Do Jews Believe in Demons?

Though the idea of demons raises concerns about divine providence, belief in demons developed among some Jews throughout history.

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From the Kabbalah

The Kabbalah has a vast demonology of its own. The demonic powers constitute an unholy parody of the sacred realms against which they are in constant battle.In a very revealing illustration, the Zohar compares the "Other Side," the domain of the evil powers, to a vicious dog held by its owner on a long lead. The dog, though it appears to enjoy independent power, is pulled back whenever it is in danger of getting out of control.

Under the influence of the Kabbalah, especially, belief in the existence of demons became widespread. Although there is no official Jewish rite of exorcism, there are numerous tales of saintly men exorcising demons from houses and persons.

Belief in demons is thus generally present but very peripheral in the Jewish scheme. No representative thinker, for instance, ever thought of dubbing Ibn Ezra a heretic because he refused to believe in demons. Needless to say, sophisticated Jewish thinkers who did believe in the existence of demons did not think of these as little devils with forked tails breathing fire but as spiritual forces which God has unleashed in the world for purposes of His own, or as harmful psychological processes which take place in the human mind.

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Rabbi Louis Jacobs

Rabbi Dr. Louis Jacobs (1920-2006) was a Masorti rabbi, the first leader of Masorti Judaism (also known as Conservative Judaism) in the United Kingdom, and a leading writer and thinker on Judaism.