Self-proclaimed psychokinetic healer Oren Zarif, whose TV appearances have been as frequent as his full-page ads, says it's the subconscious that needs healing in order for the body to get better and boasts a paranormal ability to activate the process in others. Hmmm...
'When people learn how to stop being at war with themselves and to start taking as much pleasure in the small things as possible, there won't be any more disease or misery. Then no one will need Oren Zarif'
'Smoking is a form of meditation. It's a form of relaxation that connects the person to other dimensions. If a person smokes two packs of cigarettes a day, he finishes himself off. But if he smokes five cigarettes a day, the nicotine raises the level of dopamine in his brain, and this is not a bad thing at all'
'I consider virtual entry into someone else's being without his permission to be no different from touching someone against his will. It's like opening someone else's bag to see what he's got in there. Out of politeness and respect,
I never do that'
The entrance to the building that houses Oren Zarif's Jerusalem clinic - one of eight countrywide - is lodged between storefronts on the main drag of the Givat Shaul industrial center. A primitive sign above the shops indicates that "healing through the subconscious" is on the second floor. A poorly lit, rather rundown stairway leads to a hall of offices, among them Zarif's.
Just inside, behind the door, is a TV - with its volume lowered to a hush - showing broadcasts of Zarif performing the "miracles" for which he has become famous, and from which he has become rich. Some of the eight people waiting their turn to be treated are seated and watching the screen. Others are standing and staring at the walls, lined literally from floor to ceiling with framed newspaper clippings about Zarif's exploits.
"He refused to use his supernatural powers for Maccabi Tel Aviv, and his car was vandalized," reads one Ma'ariv headline.
"Police are investigating a suspect: [Zarif] caused the malfunctioning of a traffic light by the power of his mind," announces another, from Yediot Aharonot.
Indeed, whatever else can be said of the 32-year-old - who has been on the local celeb circuit since he was about 10, when he wowed audiences with stunts a la Uri Geller, such as accurately guessing the serial numbers on bills in their wallets - he certainly continues to command mainstream attention. Which isn't so surprising, considering the guy has been filmed driving a motorcycle through the streets of Tel Aviv blindfolded - a feat even serious skeptics haven't figured out how he pulls off.
But it's not only the media that has a penchant for the paranormalist who lives in Ramat Hen with his wife Lilly, eight-year-old daughter Oshrat and five-year-old son Yaniv. People from all walks of life flock to Zarif in droves and pay him to solve their medical and other problems.
True, the sums are not that high when compared with those charged by private physicians or psychiatrists. (A first treatment by Zarif costs NIS 290, and every additional one NIS 240, not including remedial herbs or other aids, e.g. amulets.) But if, as he claims, he sees an average of 400 people every day, it's not hard to understand how he can afford the fancy sports car parked below - in which he shuttles from clinic to clinic, and from hospital to hospital, "visiting and encouraging" the ill and the infirm, whose pain and suffering, he insists, "do him in."
"My calling in life is to help people," asserts Zarif, who is convinced he inherited his powers from his Bukharan great-grandfather, enlightened Torah scholar Rabbi Pinhas Hacohen.
During our 45-minute Hebrew interview - in the only room of the place not occupied by a client - Zarif is summoned several times by his assistant to finish up with this patient or that. (One interrupts us to bid Zarif farewell by thanking him profusely, almost tearfully, for having changed her life.)
It is the end of a grueling workday, Zarif says, apologizing for being in a hurry to get home to his family.
I ask him to conclude by demonstrating his powers in any way he chooses. I am secretly hoping he will reveal some fact about me that he couldn't possibly know, or at least cause the clock on my cellphone to stop. He opts, instead, to give me a three-minute treatment.
He gets up and walks to the back of my chair, places his hands on my head and begins flicking his fingers - an activity healers usually do to shoo away bad energy.
I close my eyes and relax, preparing for my life to be altered for the better, preferably by having a fraction of Zarif's self-healing, if not self-employment, skills rub off on me in some way.
"Whoa," he says ominously, returning to his desk. "You have a strong evil eye on you."
