As we approach Halloween, some of you might want to be on the lookout for spooky stuff. Therefore, I thought I’d share directions contained in the Talmud that teach folks how to find demons. Yes, you read that correctly. No, I do not want you to try any of this at home! However, I do want you to see that we have our own ghoulish, creepy traditions.
According to the Talmud, here’s what one looking for demons needs to do:
If you who seek to know that demons exist, place fine ashes around your bed, and in the morning the demons’ footprints appear like chickens’ footprints, in the ash. If you want to see actual demons, take the placenta of a firstborn female black cat (don’t do this at home; leave your cat alone!!!), born to a firstborn female black cat. Take the placenta and burn it in the fire, grind it and place it in your eyes, and you will see them. Important: you must then place the ashes in an iron tube sealed with an iron seal lest the demons steal it from you. Make sure to seal the opening so you will not be harmed! WARNING: Rav Beivai bar Abaye performed this procedure, saw the demons, and was harmed! The Sages prayed for mercy on his behalf and he was healed. (Berakot 6a)
These directions do indeed come from the Talmud and make it clear that even in Judaism, black cats have tremendous power.
For those going trick-or-treating, be safe. For those wanting to look for demons, please remember the plight of Rav Beivai bar Abaye. For those seeking some peace and quiet, Shabbat is almost here!

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