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Encyclopedia Judaica: Abracadabra

ABRACADABRA, magic word or formula used mainly in folk medicine, as an incantation against fevers and inflammations. Several origins for the obscure word have been proposed, most of them regarding it as a derivative of an Aramaic demon-name, now unrecognizable. It occurs first in the writings of Severus Sammonicus, a gnostic physician of the second century C.E. In the same manner as Abracadabra, the name of Shabriri, the demon of blindness, and other magic words were used in Jewish magic, incantations, and amulets. An amulet still in use among some Oriental Jews utilizes a talmudic formula:

(Pes. 112a; Av. Zar. 12b)

SHABRIRI
ABRIRI
RIRI
RI


BIBLIOGRAPHY:

J. Trachtenberg, Jewish Magic and Superstition (1939), 80 ff., 116 ff.; EJ, 1 (1928), 372 ff.

[Dov Noy]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.