Q. Is it wrong to read the Harry Potter books given that they are about witchcraft and wizardry?
A. Most people would say they are harmless fun and I even hear of Jewish parodies about “Chayyim Po-tter” (“po-tter” could be taken as a Hebrew verb meaning to excuse or acquit). But anyone who takes the subject too seriously needs to be reminded of Biblical verses (e.g. Ex. 22:17 and Deut. 18:9-12) that categorically forbid becoming involved in witchcraft, divination, sorcery or wizardry.
The problem is with a mindset that seeks to utilise unseen energies and forces in the world to achieve aims that are otherwise beyond the boundaries of what is realistic and rational.
As far as Judaism is concerned, God has placed Adam (i.e. each of us) in a world which we can exploit and control for purposes approved by Him and making use of methods which He has sanctioned. To go outside this agenda is to bring ourselves into psychological and spiritual danger and to shunt God Himself aside.
True, some people, even rabbis, resort to so-called magic tricks, but though the audience gasps in amazement everybody knows that this is not real magic but a harmless game. So we each have to decide whether to take up the same attitude towards Harry Potter and say it is entertainment and nothing else, or whether to think that there really is something in it. If the latter, we could be putting ourselves at risk.