Oddly, the 50 dappim (2-sided pages) I’m learning this summer for my test are chock-full of demon stories. Some of them I’ve met in the past, some are new. Here’s some wacky stuff from Brachot 6a about how to enlighten oneself about the presence of demons in one’s life:

It has been taught: Abba Benjamin says, If the eye had the power to see them, no creature could endure the demons. Abaye says: They are more numerous than we are and they surround us like the ridge round a field. R. Huna says: Every one among us has a thousand on his left hand and ten thousand on his right hand. Raba says: The crushing [sensation one feels when sitting] in lectures comes from them [ie, from the demons pressing in.] Fatigue in the knees comes from them. The wearing out of the clothes of the scholars is due to their rubbing against them. The bruising of the feet comes from them. If one wants to know about them [ie to have a concrete awareness of demon-presence], let him take sifted ashes and sprinkle around his bed, and in the morning he will see something like the footprints of a rooster. If one wishes to see them, let him take the after-birth of a black she-cat, the offspring of a black she-cat, the first-born of a first-born, let him roast it in fire and grind it to powder, and then let him put some into his eye, and he will see them. Let him also pour [this placenta ash] into an iron tube and seal it with an iron signet that they [the demons] should not steal it from him. Let him also close his mouth, lest he come to harm. R. Bibi b. Abaye did so, saw them and came to harm. The scholars, however, prayed for him and he recovered.

Rashi’s comment on the placenta-in-the-eye thing is hilarious: “He should put only a very small amount in his eye.” You can just picture him sitting with the text, saying to to it, “Oh, don’t do THAT. Really–I don’t think that’s an especially good idea.”

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