If I work as an energy healing (Reiki) practitioner, may I work on women?
As a health practitioner, one may work on and touch women, as well as work on gentiles including gentile women. One may also receive treatment from a female practitioner, as is the case with any other health treatment. However, one must avoid any issues of Yichud, by either having another man/child in the room with him, leaving the door slightly open, or if it is accepted in the office for other workers to enter the room without prior announcement.
However, Poskim question whether male health practitioners may engage in massaging females, as it involves excessive touch and isn’t usually a medical necessity. Since Reiki need not be performed via touch, one should avoid touching unless absolutely necessary.
More importantly, regarding such treatments, one must be very careful before getting involved in them since there is a strong concern that these treatments involve very severe prohibitions of idolatry, witchery, etc.
Chants are generally forbidden and often proves that it is sourced in idolatry. It would be impossible to give a clear guideline on which treatment is forbidden or not, since a lot depends on the practitioner himself and every situation has its variants, details and more.
In general, the Rebbe discouraged use of such methods to be healed, in the Rebbe’s words, “With regard to your question about using the services of Mrs. … who heals without using any healing remedies at all: Inasmuch as “Torah has granted permission for the healer to heal,” I don’t understand why one should pursue unfathomable paths.” (Igros Kodesh, Vol. VII, p. 303).
(See also Igros Kodesh vil. XVIII p. 17: “why is he seeking out new methods and new matters when we have the paved path of Torah and mitzvos” ).
Specifically regarding Reiki, it appears that the source is from spiritual energies, powers, so called gods, etc. and the name is referring to spiritual powers etc.
The idea of such treatments and remedies is a topic of much Halachic debate amongst contemporary Halachic authorities, and many details still remain unclear. Here are a few guidelines about alternative therapies, remedies and the like, which will hopefully be helpful:
1. It is hard to give an answer regarding these treatments, because every type of such treatment uses a different approach, and treatments change drastically by the way they are done, who does it, and the like.
2. Many Halachic authorities have proven that the source of such treatments is from idolatry, and the so called ‘general energy’ that is transmitted and utilized is founded in idolatry. This would be a great setback to going ahead with such treatments. Regardless of the Halachic position, it would be highly inappropriate.
3. If the ‘master’ who gives the treatment connects to a spiritual power or believes that there is a spiritual power which answers his questions, it would definitely be prohibited.
4. Furthermore, if it is an accepted thing in society that such treatment is sourced in a spiritual energy, this too would be prohibited.
5. Even if it is accepted that the treatment is merely based on nature whether scientific or unscientific, and both the doctor and patient believe this is the case – which, in fact, is usually what is assumed with some exceptions – such a treatment should still not be used for looking into the future, or to make future plans based on such knowledge.
6. Being that the use of some treatment is still up for Halachic debate, with some Halachic authorities prohibiting it, and it might involve serious prohibitions associated with idolatry and the like, they should not be used even in the above cases unless it is needed for a medical purpose.
7. Although some hold that any treatment that cannot be explained is prohibited, the general Halachic consensus is that even something which cannot be explained is permitted, fitting with the above conditions, that it is done for medical purpose (including stress relief) and not for other purposes.
8. If the treatment is a natural remedy but just does not have a logical explanation, it can be compared to many natural remedies which we use without question. However, if the remedy includes things that are solely in a manner of Segulah, it most probably is not based on nature but on other foundations.
9. The mainstream and general approach to such treatments are that they do not actually do what they claim to do, and are not helpful as they are assumed to be.
10. The Torah approach is, that health issues are to be given to doctors to deal with using the regular scientific methods, not new revolutionary methods.
Thus, I would strongly advise not to get involved in such practices.
לגבי נשים וכו’ לכ’ אין בזה חשש ע”ד שאר רפואות המובא בש”ך יו”ד סי’ קצ”ה ס”ק כ’, כרתי ופלתי סי’ הנ”ל ס”ק ו’ וכו’. ומ״מ לכמה דעות, ל״ש בעבידתי׳ טריד רק ברפואה ממש, ולא במיחוש בעלמא, ורק כשאא״פ באו״א כלל, אפילו בתשלום. ועו״כ כמה גדרים אחרים בכ״ז – ראה שו״ת באר משה קנב. טהרת הבית ב רכב. ו ראה גם בס׳ גן נעול – יסודות בצניעות ע׳ לו ואילך.
לגבי רפואת גויים לכ’ הוי ג”כ ככל רפואה שמותר בשכר משום איבה בגמ’ ע”ז וביו”ד סי’ קנ”ד וקנ”ח (אבל בש”ך בהל’ מילה [רס”ג ס”ק ח’] והל’ גרים [רס”ח ס”ק י”ט] משמע ששכר בלחודה מהני וצ”ע בתוס’ ד”ה ולאפוקי שמציין אליו) וראה עוד קצת קולא בחתם סופר שו”ת יו”ד סי’ קל”א.
ולהעיר מאדה”ז סי’ ש”א סעי’ ל”ב שנאמן על עצמו שמומחה בקמיעות.
ומתשובת צ”צ או”ח סי’ ל”ח.