The Torah forbids any form of magic and it is a very serious sin that deserves capital punishment. According to the Rambam this prohibition applies even to slight of hand since "black magic" or real magic is all fake and the Torah is warning us not to engage in silly practices of slight of hand.
Is it permissible to have a magic show?
- For Sephardim it is forbidden to perform a magic trick even though everyone there knows it is only slight of hand. According to many authorities it is a biblical prohibition. If it is a non-Jewish magician it is permitted to watch. Even Ashkenazim should be strict about this and not have a magic trick show.
- It is permitted to hire a non-Jew to do magic tricks for a wedding or children in the hospital.
- Shemot 22:17
- Rambam Hilchot Avoda Zara 11:9
- Rav Ovadia Yosef in Yabia Omer YD 5:14 writes that according to the Rambam doing a magic trick that is only slight of hand is a biblical prohibition according to the Rambam and Sefer Hachinuch and we follow their opinion. This is also the opinion of Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 179:25. Therefore, it is forbidden even for a mitzvah such as for a wedding or kids in the hospital. Rabbi Mansour agrees.
- Yalkut Yosef YD 179:1
- Rav Willig (min 1)
- Yabia Omer YD 5:14 explains that since hiring a non-Jew is only forbidden by the rabbis it is permitted for a mitzvah. Chazon Ovadia Shabbat v. 3 p. 500 reiterates this ruling. Rabbi Mansour agrees.