A dybbuk, an evil spirit, clings to a man who is struggling to walk.

Jewish Word // Dybbuk

A Ghost from Our Past by Sala Levin Fans of the film-making, Minnesota-bred brothers Joel and Ethan Coen were transported back to the old country in the opening scene of the 2009 film A Serious Man. A couple—clad in full shtetl garb—is visited by a man believed to be dead. The woman declares him a dybbuk, a figure unfamiliar to most 21st-century filmgoers, but one quite at home in the horror movies it predates. The word dybbuk is a Yiddishized adaptation of the Hebrew root davek, meaning to cling or to cleave, and the basis of the contemporary Hebrew word for glue. The term first appears in Genesis, where it’s written that a man will “leave his father and his mother and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall be as one flesh.” Dvekut, in kabbalistic thought, is “a kind of ecstatic state...

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