Monday, 28 November 2011

“Ibbur: Soul Impregnation” Mini-Series 1

Jow recently made a comment on this blog that made me to take a slightly deeper look in to what an Ibbur is. Whilst ancestor prayer and offerings are not permitted within Judaism, some do perform rituals to attempt to impregnate their souls with a shard of the soul of a righteous person.

This is the first of four brief posts on this topic looking at a variety of sources.

Here is a link to the Wikipedia entry for Ibbur.

Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis in Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic and Mysticism has the following entry to Ibbur:
Ibbur or Devekut: “Impregnation/Cleaving.” These are generic terms for spiritual possession, usually beneficent, but not always. Also called a maggid, it is related to, but not to be confused with dybbuk. An ibbur coexists inside a living body, which already has a resident soul, usually for a short period of time (Sefer ha-Hezyonot 46; Sha'ar ha-Gilgulim). Some souls of righteous saints are able to do this for the benefit of mankind, either to perform a special task through, or to reveal a vital teaching to, the possessed individual. Sometimes the ibbur does on its own initiative, but more often a worthy mystical seeker deliberately induces possession. To achieve this, a period of purification and preparation is necessary. In some ibbur tales, wearing a “sign of the covenant,” such as tefillin, is a prerequisite to such possession. Usually, there is some kind of ecstatic practice involved. Isaac Luria preferred using an incubation ritual. A few Safed mystics wrote down testimonies of their ibbur possessions. It also marked early Chasidism*.
Goldish, “Spirit Possession in Judaism,” 101-19, 257-304, 404
The term “incubation ritual” is not something that I'm familiar with. Fortunately Rabbi Dennis has an entry for this too in his book:
Incubation: The practice of sleeping, usually in a sacred location, in order to induce divinatory or veridical dream, or for the purpose of communing with a numinous entity... In ancient times, Israelites would sleep in the Tabernacle compound in order to experience a dream revelation from God (1 Samuel 3). Zechariah experienced dream visions, but it is unclear whether he elicited them (Zechariah 4). Apparently some Israelites also used incubation for the purposes of necromancy by sleeping on or at graves. The prophet Isaiah roundly condemns this practice (Isaiah 8:19-22, 19:3)... By the high Middle Ages incubation techniques included the previously illicit practice of sleeping on or about the graves of meritorious dead... Preparatory techniques for incubation include fasting and immersion, the recitation of prayers and psalms, summoning angels, and incantations.
Here is a link to Rabbi Dennis' blog on Dybbuks and another link about Reincarnation.

Film about Dybbuk,
Female lead spends a lot of time in her underwear