, not on your vast knowledge of Torah, but on the fact you don’t believe in these things is the most precise example/expression of the chutzpah yasgi that will be present at the end of time, and is cause of great sadness, and great simchah. The idea that we all, equally, have the right to not only comment on, but to presume equal (Torah/p’sak) validity of our personal opinions/feelings is outright ludicrous.

  16. The Chazon Ish paskened that actions which do not conform to conventional medical/scientific research, knowledge, protocols, and procedures cannot be defined as hishtadlus and is actually the antithesis of faith-based Yiddishkeit and on the knowledge that ki Ani HaShem rofecha.

  17. @thinker123

    “Szmerla destroys the arguments of the kuntres Al Tifnu, and shows that almost all of the arguments are based wrong yesodos, וניכרים דברי אמת. ”


    How many books do you know that had atleast 6 of it’s haskamos pulled?

    Szmerla’s book is attacked by Rabbonim from the most extreme right to the far left, for what? For lying! And false arguments.

    He builds his halachic conclusion on fake Science and metzious , for example,

    He writes if dowsing were a hoax, it would be asur due to lo sinachshu, and the reason why it’s mutor is due to the fact that dowsing is authentic.

    He lists four poskim that “agree” with him that dowsing is authentic.

    Szmerla worked tirelessly to convince some poskim that dowsing is effective, effectively embarrassing them on something that is עתיד להתגלות that it’s anything but “authentic ”

    Dowsing can’t be replicated by two separate practitioners on a list of allergies, let alone pass a blind study.

    Only a פתי יאמין לכל דבר would go for such arguments.

    The guy tries to make the lame reader beleive that he proved something that he doesn’t, anyone that knows the sugya sees that.

    He quotes new-age missionaries as scientists, then claims to prove something that was established by the science.

    Just google “New Age” and the names of the “scientific authorities” that he quotes.

    Why is it that the only group of Jews, who are supposed to be the עם נבון וחכם, that fall for this garbage, are the ones that are the most “shielded” from outside influences.

    It happens to be that even in China and India, where all of this originates, are moving away from ancient traditional medicine AKA energy based medicine, this is more evident in the larger cities where people are more educated versus the small towns and villages where people are poor and uneducated.

    No wonder why those communities are infested by charlatans of all types, from money scams to health scams.

  18. 1)The fact that many of the Rabbonim who gave haskomos have withdrawn them, and others have forbidden Jews to own this book, and the booksellers from selling this book, is testimony to the fact that even the people who the author thought he had won over to his side, have seen through his lies and ignorance.

    2)Schmerla used to be a practitioner, and his wife too, and still helps people out, but some of the people who gave haskomos did not know this, but though he was an unbiased talmid hochom who had researched the subject. This shows what his true agenda really is!

    3) Sczmerla’s half quotes are deliberately designed to fool the innocent frum Yid into falling for his kefirah. One small example. He writes on page 46 that “Buddhism is not a religion centered on the worship of a god, but a way of life based on the quest for enlightenment through meditation and negation of the self”. He makes it sound so tame. The truth – Buddhism is similar to Taoism and they are both absolute kefirah – the tachlis of which is to have NO god! Indeed, the tachlis of them is for the worshiper to bring himself in his koach hadimyon to the madreigoh of god, and to be god and to control the world through his/her koach hadimyon. Exactly like Paroh said – liy yeori va’ani asisini! Any and every book or article on the subject says what it is. Szmerla and his ilk seem to be the only ones in the world who do not know this.
    4) In every book you pick up on the subject from their circles, prana is a neevad. It is the energy of the sun, not the sun that we know, but the sun that Nimrod was busy worshiping, and prana is worshiped by those Easterners today. In Reiki they intend it to do what they want – ie they channel it and control it. Ascertaining that any nivroh has its own ability to control is kefirah.

    5) In Yaaros Devash droshoh 4 The Rebbe Rav Yonoson writes that the purpose of building the migdal bovel was to connect the Sar Haaretz with the Sar Hashomayim, through their powers of sorcery, so as to unite these two powers, making it very hard to separate them and to break their bond”, and lehavdil elef alfei havdolos Paul Wildish YS in his Book of Chi writes similarly “There is heaven, the yang energizing force which streams from above. There is earth, the receptive, creative, material world below. And there is Man, humanity, designed to be the balancing and integrating factor between heaven and earth. Identical language – integrating the forces of heaven and earth! No New Age- mitechiloh ovdei avodoh zoroh hoyu – they are the old age, we are the new age!

