Most people usually associate exorcism with the rites seen in the Catholic Church, but how many people are aware that exorcism rites exist also in Jewish tradition? Well, recently in the news once again , a Rabbi Yitzchak Batzri, a telegenic exorcist extraordinaire, recently attempted to exorcize a “dybbuk” – an evil or morally demented spirit that has seized possession of a person. It is also known as “spirit possession.”
According to the news, a Brazilian man claimed that a dybbuk entered him, so he went to Rav Chaim Kanievsky who thought this man was truly possessed.
Reports about the possessed Brazilian man claim that witnesses heard voices emerging from the Brazilian man, even though his lips did not move. The spirit allegedly said, among other things, “The end is close,” and, “I sense many sins,” in a foreign language other than the man’s native tongue, which is the only language he purportedly knows. Curiously, although the man’s lips did not move, noises seemed to emanate out of the man’s stomach—of all places! His wife later said that he had been talking in his sleep as well, in a language other than his native tongue.
The young Brazilian man claimed to have lived during the days of the Second Temple, and called himself Petachyahu the son of Chava. Heaven denied him entry because of several heinous sins that included breaking into a house, murdering the man of the house, raping and murdering his wife, and sacrificing the son to an idol/foreign god.
How strange, last Sunday afternoon I was reading a famous Jewish medieval story to my class at St. Ambrose University that is very reminiscent of this spirit’s evil deeds. The tale reads almost verbatim from a medieval classic text known as the Orhot HaTsadikim (“Pathways of the Righteous”) Chapter 14 on the attribute of “Envy.” The parallels are so striking, if one did not know better, it sounds as if the entire story was scripted—word for word—from this perennial Jewish classic of the 15th century.
There are other aspects of this story that makes one suspicious. According to the evil spirit, he had inhabited the man for seven years, even though his wife claims to have observed her husband acting strangely only over the last three months. Go figure.
I cannot recall the Catholic Church ever producing a live exorcism show made for television. Hollywood films on the other hand—well, they are different. This particular Kabbalist decided that he would videotape the exorcism for television and so he did. To date, nobody knows what happened to the Brazilian man . . . Stay tuned for more!
If the rabbi succeeds, maybe he can do something for the Chicago Cubs as well.
 Aside from the Brazilian story and the shofar blowing ritual that broke the news in recent months, Rabbi Yitzchak Batzri also expressed sorrow that Israelis put out the red carpet for the non-Jewish star who dabbles in Kabbalah, after she arrived in Israel this past summer. Perhaps Rabbi Batzri does not like the Kabbalistic competition.