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Judaism and Spirits of Evil


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#1 PFN

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 03:09 PM

Obviously, Judaism does not place Satan on such a pedestal as Christianity. But what about evil spirits? What is the Orthodox teaching concerning them? What about exorcism?
Do exorcisms still happen within Judaism today?

#2 israeli4ever

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 03:34 PM

Obviously, Judaism does not place Satan on such a pedestal as Christianity. But what about evil spirits? What is the Orthodox teaching concerning them? What about exorcism?
Do exorcisms still happen within Judaism today?

AFAIK such type of "spirits" DO exist, in various forms, i dont know the Chrisitian view of 'evil spirits' but obviously in Judaism, they are subservient to God.

"Exorcisms" i guess the closest thing we have to that would be "dybbuk" which is a soul that invades a persons body. the last one of these that was verified was before WWII, and we are told that they will not occur again until the "End of Days".


Im sure people here can clarify with some actual information...


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Posted 09 March 2011 - 03:43 PM

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#4 warren

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 03:50 PM

AFAIK such type of "spirits" DO exist, in various forms, i dont know the Chrisitian view of 'evil spirits' but obviously in Judaism, they are subservient to God.

"Exorcisms" i guess the closest thing we have to that would be "dybbuk" which is a soul that invades a persons body. the last one of these that was verified was before WWII, and we are told that they will not occur again until the "End of Days".


Im sure people here can clarify with some actual information...

When you say one was verified, is that actual information? If not, I do hope someone else has some.

Obviously, Judaism does not place Satan on such a pedestal as Christianity. But what about evil spirits? What is the Orthodox teaching concerning them? What about exorcism?
Do exorcisms still happen within Judaism today?

I'd expect that if evil spirits exist, they could get their own pedestals if they feel the need.
Poe's law: without a clear indication of the author's intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between sincere extremism and an exaggerated parody of extremism

If not now, when? Because I have lunch plans.

Purple is indeed very important

The Uncertainty Principle. It proves we can't ever really know... what's going on. So it shouldn't bother you. Not being able to figure anything out. Although you will be responsible for this on the mid-term. - "A Serious Man"

#5 israeli4ever

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 03:50 PM

When you say one was verified, is that actual information? If not, I do hope someone else has some.

That is the very well known Dybbuk that the Chofetz Chaim dealt with, and it is spoken about by R Elchonon Wasserman (so i am told, i havent seen it inside, I will try to find the written source)
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#6 Shemmy

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 03:53 PM

Obviously, Judaism does not place Satan on such a pedestal as Christianity.


Generally speaking, that would be correct. However, some bits of Qabbalistic lore do treat Sammael (i.e. the Angel of Death/Satan) the same as Christianity does.

But what about evil spirits? What is the Orthodox teaching concerning them? What about exorcism? Do exorcisms still happen within Judaism today?



AFAIK such type of "spirits" DO exist, in various forms, i dont know the Chrisitian view of 'evil spirits' but obviously in Judaism, they are subservient to God. "Exorcisms" i guess the closest thing we have to that would be "dybbuk" which is a soul that invades a persons body. the last one of these that was verified was before WWII, and we are told that they will not occur again until the "End of Days".



There is no singular Orthodox beleif regarding "evil spirits." You will find sages who believe they exist in a literal sense, and treat them in a manner similar to djinn in Islam (excepting that I have yet to come across anything what would parallel Sammael with Iblis). On the other hand, sages such as R. Se'adia Gaon and Maimonides do not believe that said beings have a literal existence (and I believe they hold the same view with regards to angels as well).

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#7 Moshi

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 03:57 PM

this is a really interesting book


Dybbuks and Jewish Women in Social History, Mysticism and Folklore

Product Description
How and why a person comes to be possessed by a dybbuk (the possession of a living body by the soul of a deceased person), and what consequences ensue from such possession, form the subject of this book. While possession by a dybbuk may have been understood as punishment for a terrible sin, it may also be seen as a mechanism used by desperate individuals often women who had no other means of escape from the demands and expectations of an all-encompassing patriarchal social order. Dybbuks and Jewish Women examines these and other aspects of dybbuk possession from historical and phenomenological perspectives, with particular attention to the gender significance of the subject.

http://www.amazon.co...99703327&sr=8-7


the review says the the dybbuk experience originated in XVI century. There was no dybbuk until then?
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#8 Guest_Indigo_*

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 04:03 PM

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#9 TimeRebbe

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 04:14 PM

so people with a dibbuk were actually schizophrenic?
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#10 warren

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 04:34 PM

so people with a dibbuk were actually schizophrenic?

Since none of the allegedly possessed (as far as I've heard, not even contemporary ones) have had a psychological evaluation, it's a possibility. Another is that some may have been faking.
Poe's law: without a clear indication of the author's intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between sincere extremism and an exaggerated parody of extremism

If not now, when? Because I have lunch plans.

Purple is indeed very important

The Uncertainty Principle. It proves we can't ever really know... what's going on. So it shouldn't bother you. Not being able to figure anything out. Although you will be responsible for this on the mid-term. - "A Serious Man"

#11 Moshi

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 04:36 PM

so people with a dibbuk were actually schizophrenic?


or "hysterical". in a clinical sense. this sort of belief is widespread the world over in cultures that truly believe in this sort of thing (so none in the current frum culture), in each place with its own local twist.
The L-rd may not come when you call, but He's always on time. -Lemon Andersen

Kabel et ha-emet mi-mi she-omro.

