Transmigrated souls. "Dibbuḳ" (lit. "something that cleaves unto something else") is a colloquial equivalent, common among the superstitious Jews in eastern European countries, for a migrant soul. It represents the latest phase in the development of the belief in the transmigration of souls; namely, that the soul of a man who has lived a wicked life will enter the body of a living person and refuse to leave it. The exorciser, in such a case a "ba'al shem," or a wonder-working rabbi, is aloneable to cast out this evil spirit, which usually goes out through the small toe, where a little orifice from which blood oozes marks the exact point of its exit. Full descriptions of such successful acts of exorcism, where, however, the dibbuḳ is still called by its older name "ruaḥ," are given in Manasseh b. Israel's "Nishmat Ḥayyim" (part iii., ch. 14; part iv., ch. 20). Another detailed description of a similar incident is reproduced in "Ha-Shaḥar" (vi. 459, 697) from Moses Prager's (Graf) "Zera' Ḳodesh" (Fürth, 1696), and is curious from the fact that R. David Oppenheim, the celebrated book-collector, who was then rabbi of Nikolsburg, Moravia, is one of the signatories to the narrative.
The first who wrote of the dibbuḳ under that name in modern Hebrew literature was P. Ruderman, but his "Ha-Dibbuḳ," of which the German title is "Uebersicht über die Idee der Seelenwanderung" (Warsaw, 1878), is of little value. The most interesting part of the book is the description of one of the dibbuḳim, which, according to his statement, were very common in Poland in those days. It proves that the manifestations of the dibbuḳ, and the belief in the power of practical cabalists to exorcise it, have undergone little change in the two centuries which have elapsed since the Nikolsburg incident referred to above. Dr. S. Rubin, in his "Gilgul Neshamot," the German title of which is "Die Metempsychose in Mythus und Kultur Aller Völker" (Cracow, 1898), points out the connection between the ancient belief in the transmigration of souls and in possession by evil spirits, and that in the dibbuḳim of modern times. He says at the end of his work (p. 29) that the belief in the wanderings of the soul "has come down to our time among the ẓaddikim and saints of the Ḥasidim, who cast out 'gil-gulim' and 'dibbuḳim' from insane people." See Exorcism; Metempsychosis.