Dybbuk Legend

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 86
Occupation: Retired Psychiatrist
Residence: San Francisco/Bay Area
Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Type: Legend

  1. “The ‘dybbuk’ is a part of Jewish folklore, that appears in the Talmud and the Old Testament. The dybbuk was also the subject of a recent theatrical play. It was very common in older generations, like my parents and their parents. The dybbuk is an evil spirit. It enters living people and takes their soul. He talks for them, acts for them, and assumes their identity. The dybbuk is detailed in all kinds of Jewish literature and folklore. It appears all over the place. I don’t believe it in of course!”
  2. I obtained this piece of folklore from my grandfather Don. Don was born in 1932, and his whole life has been very active in the Jewish community. Don has also been actively Jewish his whole life, and cares deeply about his faith. He heard this piece of folklore from both his parents and different Jewish texts that he came across in his lifetime. To him, it does not mean much, but he is interested in its reoccurrence throughout Jewish literature. The dybbuk is never featured in the bible, but starting in the 16th century, the legend started to appear in texts of Rabbi’s.
  3. In the bible/Torah, there is a notable amount of mythical creatures. However, the legends behind these creatures rarely have left the Torah. According to my grandfather, the dybbuk was popular among older generations (during the late 1800’s, early 1900’s), and circled around the European Jewish communities. My grandfather’s parents were from Poland, and I have no doubt the legend was popular in other European countries.
  4. I have never heard of this legend. From my understanding, the writings about the evil spirit originated in Europe and I do not think it spread to other countries, or maybe it did but it took a different form. I am also a bit surprised that this type of legend exists within Jewish communities, as Hell is not believed in the Jewish faith, or the devil.

 

For more about the dybbuk, go to http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/dibbuk-dybbuk