    6) We say the Eibershter is the life force and manhig lchol hebreuim and they say chi is – afra lefumayhu! The healer’s job is to manipulate this energy that emanates from the sun or the earth thereby making the person energy fields properly balanced thereby healing him.

    7) He writes that Rav Belsky misunderstood the procedure of asking permission from the energy before starting a healing session. Nonsense! Rav Belsky read the same sources as anyone else can read. The Health Kinesiology Manual teaches that “before starting to work with the patient’s energy systems one must ask permission of the energy to work with it. They write: What is permission? Conscious permission is the person’s verbal agreement to work with you. Energy permission, even through muscle testing, is the confirmation that the person’s body, mind and energy system is ready, willing and able to work with you. Always obtain both levels of permission to work before you continue with the HK session”. If this is not clear to Szmerla then it shows how little he knew anything about the subject he is writing. But anyone who knows the 13 ikrim, knows that claiming that anything has bechira and can be prayed to, except Hashem apikorsus!

    8) It also shows how little Szmerla understands that he is disagreeing with world class poskim, who he himself quotes. From Rav Belsky at the bottom to the Steipler who unequivocally stated in a printed teshiva that remote healing is kishuf and to the Sefer Hachinuch who describes pendulum or muscle testing as koseim and to the Rambam and the Ramban and most rishonim who describe koseim practices the way Szmerla does but with the bottom line being that it is osur as opposed to Szmerla who, as per the training of his guru and shaman rebeim, claims it is absolutely mutar! This is what a 21st century meisis umediach looks like.

    8) On page 63 he compares muscle testing responses in the practitioner’s koach hadimyon and koseim, to the lie detector, which is detecting PHYSICAL changes in the body, not imaginary changes in the person’s imagined energy fields, detectable only to the trained koseim or faker. Rav Belsky explicitly told him not to use that example but he flaunts his words.

    9) Last but not least, the entire concept of energy healing, is based on the belief that all illness emanates from an imbalance in this chi energy that is the life-force of everything live – afra lepumayhu- The Sefer Hachinuch, in mitzva 249 when referring to the prohibition of nichush, says that that one of the reasons for the Torah prohibiting the different types of witchcraft activities, is because a person will come to think that anything good or bad that happens to him are is by chance and not by deliberate individual hashgachah pratis from his creator… Therefore, because Hashem wanted our good, He commanded us to remove from our hearts this thought and to affix in our hearts that anything bad or good come from Hashem’s mouth according to the actions of people whether they are good or they be bad. Saying that this energy thing is the life force is just this denial! Im telchu imi keri…- sublaxations in this energy flow of the suns prana energy, rachmonoh litzlan!
    10) I ask the writer Denala what is worse, having MRSA in this world, and trying other doctors, while bathing in bleach for a couple of weeks, or permanently contaminating her neshomoh with these isurei de-orysa and requiring the neshomoh to be cleansed in the fire and ice of gehinom for who knows how long, rachmonoh litzlan!
    Enough said.

  19. I am an alternative medical practitioner and a learner. It is not true to say that a muscle test is not based on nature, as this is a physiological response that can be explained scientifically. Yes, the practice of the method depends on the practitioner.
    In a different method that I practice, there is guidance regarding certain questions that should not be asked, and further than that, questions that should not be answered do not get an answer in the muscle test. Since the muscle response originates in the body of the receiver (‘the patient’), his body does not allow for a muscle response that should not be revealed – questions that should not get an answer will not be answered. In the method I practice the receiver (‘the patient’) controls the session, and the ‘therapist’ is only an aid for the person to treat and heal himself.
    Further than that, as somebody who studied western medicine as well, western medicine can be dangerous and damaging to the ‘patient’ as well, maybe more so than alternative therapies, including what is described in this article. Yes, it is the responsibility of the ‘therapist’ to practice a method in a proper way. How can it be that a method that is based on natural physiological response is forbidden, while western methods that might be more dangerous are not? We are given a body that we are not meant to damage, this is what I know.

  20. I see we are dealing with a serious therapist, who wants to know the truth about the subject. Your questions are valid, but the problem is that we are not discussing danger. We are discussing “How do we understand the poskim who say that muscle testing is koseim? What is this “innate intelligence” or ‘energy system’ that is answering the question by means of a muscle’s response? As a trained therapist, please tell me how you were taught to ask the body these questions. Are you aware of Jimmy Scott and his theories? What must you be thinking when you ask the questions? How do you understand the concept of a body responding? I would really appreciate your input here. Please respond.

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