In my new book, Finders Demonologist Luke Melloy has to deal with lots of different kinds of nasty spirits from all different religions. One of these meddlesome spirits is called a Dybbuk.
According to Jewish folklore, a dybbuk is a ghost or disturbed soul that possesses the body of a living being. In early biblical and Talmudic accounts they are called "ruchim," which means "spirits" in Hebrew. During the 16th century, spirits became known as "dybbuks," which means "clinging spirit" in Yiddish.
There are numerous stories about dybbuks in Jewish folklore, each with its own take on the characteristics of a dybbuk. As a result, the specifics of what a dybbuk is, or how the spirit is created vary.
What Is a Dybbuk?
A dybbuk is a disembodied spirit. It is the soul of someone who has died but is unable to move on for one of many reasons. For those who believe in an afterlife in the form of heaven and hell, the dybbuk is a sinner who is seeking refuge from afterlife punishment.
In a variation on this theme, the dybbuk is a soul suffering from "karet," meaning the soul has been cut off from God because of evil deeds the person did during their life. Other tales portray dybbuks as spirits that have unfinished business among the living.
Many stories about dybbuks maintain spirits exist inside living bodies. The people most often portrayed as being susceptible to possession by the dybbuk are women and those living in homes with neglected mezuzot. Neglected mezuzah as an indication that the people in the home are not very spiritual.
How to Get Rid of a Dybbuk
There are probably as many different ways to exorcise a dybbuk as there are stories about them.
Often the first step in the exorcism is interviewing the dybbuk. The purpose of this is to determine why the spirit has not moved on. This information will help the person performing the ritual to convince the dybbuk to leave. It is also important to discover the dybbuk's name because, according to Jewish folklore, knowing the name of an otherworldly being allows a knowledgeable person to command it. In many stories, dybbuks are more than happy to share their woes with anyone who will listen.
After the interview, the steps in exorcising a dybbuk vary greatly. According to author Howard Chajes, a combination of adjurations and various props are common. For instance, the exorcist may hold an empty flask and a white candle. He will then recite a formulaic adjuration commanding the spirit to reveal its name (if it hasn't done so already). A second adjuration commands the dybbuk to leave the person and fill the flask, after that the flask will glow red.
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