I do? That can't be good, I think, stunned that this is the way he is signing off our interview - especially since he neither suggests that he can cure me of it, nor tells me how to get rid of it by myself.
So much for what he stresses about how crucial it is to be positive where healing is concerned.
Seeing my less-than-thrilled reaction, Zarif hastens to modify his diagnosis. "You'll have a good future," he assures as an afterthought.
Your ads make pretty extreme claims about your having cured a wide range of people.
Yes. I treat people with every possible physiological or psychological ailment. So far, since this morning, I have treated about 400 people, among them cancer patients on the verge of surgery. Some healers tell cancer patients to undergo healing before they have surgery, possibly to prevent it. I don't do that, because the patient's health might then pass the point of no return. I treat people before and after their operations, to strengthen them - to boost them psychologically, spiritually and in terms of their energy - so they can get through the ordeal positively and have a smoother recuperation. Being positive is crucial. My successes on this score have been so great that it's unbelievable and inexplicable.
My calling in life is to help people. It's what I attach the most importance to. I receive lucrative offers every day from large companies throughout the world. When they conflict with my calling, I turn them down.
And you believe this calling was given to you by your great-grandfather?
Yes, Rabbi Pinhas Hacohen, about whom it was said he resurrected the dead. He used to do things no one could explain. Books have been written about this. We know that one day he saw a funeral procession and asked what was going on. They said, "We are on our way to bury this woman in accordance with the Torah."
To which my great-grandfather replied, "That woman isn't dead. Perform a ceremonial drawing of blood and she will rise." And so they did. And so she did.
Another story about him - in Bukhara, where he taught the Torah - was that he was thrown from a high tower and, rather than being crushed from the impact, he landed on his feet and said, "As God has willed it, nothing happened to me."
In other words, there are - and always have been - paranormal phenomena that cannot be explained rationally.
Take the famous case from about a year ago in Israel of an 80-year-old woman who was pronounced dead and spent an entire night in a refrigerator in the morgue prior to burial - and she woke up. This is an example of a phenomenon that cannot be explained. Such phenomena are connected to the powers of our creator. It is beyond nature. It makes me very happy that, finally, this whole realm is being opened up and becoming much more accepted by the mainstream.
It is true that psychokinesis is not an exact science. But, then, neither is conventional medicine. A doctor can charge $100,000 to perform heart surgery, and have the patient die on the operating table; or one doctor gives one diagnosis and another gives another, while a third disagrees with both of them. These are common experiences we've all had. So, while I argue that conventional medicine is constantly progressing and extremely crucial, it is also important to complement it with other forms of healing.
Do you go to the doctor when you're sick?
Absolutely. If I get a fever, I go to the doctor just like everybody else.
So, you don't have any objection to antibiotics, the way many healers do?
No, I have no objection to antibiotics. But I happen to know how to connect to different energetic dimensions. I know how, through the subconscious, to generate activity that overcomes any physiological or psychological problem. That's why I have succeeded in treating hundreds of thousands of people. And my results have been tested by researchers all over the world. I've had cancer patients come to me after being told by their oncologists that they had six months to live, and I looked at them and said that wasn't so. King Solomon said, "Rega be'apo, haim birtzono shel borei olam." [His anger endures but a moment; life results from His favor.]
That is my belief, which is why it upsets me when someone tells me his oncologist told him he'd better get ready to kiss his family good-bye. Who gave that doctor the authority to make such a determination? It's something a patient should never be told. It's not right. I want to tell you that there's no such thing as a terminal illness.
Though everybody dies at one point or another. So you could say that life is a 120-year terminal illness.
Well, then [he smiles], it's preferable that it last at least 119.
Do you perform physical treatments?
No. Only through the mind.
Are your treatments short?
It's on an individual basis. It depends on the person and on the problem.
You said you see about 400 people a day. How do you focus on each individual?
I see the soul of a person before he even opens his mouth.
Describe what you do when a patient walks in to your clinic.
I tell him to concentrate on his problem. Then, I enter his brain and activate his body's ability for self-healing.
Has it ever happened that someone comes to you with a certain problem and you "enter his brain" and see a different problem from the one he believes he has?
