We can destroy our own demons with our own hands. How can we do it? A nice and pleasant prayer which helps us sleep tranquilly and calmly without unsettling dreams.
The Peleh Yoetz promises that “whoever recites the Shema, harmful spirits desist from him.” The recital of the Shema is an important commandment that involves accepting the Kingdom of Heaven and the commandments upon oneself. When we recite the verse: “Hear O Israel, the Lord our G-d the Lord is One,” we should have in mind that we accept G-d as our master and patron, and believe that G-d is one and unique, one in heaven and on earth and the four corners of the universe, and be ready to give up our souls in sanctification of His holy name.
The prayer appears in any prayer book, and it should be said twice a day: in the morning and at night.
When going to bed there is another mitzvah of “The Recital of the Shema at Bedtime.” Every night, every Jew, man and woman should soul-search the previous day and should go to sleep believing that he is entrusting his soul in the hands of the Almighty. The Recital of the Shema at Bedtime contains all three parts of the Shema (“Hear O Israel,” “And if you faithfully obey” and the section about the Tzitzit-fringes), the blessing of “Hamapil” and additional verses and remedies to protect one from harmful spirits.
Either every day we advance a little more towards the purpose of our lives, or G-d forbid we move away from it. Every day we fulfill many commandments, but also may act improperly in some matter.
Bedtime is a great time to scan the map to check if we are on the right path. We can take stock of what happened to us during the day, and plan different moves tomorrow, learn from our mistakes and derive lessons from them. We can recall the negative things we did, repent them and decide to avoid them in the future. We can also remember the positive deeds we did and strengthen ourselves and do more of them. This is the true way towards reaching the purpose of our lives.
When a Jew goes to sleep, he entrusts his ruach-soul that gives him life with the Almighty. When the ruach-soul leaves the body, the body only remains with the lowest level of the soul which is called nefesh-soul. Our sages therefore teach that sleep is 1/60 of death. While we are still alive because of our nefesh-soul, we certainly are not alert and cannot function in a normal way during sleep. When the ruach-soul leaves the body, it leaves behind a vacuum which attracts harmful spirits and various forces of impurity. This is the “taste” of death that we experience, until the Almighty returns the soul to the body.
The Hamapil blessing is a prayer to the Creator of the universe to protect us from harmful spirits, bad dreams, and unpleasant incidents, and of course to wake us up and give us back our souls in the morning.