Matisyahu’s ‘Possession’ role is a ‘Dybbuk’ throwback


The dybbuk returns to theaters August 31.

Back when Matisyahu had a beard, he took a supporting role in “The Possession,” directed by Spiderman director Sam Raimi. The film is centered around a dybbuk, or a demon-like character that possesses a human being.

Dybbuk exorcisms have been reported by JTA before, one as recent as 1955:

In a ceremony reminiscent of European ghetto life, the Belser Rebbe drove a dybbuk (evil spirit) out of the body of a young woman here today. The woman, mother of four children and a recent immigrant from Turkey, came to the Rebbe after consulting with a Turkish rabbi in Israel and Israeli physicians. The doctors found that she was suffering from "nervous disturbances."

The Belser Rebbe commanded the dybbuk to leave. He employed a Yiddish formula. However, the rites were translated into Turkish since it was assumed that a dybbuk in a Turkish woman would not understand Yiddish commands.

The dybbuk, of course, first became famous as a play and had several “reincarnations” thereafter, including a black and white film and an opera by Gershwin.

The original production, performed by Moscow’s Habimah theater troupe, opened to rave reviews.

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