Yes, that often happens. It also happens that people come to me with a problematic energy frequency, indicating their treatment will take a very long time, so I do not treat them.
Do you at least recommend they seek other help?
Well, I give them the tools by telling them what they should do to make their situations better.
Does a person have to believe in your powers for them to work on his subconscious?
No. Healing through the subconscious requires activating your own ability for self-healing. It means reaching the right dimension. Most people don't succeed at this, because they don't know how to reach that dimension - as Joseph Murphy points out in his wonderful book, The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, which I highly recommend to everybody.
My method is to use my powers to enter the frequency of a person's thinking, and to give a command to his body to begin the process of self-healing. Recently, I treated a number of hospitalized multiple sclerosis sufferers. They all told the same story about themselves. They all reported on being perfectionists - people who have spent their lives fighting themselves. After I treated their subconscious, they all said there was a significant improvement in their symptoms. The power of the brain works. Influencing the subconscious works. But the body has to know how to activate the mechanism.
If illness comes from within, rather than from without, are you saying, for example, that it is not smoking that causes cancer, but rather that cigarette addicts are people who share a particular internal problem which, if treated by the subconscious method, will get to its root and cure it?
If you're raising the issue of cigarettes, I'd like to take the opportunity to say a few words about them. [Here he points to an open box of cigars on his desk.] You see what I have here? I smoke and write about cigars. About two months ago, I sent a registered letter to the Health Ministry, titled "Alcohol and cigars lengthen life."
People need to make a distinction between doing something pleasurable in moderation and killing themselves through excess. I cut my cigars in half, for example.
Smoking is a form of meditation. It's a form of relaxation that connects the person to other dimensions. If a person smokes two packs of cigarettes a day, he finishes himself off. But if he smokes five cigarettes a day, the nicotine raises the level of dopamine in his brain, and this is not a bad thing at all.
Is this true of food intake as well?
Exactly the same thing. It goes for alcohol, as well. A good glass of wine or a little whiskey - in fact, 50 ml. of whiskey a day is very healthy - is good. Four or five cigarettes a day - excellent. One cigar a day - a blessing and luck and a longer life.
You have to understand one thing: To live a good life, the most important activity one has to learn is how to disengage - how to take a break from thinking, contemplating, and calculating. All day people are at war with themselves. When people learn how to stop being at war with themselves and to start taking as much pleasure in the small things as possible, there won't be any more disease or misery.
Then no one will need Oren Zarif.
Much of what you're saying causes Israelis to flock to India, to meditate in ashrams. What's your view of that?
Most of the Israelis who travel to India return in bad shape. I've come across dozens, if not hundreds, of people who spent time in monasteries. Some returned virtually schizophrenic, after taking [psychedelic] mushrooms and other kinds of drugs. I think that it's nice to visit India. But all of these extended stays with meditation and the like are very unhealthy. We have all the spiritual tools we need right here in Israel. I mean, while we go to India in search of spiritualism, Madonna comes here.
Speaking of Madonna, there are many critics who say that Kabbala can also be dangerous, particularly for those who are not at the right level of enlightenment to begin with, or those who throw themselves into it like a cult.
Again, everything is only good in moderation. The Kabbala has many things one can take and learn how to achieve different dimensions of enlightenment. But, it's like taking a five-year-old to a swimming pool and throwing him right into the deep water, before he can swim on his own. He'll drown. People have to take things in the right proportion and doses; otherwise, they can get hurt.
Are you an observant Jew?
I'm a believer. I was educated with religious values. My parents are observant. I put on tefillin; I keep Shabbat; I pray; I keep kosher - but I go abroad a lot, so I find ways of observing the best I can without being too stringent.
On Yom Kippur, what did you ask God forgiveness for?
I didn't ask for his forgiveness. I asked to have a long life in order to continue helping people; and I asked for there to be an end to illness. I take every sick individual to heart. After I get done with long, hard days of work, I visit hospitals to talk to and encourage sick people. It's really sad to watch people suffering. It does me in. And I try to do the best I can for them.
From what I understand of the spiritual realm, suffering is one way we grow - by overcoming obstacles.
Do you know people who want to grow through suffering?
