Does Judaism believe in ’evil spirits’ and ghosts? And if so, is there a way to protect homes from their influence/presence (in addition to affixing mezuzot)?
Shalom, Judaism believes in one and only one G-d, who created and encompasses every thing, and nothing runs without His knowledge and decision. He created one creation that has free autonomous will (unless G-d decides to intervene) and that is man. There are many drives and ideals in His world, many messengers (in Hebrew: mal’ach, commonly translated as :angel) or forces, but they are not autonomous and have no free will, only man. Similarly we find in the Talmud (eg. Brachot 55b): “shedim”, which also has sometimes been translated as “spirits”, but in effect, just like electricity, this is referring to a certain created force which has no autonomous power and no free will, but is totally subservient to Hashem. That’s why we don’t pray to angels or good or evil spirits, only to G-d (see Resp. Chatam Sofer, Or. Ch. 166). By the way, the Rambam (Hil. Mezuza, 6’ 13) stresses that mezuzot are a commandment of G-d, and that’s how it protects us, and definitely not a “charm”, chalila,. He writes that the tfilin, tzitzit and mezuza are “malachim” which protect us by reminding us to be good and do mitzvot, and that’s what protects us. Judaism is about ideals, doing good and being G-dly, not about ghosts and spirits, who even if they exist, are irrelevant compared to G-d and man himself, who “run the show”, destinating our fate, and completing the world and Israel. With Love of Israel, Rav Ari Shvat