Ruach Ra’ah

Ruach Ra’ah:[1]

One of the more common supernatural dangers is a danger due to reasons of Ruach Ra’ah, or the evil spirit. The concept of Ruach Ra’ah is mentioned in many areas of the Talmud[2] and Poskim[3], and is the source behind many of the supernatural dangers found in Jewish literature.

What is Ruach Ra’ah: The concept of Ruach Ra’ah refers to the evil soul of a demon or demon like figure.[4] So, one who has been taken over by a Ruach Ra’ah means that he has been taken over by a demon like figure, which causes him to lose his mind.[5] [This is similar to the concept of a Dybbuk which we are familiar with.]

Its level of danger: Having a Ruach Ra’ah enter a person is considered a dangerous condition for which one may Daven for such a person on Shabbos.[6] However, it is not necessarily considered a danger for which one can desecrate Shabbos on its behalf, and hence one may not transgress even a Rabbinical prohibition on its behalf.[7] Some Poskim[8] rule that although a person will not be actually harmed if he transgresses one of the Ruach Ra’ah dangers on mere occasion, if he does so often, he will certainly be harmed.

Must one even today guard the dangers of Ruach Ra’ah? Some Poskim[9] rule that one no longer needs to beware of dangers that are due to Ruach Ra’ah.[10] Practically, however, the Poskim[11] negate this opinion and so is the custom. [As for those sources which negate the concept of Ruach Ra’ah today, most can be explained to refer to specific types of Ruach Ra’ah, while other types exist even today. Accordingly, some Talmudic warnings due to Ruach Ra’ah are indeed omitted from the Poskim and no longer need to be followed, while others exist even today and must be guarded, as stated in the Poskim.[12]]


[1] See Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] Mavo 7

[2] Taanis 22b; 20b; Chulin 105b; 107b regarding Shibsa; Rosh Hashanah 28a.

[3] All Poskim throughout this Sefer who mention the concept of Ruach Ra’ah, including: See Admur 4; 328:41; 405:5; Michaber 405:5

[4] Rashi Taanis ibid; See Hisorerus Teshuvah 1:120; See Meiri Sanhedrin 96 that the entire concept of demons is fiction. However, see Shut Radbaz 3:407; Nishmas Chaim Mamar Shelishis 12-13; Taamei Haminhagim  Likkutim 74; Otzer Yad Hachaim 868-899; Pardes Yosef Vayikra 17:7

[5] Admur 405:5; Michaber 405:5; Mishneh Eruvim 41b; See also Michaber 288:9

[6] Michaber 288:9; Beis Yosef Y.D. 228 in name of Rashba; See however Keren Ledavid O.C. 1; Omitted from Admur ibid

[7] See Admur 328:41 “However, it is forbidden to spray milk on one who is blown with a Ruach Ra’ah as it is not a danger, and also not a great pain to permit even a Rabbinical prohibition.”; Rama 328:35; Minchas Pitim 328; Piskeiy Teshuvah 251

[8] Makor Chaim of Chavos Yair 4:3

[9] Magen Avraham Orach Chaim 173:1 regarding meat and fish that “it is possible that today there is no longer much danger involved in the above as we see that are a number of matters mentioned in the Talmud which were forbidden due to danger of the “evil spirit” and other matters and today they cause no damage.”; Hagahos Mordechai Miseches Shabbos Perek Hamotzi that the Talmudic danger of eating peeled garlic, onions, and eggs, no longer applies today; Rashal in Yam Shel Shlomo Chulin 88 that the Ruchos which the Talmudic sages warned about are no longer around today [however, concludes that all dangers due to sorcery must be followed]; Elya Raba 1:4 in name of Rashal; Machatzis Hashekel 4:1 in name of Rashal; Mahram Chaviv Yuma 44ba; Lechem Mishnah in his explanation of Rambam Hilchos Shevisas Asor 3:2; Tevuos Shur 6:14 that for this reason the Rambam omitted all of the Talmudic dangers of Ruach Ra’ah; Malbim in Artzos Hachaim 4:4 in great length that Rambam holds there is no Ruach Ra’ah today; Makor Chaim 4:3 that today people don’t get damaged by the Ruach Ra’ah being that together with the Yeridas Hadoros of Kedusha is also Yeridas Hadoros of Kelipa; See Admur 328:41 and Rama 328:35 that Ruach Ra’ah is not a danger or great pain; See Tosafus Chulin 107b; Yuma 77b that Shibsa is no longer around today; Abayey in Pesachim 112b that he banished all the Mazikin; Rav Poalim 2 Kuntrus Yesharim 9

[10] The reason: Some Poskim rule that today there is no more Ruach Raah and hence one is not required to wash his hands three times in the morning. [Poskim ibid]

[11] Setimas Kol Haposkim and Shulchan Aruch Michaber and Admur who bring many laws of Ruach Ra’ah dangers; Shvus Yaakov 3:70; Chasam Sofer Y.D. 101; Maharam Shick Y.D. 244; See Admur Shemiras Guf Vinefesh Kuntrus Achron 1 that possibly Abayey’s banishing was counterproductive and now we need to be even more careful.

[12] See Kaf Hachaim Y.D. 116:44

Was this article helpful?

Related Articles

Leave A Comment?

You must be logged in to post a comment.