Apparently binge-watching activates the same reward systems that sex and cocaine do. Any activity or substance that consistently produces dopamine can be addictive, because our bodies don’t discriminate against pleasure.
You know who also doesn’t discriminate against pleasure? Sabrina Spellman.
Threw you for a curveball there, didn’t I? If you haven’t jumped to the listicle section of this article already, then bear with me. In the third season of Netflix’s Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, our protagonist finds herself in quite the pickle: Her smokin’ hot boyfriend Nicholas Scratch’s sexy bod is a vessel housing her arguably equally sexy father Lucifer, AKA Satan.
But I’m not here to talk about Sabrina’s daddy issues (you can find me after class for that presentation). I’m here to dissect every Jewish reference in the extremely horny occult show about Sabrina Spellman, the half-mortal, full-teenage witch.
Set in Greendale, the neighboring town to Riverdale of the Archie Comics universe, the prior seasons of CAS gave us Lilith, the seductive — and feminist! — Jewish demon, a Jewish stripper, and a sexy shofar blowing (I told you this show was horny!).
Judaic motifs like Hebrew written on the Gates of Hell and Stars of David on stained glass windows were nice touches, but the latest and most definitely greatest season of the dark coming-of-age story weaved even more Jewish references into its plot, giving us witchy Jews the content we need — nay — deserve!
Yes, the show’s writing is all over the place (what’s with the random punk rock band musical numbers this season??), and sure, Sabrina’s ex-boyfriend Harvey is a total boner killer, but something about CAS keeps me coming back for more. Is it Nick Scratch’s glistening abs? Perhaps. Could it be Aunt Hilda and Aunt Zelda’s iconic rapport, or the sexually fluid members of their coven, the Church of Night? It’s likely. It really may just be Maybelline, but I’m going to blame it on that sweet, sweet rush of dopamine that floods my nervous system when the opening credits play.
Let’s begin, shall we?
Some call him Satan, others call him the Dark Lord, and Sabrina is one of the unlucky ones to know him as daddy. In Season 2 of CAS, Sabrina discovers that her mortal mother Diana made a deal with the devil to conceive a half-witch, making her biological father the sexy Lucifer Morningstar, and not Edward Spellman, the adoring man who raised her.
One of the biggest differences between Christianity and Judaism is the perception of hell. In the New Testament, Lucifer is the enemy of God, an opposing force to all that is good. In the Torah, Satan appears in Parashat Balak, which paints a much different picture than the red devil we see in pop culture. In Num. 22:22, God sends an angel to stop the mystic holy man Bilam from cursing the Israelites on the way to the Land of Promise: “God’s angel positioned himself in the way to inhibit [Bilam].” The key word here that differentiates the Christian Satan from the Jewish Satan is “inhibit.” The Jewish Satan doesn’t inflict pain for shits and gigs, but rather uses his power of divine redirection to present an obstacle on a road that shouldn’t be traveled.
Whereas Christianity views Jesus as the savior who overcomes Satan, Jewish literature regards Satan/Samael/Lucifer Morningstar (classic Jews, always with a million names) as an angel of God who helps us control our yezter hara (sinful impulses) by “stumbling rocks” in our path to reveal silver linings.
In CAS, Lucifer is portrayed more like the Christian Satan.
Circle of Salt
After retrieving her biological father from inferno, Sabrina basically grounds Lucifer, who, mind you, is still trapped in her boyfriend’s body, and keeps him locked in a dungeon inside a circle of salt to keep him from escaping. In Jewish superstition, salt is regarded as having superb powers against evil spirits (and wine stains!) and is used to ward off those nasty evil eyes. Presumably distracted by her extreme daddy issues, Sabrina drags her feet across the salt and breaks the circle, allowing the Big Bad to escape his cell. To be fair, if my evil father used my boyfriend’s mouth and tongue to snarl “Call me daddy” at me, I’d be off my game, too.
Judith and Judas
Faustus Blackwood, former High Priest of the Church of Night and current resident douchebag, fathered a pair of twins with his widower Constance Blackwood. Judith is named after our biblical feminist icon from the Book of Judith, a heroine who defeated the enemy Holofernes by seducing him to gorge on cheese and wine before beheading him. Her brother, Judah, may refer to the fourth son of Jacob and Leah and the leader of the Israelite Tribe of Judah.
The Deep One
My least favorite character in CAS, next to Harvey Kinkle, is Blackwood, who travels to the Loch Ness in Scotland to summon a curious globe from the “Deep One.” Dressed in what looks like a Moses costume set from Party City, Blackwood uses a staff to resurrect his precious evil fetus. It was all very splitting-the-Red-Sea-esque.
Caliban the Golem
On her way to casually collect her boy-toy Nick from Lilith’s lair in the City of Pandemonium, Sabrina meets hunk-of-the-century Caliban, who’s actually made of clay, making him the sexiest golem in Jewish lore. Pausing production on his sand castle (adorable!), the Prince of Hell oh-so seductively undresses Sabrina with his eyes before she returns to her real mission — Netflix and chilling with her boyfriend. Caliban is later revealed to be kind of a dick when he challenges Sabrina for control over the Throne of Hell. But, oozing sex appeal, I’d still make out with him.
Notably, Sabrina created a golem of her own in Season 2.
Mark of Cain
In a complicated plot line that I don’t care for explaining, Sabrina’s new regent Lilith gives Blackwood the Mark of Cain, a protection spell, in exchange for Lucifer’s seed. Yep, Lilith is about to become the mother of Sabrina’s half-brother!
In the Torah, God curses Cain, son of Adam and Eve, with a mark for murdering his brother Abel and lying about it. Both Lilith and God use the mark to protect the lives of Cain and Blackwood.
The Academy of the Unseen Arts, Sabrina’s witch school, is located in Gehena Station. This nods to Gehenna, the small valley south of Jerusalem where pagan nations of Canaan sacrificed babies to the god Moloch. In Jeremiah 19, God tells the prophet Jeremiah to head downtown to Gehenna and tell the idol worshippers that their sacrificial spot would become a place of torture and punishment.
According to My Jewish Learning, only “truly righteous souls” go to the Garden of Eden, whereas the “average person” goes to a “place of punishment and or/purification” in the Jewish version of hell known as Gehinnom. After a year of reflection in this Jewish hell/purgatory, Jewish souls either ascend to the Garden of Eden or remain in eternal damnation. I’m going to keep this in mind next Yom Kippur…
In Faustus’ absence, Sabrina’s aunt Zelda takes over the Academy as High Priestess. To create the illusion that all is peachy keen, Zelda and her sister Hilda feed the Witches Council a “persuasion” honey cake. Maybe this is a stretch, but when my mom makes honey cake for Rosh Hashanah, she can persuade me to do what I hate most: wash the holiday after-math dishes.
Image via Netflix