The Zohar states that 974 generations of souls were reincarnated in Lavan’s sheep. Before Yaakov’s arrival at Lavan’s home, they were trapped by the Sitra Achra. Yaakov rescued these souls by implanting emunah into them in the form of the rods that he placed in the water, and when the sheep gazed at the rods, the souls inside them were transformed with purity.
Once, while studying in Yeshivat Abir Yaakov, a spirit entered the body of Rav Avraham Marciano zt”l, disturbing his learning and causing him tremendous distress and grief. One evening, at the conclusion of Maariv, everyone went out of the synagogue, leaving Rav Avraham alone in the beit midrash. The moment he was alone, the spirit began to harm and torment him, whereupon he fainted and fell to the ground. Quickly, the rosh yeshivah, Chacham Rabbeinu Yaakov Abuchatzeira zt”l, was called, and he arrived to find his student on the floor. As he stood at the entrance of the synagogue, he called the student by his name. To the great surprise of all, Rav Avraham got up off the floor, and the Abir Yaakov took him to his home.
Upon their arrival at his house, the spirit suddenly withdrew from the student and hovered at the entrance. It addressed Rabbeinu Yaakov in a loud and clear voice: “My Master, what do you wish from me?”
“Who gave you permission to disturb my student in the middle of his prayer and confuse him in his learning, when he is trying to serve Hashem?” Rabbeinu Yaakov rebuked the spirit. But the spirit did not relent.
“Holy Rabbi! You should know that when you pray in the synagogue, thousands of souls that have been cast aside and require a tikun gather there and derive great pleasure from your prayer. Many of them even merit through your prayer to return to their proper place in Heaven, whole and remedied. I am one of those souls; for a long time, I have been careful to be present in the synagogue for all your prayers so that I may receive my tikun. This student, however, constantly gets in my way, leaving me no room. He has pushed me out of the place I have chosen for myself in the synagogue, casting me aside from the shadow of the tzadik. I therefore decided to enter his body and cause him distress and pain until he falls ill, and then he will cease coming to the prayers in the synagogue. Then I will be able to claim my place anew and I will be able to continue enjoying your prayers that penetrate the heavens and allow the dispersed of Israel to take their rightful place.”
The holy Abir Yaakov commanded the spirit to leave the student immediately and never to harm him further. In reward for this, he promised that he himself would find him a suitable place in the synagogue so that he would be able to join the prayers until he succeeded in mending his soul as required. Rabbeinu Yaakov then sat down at his table, dipped his pen in the inkwell, and proceeded to write a special amulet to prevent the spirit from disturbing Rav Avraham ever again.
In spite of all this, the next day, the spirit suddenly returned to torment the student as it had done before. Rav Avraham reported to the Chacham that the spirit was not fulfilling its promise. Fear and trepidation seized those present, as Rabbeinu Yaakov approached the student and shouted at the spirit, “Did I not warn you and make you swear not to do this? I even wrote a special amulet forbidding you from approaching within four amot of him. Now you have not heeded my words and you have resumed your evil ways. I will ostracize you and prevent you from entering the Jewish Nation. You will perish from this world and your tikun will be lost for eternity! How did you re-enter my student after the amulet forbade you?”
In response, the spirit told him that the moment he had sat down to write the amulet, he prayed that the rabbi should forget one of the Holy Names of Hashem, so that the amulet would not prevent the spirit from gaining entrance into the student’s body. He added that it had been a great source of pleasure for him to be present and converse with the tzadik of the generation. Now that he had merited this one more time, he would immediately leave the body of the student, never to return.
To the amazement of all those present, the spirit’s words were confirmed when the amulet was opened and, in fact, one of the Names was missing, rendering the amulet useless. Even the prayer of a deceased soul has an effect in the upper sphere. The spirit conversed with the tzadik a bit longer and then it quickly left, never to harm Rav Avraham Marciano until the day he died.