According to this entry in Wikipedia:

"In Kabbalah, demons are regarded a necessary part of the divine emanation in the material world and a byproduct of human sin (Qliphoth). After they are created, they assume an existence on their own. Demons would attach themselves to the sinner and start to multiply as an act of self-preservation."

Also, what does it mean when they attach themselves and multiply?


  • Pirke avos ch 4 mishna 11 comes to mind though it doesn't say the word demon specifically
    – Dude
    Dec 2, 2022 at 2:29

1 Answer 1


That's a quote from wikipedia. To me, it doesn't sound right, but I can't explain why as I haven't read the book, which is written by a reform rabbi (i.e. not a kabbalist), nor do I know why the author of that section of the page wrote it the way they wrote it.

Instead, I'll refer you to Chapter 7 of Tanya, written by an original, authentic kabbalist, which deals with the subject.

To very briefly (and certainly insufficiently) summarise: God created a world, which is left incomplete, and invites us to complete it. The way we do that is by performing good deeds and avoiding bad deeds. Good deeds have a positive effect on the world, and bad deeds have a negative impact.

Kabbalistic metaphor describes three categores - klipa, klipat nogah and kedusha. Klipa, 'husk', is that which hides the Creator, and Kedusha, 'holiness', reveal the Creator. The Klipat nogah is the "touching klipa", the innermost part of the 'husk' that bridges the two.

When a Jew takes something that is neutral, e.g. kosher meat and wine (which get their vitality from the klipat nogah), and consumes them in the way God instructed him to (by following all the laws e.g. saying the correct blessing, and having the correct, pure intentions of only eating it in order to gain energy to further serve his Creator), then:

...it is absorbed within Kedusha... the good that is intermingled in it is extracted and separated from the evil, prevails, and ascends to be absorbed in Kedusha...When one eats and drinks in the above-mentioned manner, then the vitality of the meat and the wine which originated in kelipat nogah is then extracted from the evil and ascends to G‑d like a burnt offering and sacrifice (i.e., the life-force of kelipat nogah that the food and drink contain is absorbed in Sanctity).

If however, he eats that sandwich in an improper way, only to satisfy his cravings, then:

he vitality of the meat and wine that he ingested is thereby degraded and absorbed temporarily in the utter evil of the three unclean kelipot. His (the glutton’s) body becomes a garment and a “vehicle” for these kelipot.

This is very esoteric, of course, but the imagery is clear - the vitality of the neutral items in the world can either ascend or descend. If they ascend, they are given over to revealing God, and if not, they add more obscuration of God in the world, further darkening it, i.e. "vitalizing the klipot".

So, does this create demons, angels etc? Some will say yes (although nobody will say these demons/angels are anything like the stereotypical demons of popular culture), some will say no, it is just a metaphor to add imagery to aid understanding of the above concepts. Some will say that the answers are very deep...

This isn't something an amateur in kabbalah should really be thinking about, as it requires a lot of background and deep understanding. In Tanya, Shaar Hayikhud Ve-ha-emunah, Chapter 1, the Alter Rebbe quotes the Arizal:

"even in the literally inanimate—like stones, dust and water—there is a soul and spiritual life… which enlivens and creates the inanimate"

-see this article: https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3432275/jewish/Do-Chabad-Teachings-Say-Anything-About-the-Mind-Body-Problem.htm

"Aristotle famously described G‑d as “thought thinking itself.” But the Maimonidean view, as interpreted by R. Schneur Zalman, is that all reality is divine thought thinking itself."

As you can see, not for amateurs.

EDIT: I recently heard in a shiur that when you lose control to a forbidden desire, that is a demon. This particular sin does indeed "multiply itself", the more one engages in it, the more addictive and demonic it becomes. The idea of "self preservation" comes from the concept of "just one more" combined with "I still haven't had the greatest pleasure, must keep going until I find it and am finally satisfied for good".

  • I've read that Kabbalah mentions that demons can be created if a man "improperly spills his seed" a sin considered so heinous by the Kabbalah because it subverts the creative process.
    – Orionixe
    Nov 30, 2022 at 6:00
  • Tanya Ch 7: As it says in that chapter of Tanya "Such is not the case, however, with forbidden foods and illicit coition, which inasmuch as they are prohibited acts derive their vitality from the three entirely unclean kelipot.... These are tied and bound by the “extraneous forces” (the kelipot) forever... he begets and multiplies them to an exceedingly great extent through wasteful emission of semen, even more so than through forbidden coitions... For in the case of forbidden coitions, one contributes additional strength and vitality to a most unclean kelipah"
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Nov 30, 2022 at 16:45
  • "“He who recites the Shema at bedtime is as if he held a double-edged sword…, meaning one edge wherewith to slay the bodies of the “extraneous forces” (the kelipot) that have become garments for the vitality in the drops of semen and another edge by which the vitality ascends from them (from the kelipot), as is known to the students of the Kabbalah.” Demons are when you lose yourself to a forbidden desire. Klipot are that which conceals Hashem. I think the imagery is spot on when it comes to this particular sin, whether it be metaphor or literal
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Nov 30, 2022 at 16:47

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