"All is by the hand of Heaven, except colds and fevers" -Ketubot 30a.

~My Blog~

#12 Guest_Indigo_*

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 04:37 PM

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#13 Guest_miri_*

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 05:22 PM

or "hysterical". in a clinical sense. this sort of belief is widespread the world over in cultures that truly believe in this sort of thing (so none in the current frum culture), in each place with its own local twist.


Yes, the book makes that point that it's cross cultural, and also that cross culturally it was generally disenfranchised and fringe women who were accused of being possessed.

Yup, sounds about right. I'm sure we all know by now that 'hysteria' has roots in [insert old language] for 'woman.'

#14 warren

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 05:34 PM

I found an article in "Women, gender, religion: a reader" By Elizabeth Anne Castelli, Rosamond C. Rodman, the article is "The Woman Who Wanted to Be Her Father: A Case Analysis of Dybbuk-Possession in a Hassidic Community" by Yoram Bilu (1985) which I found interesting.
Poe's law: without a clear indication of the author's intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between sincere extremism and an exaggerated parody of extremism

If not now, when? Because I have lunch plans.

Purple is indeed very important

The Uncertainty Principle. It proves we can't ever really know... what's going on. So it shouldn't bother you. Not being able to figure anything out. Although you will be responsible for this on the mid-term. - "A Serious Man"

#15 PFN

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 06:02 PM

So for Judaism, there are no spiritual enemies? Do most of the Orthodox feel that spirit possession is mental illness? Are these spirits always departed human souls? Is there and weight placed on the Book of Enoch and it's assertion that demons are the souls of the giants destroyed in the flood?

#16 warren

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 06:09 PM

So for Judaism, there are no spiritual enemies? Do most of the Orthodox feel that spirit possession is mental illness? Are these spirits always departed human souls? Is there and weight placed on the Book of Enoch and it's assertion that demons are the souls of the giants destroyed in the flood?

The Book of Enoch is not part of the Jewish canon.
Poe's law: without a clear indication of the author's intent, it is difficult or impossible to tell the difference between sincere extremism and an exaggerated parody of extremism

If not now, when? Because I have lunch plans.

Purple is indeed very important

The Uncertainty Principle. It proves we can't ever really know... what's going on. So it shouldn't bother you. Not being able to figure anything out. Although you will be responsible for this on the mid-term. - "A Serious Man"

#17 rvn2590

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 08:09 PM

AFAIK such type of "spirits" DO exist, in various forms, i dont know the Chrisitian view of 'evil spirits' but obviously in Judaism, they are subservient to God.

"Exorcisms" i guess the closest thing we have to that would be "dybbuk" which is a soul that invades a persons body. the last one of these that was verified was before WWII, and we are told that they will not occur again until the "End of Days".


Im sure people here can clarify with some actual information...



There was a reported exorcism in the 1960's by a Sephardi kabbalist rabbi in Israel in the 1960's. I don't know the details.
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#18 PFN

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 08:29 PM

So it sounds that exorcism within Judaism is far less frequent than in Christianity.

#19 Shemmy

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 08:55 PM

So for Judaism, there are no spiritual enemies? Do most of the Orthodox feel that spirit possession is mental illness? Are these spirits always departed human souls? Is there and weight placed on the Book of Enoch and it's assertion that demons are the souls of the giants destroyed in the flood?


You need to stop acting as if Orhodoxy is homogenous. There is really only a small core of tenets required for the label of "Orthodox" to be applied. Outside of those, there can be quite a bit of theological leeway.

The Book of Enoch is not part of the Jewish canon.


While that is true, many of the ideas are paralleled in later Qabbalistic liturature.

So it sounds that exorcism within Judaism is far less frequent than in Christianity.


Christianity at large, or Catholocism/Orthodoxy in general?

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#20 rvn2590

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Posted 09 March 2011 - 10:25 PM

So for Judaism, there are no spiritual enemies? Do most of the Orthodox feel that spirit possession is mental illness? Are these spirits always departed human souls? Is there and weight placed on the Book of Enoch and it's assertion that demons are the souls of the giants destroyed in the flood?


There is a belief in Judaism that every good deed a person does creates an advocate (angel) and every bad deed creates an demon. Based on the weight of a person's deeds, a person may be carrying around a lot of "baggage" or a collection of angels. Some say this once was in the old days when open miracles were more frequent but not in our day when things occur according to nature. Same say these sources which suggest such things are not literal but just using symbolic language. As Shemmy has correctly pointed out, there are multiple opinions on angels and demons. I personally believe that there are such spiritual influences as angels and demons. We emphasize very strongly in Judaism that Satan and any evil spirits are on a leash with G-d in charge. They have no independent power that has not been assigned to them by G-d for His purposes. In more ancient Jewish writings there are lots and lots of references to these spiritual forces while contemporary rabbinical writings/discussions references to them are much more rare. Every Jewish male prays every day at night the hashkivenu prayer. We pray that G-d "remove Satan from before us and behind us". Of course as mentioned, some interpret this not literally but some do. In the morning every Jew prays to not let the evil inclination (which is called Satan in some sources) dominate us. So references to such forces are found quite often, and found in our daily prayers we recite.
טובה הארץ מאד מאד

Rav Tal "The evil forces of the world are the leftists who act against sanctity."




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