Most people, in retrospect, claim that suffering caused them to grow.
The people I see in hospitals are climbing the walls from pain and suffering. It's a nightmare.
Do your children also have powers?
I'm beginning to see signs of telepathic abilities in my daughter. But it's too early, and I wouldn't want her to get involved with this yet. She's able to do amazing things. She reminds me of me at her age. My teacher would come into the classroom and say, "Good morning, I have a question about yesterday's material. Whoever knows the answer should raise his hand." I would immediately raise my hand, and she would say, "Oren, I haven't asked the question yet." But I already knew both the question and the answer.
Similar things have begun to happen to my daughter in her school. Unlike my teachers, though, her teacher understands where she gets it from. Her teacher even asked me to stop helping my daughter with her homework, because I used to know what the test questions would be, and that's not helpful for her. So I stopped. As a matter of fact, my daughter called me an hour ago to ask me something about an exam she was having, and I told her she had to study by herself.
Is it true that you once called your wife at home and told her that a pot was boiling over on the stove?
Yes, it's true. I do that kind of thing all the time. For example, a couple of days ago she couldn't find her keys, so she called me and asked me where they were. Right away, I could see where she'd left them.
When she got pregnant, did you know it before she did?
Is it hard for her to live with a person like you?
Not any more. But she has said that it's hard not being able to surprise me. She can't surprise me with a gift, because I know in advance what it is. Her girlfriends say they'd never be able to be married to someone like me, because they could never lie. My wife can't do anything without my knowing about it.
Having telepathy with your wife and children is one thing. But you treat total strangers. How is that possible?
We all have virtual vision through a third eye. Every person is capable of using his intuition. Mine is extremely developed. Since I was a young boy, I have given lectures and performed before audiences. I could tell you what there was in New Zealand or Las Vegas inside some locked safe. It's a question of reaching a state in which you can see a kind of virtual screen that receives information.
Is that why you are able to drive a motorcycle blindfolded?
Yes. When I close my eyes, I can see everything on the road clearly. It's virtual vision.
Don't you receive a lot of criticism from people who think you're some kind of phony or charlatan? Don't people constantly challenge you?
I'll tell you - how did Bar Refaeli put it and everybody attacked her? [He is referring to the interview the supermodel gave to Yediot Aharonot earlier this month, in which she said that the Israeli public and paparazzi are too aggressive.]
Well, I understand her and identify with what she goes through. I know what it's like going to a mall and suddenly having 250 people jump out at me, and then photographers suddenly appearing and driving me crazy. That's Israel. I just returned from London. There, everything flows the way it should. People might wave or something, but there's none of this crowding you and asking you to do things for them. Here, people come up to me and say, "My sister's pregnant. What will be?" or "What's with my sick aunt?"
It's unbelievable the liberties Israelis take. Now, I was born in Israel, and I love my fellow Israelis. Nobody is higher or lower than anybody else, as far as I'm concerned. But behavior here often gets out of hand.
When you walk through malls, are you able to "see the souls" of the hundreds of people who you claim jump out at you?
Entering into the mind of another person is an invasion of his privacy. I consider virtual entry into someone else's being without his permission to be no different from touching someone against his will. It's like opening someone else's bag to see what he's got in there. Out of politeness and respect, I never do that.
So, you close yourself off to it?
Yes. When I was a boy, I was so curious all the time about everything and everybody that I didn't close myself off. But I can tell you that what goes on in people's minds isn't all that interesting, so it doesn't really matter.
If you were in a room full of deaf-mutes signing among themselves, would you be able to understand what they were saying?
Everything. Because I can read their minds and understand what's going on in their souls.
Are you saying that telepathy is like a language?
It is indeed a language. It is written that the great rabbis of yore would consult with one another in the language of telepathy. And there were no phones in those days.
The brain works through special waves that enable us to see, hear and understand. Among most people, this ability is not developed.
When you were young, did you use your telepathic powers to get girls?
Look, it was always easy for me to hit on women by virtue of my celebrity. I didn't really need to use my powers for that.
Isn't it everybody's fantasy to be able to cause a member of the opposite sex to reciprocate? Do people ever come to you for this purpose?
