Who is the devil in Jewish tradition? How does possession work? Is there a way to get rid of it? What are the differences with Catholic doctrine? And what does the Talmud say about it? How did you get the translation into Italian? These and other questions ZENIT has addressed to Riccardo Di Segni, Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Rome. Following the interview.
Rav Di Segni, what is the figure of dibbùk, a sort of demon in Jewish culture?
Dibbùk means “adhesion” that is something (one or more spirits) that attaches to you. It is a theme present in the Jewish tradition in a very long history, which every so often re-emerges like a karst river with new aspects and new interpretations. In fact it is a marginal element that does not worry too much. The particular term (dibbùk) and the theme of possession are used above all in mystical history, in particular since the seventeenth century, to indicate the penetration in the person by a not necessarily evil spirit, which interferes with his behavior.
In addition to the marginality of this theme (there is not even any priestly investiture to play the role of exorcist), we must clarify that there is another fundamental difference with Catholicism. In Judaism when it comes to possession, the landowner is not necessarily the devil, or a devil, he could also be the soul of a deceased, which Catholic theology strongly rejects.
The Jewish interpretation of the phenomenon can be very different, but the semiotics of possession and the technique for the liberation of people from evil spirits present many similarities and similarities with Christian forms.
In my speech at the Pontifical University Regina Apostolorum I made a historical excursus to explain how this theme has developed in the Hebrew tradition from the times of the Bible up to the present day.
Are there any wicked historical personalities possessed?
They are rather foreign interpretations of Judaism.
What does he tell us about angels?
Angels in general are spiritual creatures that are sent to perform certain missions. An angelology has developed in certain fringes of Judaism with names, bad angels and good angels or at least agents that do harmful actions. But one thing is to recognize that there are angels and spirits and another is that they enter the body. In Judaism, the angelology and the demonology that even exist, even if in a marginal way, do not necessarily involve possession.