Hebrew Exorcism Ritual Found

The Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, reports the discovery of a short and rather old Hebrew exorcism ritual among some 19th century collections of antiquities.  It’s pretty clearly designed to banish a nefesh, the soul of a dead person, who is obsessing a living person.  It’s specifically designed for a widow haunted by her dead husband.

“We got a bit excited because we realized that people have collected lots of dybbuk stories, but our fragment describes a real event, where you see how they come together and pray in order to exorcise the ghost from a widow,” Smithuis said.

The prayer makes a number of things clear. At the time of the exorcism, Qamar bat Rahmah is married to Joseph Moses ben Sarah and is bothered by the spirit of her late former husband, Nissim ben Bonia, and the
“control that it has over her.” The prayer is respectful to ben Bonia’s spirit and asks that when it leaves his widow’s body, it “shall go and reunite with his [vital] soul, his spirit and his [rational] soul in the place which is appropriate for them.”

The vital soul is the nefesh, the rational soul the ruach.

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