Oh yes, every day. But I prefer not to deal with such things. The only exception is when a person is suffering really badly from [unrequited love]. For example, a woman with children whose husband left her for one reason or another - if, after looking into it, I reach the conclusion that my help is crucial, I'll make a connection between her and her husband.
What's the strangest request you've received?
To provide the winning Lotto numbers. I had a show on [the radio station] Radius, and a man by the name of Moshe Harush came to the studio. The day before, there had been articles about him in the press about how he was in such terrible financial straits that his refrigerator was totally empty. I put him on the air, and gave him the numbers that enabled him to win sums of money week after week for two months. Though this is something I normally don't do - because it's not the kind of thing one should use powers for - I consulted with spiritual leaders, who said that in this case it would be a mitzva.
How long do your short treatments last? If someone comes to you to treat anxiety, for example, and leaves your office feeling better, would he still feel the effects a month later?
Yes, because I connect him to other dimensions of energy, and neutralize the frequency in which the anxiety exists, making it gone forever. I've had Knesset members, ministers, judges, etc. come to me for such problems.
Speaking of which, are you also a political fortune-teller? Can you predict the outcomes of elections?
I don't get into that. I could do it, but I prefer not to. In the past, I used to do that on TV, and everything I predicted came true. What I said about Avigdor Lieberman and Amir Peretz materialized exactly as I had said it would. Shas flew me over the country (it's easier to reach more people when flying over them) to connect to the minds of voters, and they garnered 17 mandates. Though I'm apolitical, when I encounter a party whose calling is to help people for the good of the majority, I help it.
And that's something you determine through your third eye, or your affiliations as a voter?
I see spiritual aspects of these things that regular mortals can't see.
"Regular mortals" need seven or eight hours of sleep a night. How many hours do you sleep?
Two and a half. I don't need more than that.
Do you remember your dreams? Do they contain what you consider to be messages?
Yes, and I wake up and know exactly what I'm supposed to do that day.
Do you also use astrology and tarot cards?
What's your opinion of healers who do?
I don't express opinions on things I don't know enough about.
What about the weather? Can you predict earthquakes, for example?
Yes. And my predictions, all of which came true, have been written about in the papers. I have also helped the Shin Bet and the police. I work with all the security forces.
Did you serve in the IDF?
This is an extremely delicate subject, because I help the IDF in cases I'm not allowed to discuss. I can only say that the service I have done for the army and the state goes beyond what many actual soldiers do during their military service.
So why don't you enter into Hamas leader Ismayil Haniyeh's or Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah's minds, and get them to bring about the release of kidnapped soldiers Gilad Schalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev?
To achieve a goal like that, I have to be located in a certain area. In fact, I did give information that led to the capture of [escaped serial rapist] Benny Sela. With regard to the abducted soldiers, I would need the proper tools. But I believe that negotiations about them are soon to bear fruit.
Are you ever unable to connect to the mind of a person who seeks your help? Can you talk about any of your failures?
I prefer to discuss my successes. Because, while my failures can be counted on four fingers of one hand, my successes are endless.
Since you appear on TV regularly, and see hundreds upon hundreds of people every week, why do you spend so much money on advertising? Why do you need that particular form of exposure?
My diary is so full that there are some people who have to wait a year and a half to get an appointment with me, particularly those who treatments are more long-term. Most have to wait about two months. So it's not that I need to advertise. The reason I do it is because I am thrilled by each success and want it on record.
But with all those ads, aren't you misleading people who don't realize how long they have to wait before getting an appointment?
The fact that they even have something to wait for and look forward to gives them hope.
Finally, why - if each of us has a subconscious, and each of us is created in God's image - can't we all read minds the way you claim to be able to?
God created each of us differently: One is more talented than another; one more good-looking than another. Even among great rabbis, it is known that the blessing of one is worth more than that of another.
I do not deal with the how and the why. I received special powers about which I can explain very little. But I just finished a 480-page book called Hakoah Mehamoah - Gam Ata Yachol [Brain Power - You Can Too], which I have dedicated to [theoretical physicist] Stephen Hawking, a man of enormous dimensions.