He can make you forget your name, or think his belt is a snake. Would you want to be onstage with this man? 

 

1. What exactly is hypnosis?

It’s a natural state of mind people go into every day without knowing it. Ever have that friend who’s in the middle of texting and you say, “What’s up?” and they look up and say, “Huh?” That’s a light form of hypnosis — they’re so focused on their phone, everything around them becomes a blur. Another example: Did you ever walk somewhere and you don’t remember how you got there, or you drove right past your house? Guess what, that’s also a light hypnosis. The hypnosis I do onstage is deeper. I get you so focused on me, everything around you becomes a blur. A person in hypnosis looks like he’s asleep — loose, limp, and relaxed. Picture a wet towel that just flops to the floor, that’s how you feel — complete relaxation of mind and body. And it feels good! You know when you’re freezing and then you step into a hot pool, that ahh…mmhhm melting feeling? That’s how you feel under hypnosis.

 

2.How does hypnosis work?

Hypnosis is the power of suggestion — under hypnosis a person is at least 200 times more suggestible than normal, and the way it works is we bypass the conscious mind and speak directly to the unconscious or subconscious part of the mind. Your subconscious mind has things it knows automatically, that’s what we call “knowns.” For example, a known in everyone’s mind is their name. Under hypnosis, I can change that “known” from David to Jenny Lancelot the Third. But one thing hypnosis is not is mind control — it’s just direct and powerful suggestion, which is why focus, imagination, and letting go of control make someone very hypnotizable.

 

3.How did you get started?

I’ve been doing kids’ magic shows since I was a teen in Brooklyn. Someone once called me to do a sheva brachot. I said I don’t do adult magic shows but he said come anyway. So I did, but no one was interested, and I realized I needed entertainment for adults. Magic for adults means bigger tricks — I was just a young teen back then, I didn’t have a car or the money for that, so I started looking into other options and found hypnosis. Now I learn full-time in Midrash Shmuel, and on the side I do shows for yeshivot, corporate events, private parties, and tours across Israel and in the US.

 

4. What’s your favorite trick?

What you can do is limited only by your imagination. I’ve done anything from making people forget their name to making them think a belt is a snake to taking away their belly button. If I have to choose, my most impressive hypnotic suggestion is when I have people eat raw onions, thinking they’re eating a sweet apple or a sufganiah if it’s a Chanukah show. Seeing someone eating an onion onstage with no tears or disgust is such a clear reminder for me of how powerful the mind is, and how true the saying “mind over matter” is.

 

5.What kinds of reactions do you get?

Laughter, of course — that’s what I love most about what I do! It’s also cool to show people what the mind can do if you believe in something so strongly — you can get to the point where you can change reality. The best is when the people onstage react with full emotion — whether they laugh till they cry, or in some cases how they get upset or even angry that their belly button is gone. At the end of every show, I give the people onstage a minute to pick something they want to improve — either academically or to have more self-esteem or to accomplish a goal — and I let them become the hypnotist by giving themselves the suggestion. It’s like a mini hypnotherapy session.

 

6. Have you gotten criticized that what you do is mean, irresponsible, or dangerous?

Oh, boy, do I. I always ask them one thing: Did it make you laugh? They say yes, and I say that’s what I’m hired to do! In all seriousness, I never do anything harmful to my subjects. If anything, they learn firsthand that if they want, they can accomplish their goals, they’ve just got to set their minds to it.

 

7. Does hypnosis ever not work?

Yeah. Getting the people onstage into the hypnotic state is actually the toughest part — I’m checking who went under and who isn’t there yet, making sure each person is guided into the hypnotic trance and stays there, and keeping the crowd entertained. I remember one show where no one got hypnotized. I tried again, and nothing. I told the audience, “I’m sorry, for some reason it’s not working.” One man came over to me and said in a loud voice, “Now I believe in hypnosis.” I stared at him, totally confused, and he explained: “At first I thought you paid these people, or you have actors, or even onstage you tell them to act it out, but now that the show didn’t happen, I know you were really going to go up there and hypnotize people — no actors, no stooges!” Even failure has a silver lining.

 

8. Are there any halachic implications?

A lot of yeshivah guys have asked if I can help them with waking up in the morning for Shacharit. I can, and once we got into a discussion of whether it interferes with free will and would one get sechar for waking up. We discussed it with a rabbi, and he came to the conclusion that it’s the same as setting an alarm or asking someone to wake you, just not with a physical force.

 

9. Do you ever use hypnosis in real life?

Of course, that’s how I got married! Now that we got the joke out of the way... I use it on myself at times to relax. I’ve also helped friends and family get over bad habits like nail-biting, overeating, and smoking, and get rid of fears, of things like heights and spiders. I don’t have a hypnotherapy degree, so I only do it for phobias and bad habits, not for traumas, and only for family and friends.

 

10. Any near fiascoes?

Once a group of teens from South Africa was on tour in Israel. In my shows, I make someone a Martian who only speaks Martianese, and another guy onstage is a translator. Seeing them just talking back and forth in Martianese is funny. In this case, the Martian didn’t always understand what the translator said, so when I was done with the skit, I told the translator to tell the Martian to go to sleep, but for some reason the Martian didn’t understand! I told the Martian to sleep again, but he still didn’t understand. I stared into his eyes to get his attention, and I said in a really loud voice, “You will understand and listen to me… sleep,” and he was out like a light. At the end of the day, his subconscious understands English, so I knew if I got his focus, it would work, even though it didn’t go as expected! (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 711)