The Evil Eye. What is it?
A jealous heart against another can cause damage upon someone by casting their eyes upon him or her. We find it in the Chumash – Bilaam had an evil eye that could cause damage to others. Modesty saves from the evil eye.
Understanding the Evil Eye
Someone explained to me the concept of the Evil Eye. Hash-m is very receptive to the desires and thoughts of every person. One of the 13 principle’s of Judaism of the Rambam is that Hash-m knows a person thoughts.
If a person looks at someone and sees that he has an item that he does not have – G-d opens up both of their books. He sees if the person is really deserving of the item and this causes a judgement to occur. If the person deserves the item – good. If he does not G-d allows harm to occur to the item or the person.
In the Torah we find hundreds of references of the evil eye:
Sarah (apparently inadvertently) cast an evil eye upon her maidservant Hagar causing her to miscarry. Miriam – Moses sister – in the Torah calls Moshe’s wife “cushite” / black because she was beautiful to avoid giving her the evil eye. Bilaam tried to cast his evil eye upon the people of Israel.
The Talmud (Bava_Metzia.107b) talks about the Evil Eye.There Rav once went to a graveyard. He found that 99 out of 100 people die of the Evil Eye and 1 out of Natural causes.
§ The Gemara returns to expounding the themes of blessings and the evil eye. The Torah states: “And the Lord will take away from you all sickness” (Deuteronomy 7:15). In interpreting this verse, Rav says: This verse is speaking about the evil eye. The Gemara comments: Rav conforms to his line of reasoning, as Rav went to a graveyard, and did what he did, i.e., he used an incantation to find out how those buried there died, and he said: Ninety-nine of these died by the evil eye, and only one died by entirely natural means.
This being the case – if a person – G-d forbid – becomes ill – in addition to the medical remedies he or she should take – it makes sense to also remove the evil eye from that person. In the beginning of the virus quarantine – someone I know was not feeling well. Their wife used an old Moroccan Jewish tradition (Tebhera) to rid oneself of the evil eye. That person eventually got better.
Tebhera is a mixture of certain spices that are placed in a pan and burned to make incense. Done properly it cause the evil eye to depart. Moroccan Jews of old know how to remove the evil eye. I remember my cousin was once ill before his bar mitzvah. His Moroccan grandmother living with him took a belt – folded it in half. She did some kind of procedure with her hands on the belt and he felt better.
Rabbi Ben Chetrit (in french) describes the whole process of the Evil Eye in a video (Le Mauvais Oeil)
One of the things he mentions is Yosef HaTzadik – Joseph the Son of Jacob – was guarded from the evil eye. How – because he was modest and separated from jealousy and materialism he was guarded from the evil eye.
Below is an article translated in English from dafina.net about ways to protect oneself.
Ayin Hara: 10 tips against the evil eye
Should we be afraid of the evil eye? How does it work? Here are some explanations to protect yourself from this phenomenon.
- The evil eye has a concrete existence in Judaism. It must be understood that the Creator directs the world through two essential forces. The first is Rigor and the second is Mercy. Rigor requires the strict application of the law on every act of man: the reward for good deeds and the punishment for bad deeds. On the other hand, Mercy acts so that man is not immediately punished for his bad deeds. His actions are then “on hold”, hoping that he will do Téchouva. Our Sages teach us that there are several things that wake up Rigor. One of these things is what is called the evil eye. Rigor then takes over Mercy, and the bad deeds that were until now “pending” will be punished immediately. Anyway, the evil eye is not the reason for the punishment but it is indeed the faults committed.
- Rav Eliyahou Dessler explains in his book “Mikhtav Méliyahou” that a person who jealous of another person decreases the abundance of life and thus causes him damage and misfortunes.
- The Guémara orders us not to be jealous of our neighbor in order to avoid him from the evil eye. In addition, we must be careful not to arouse jealousy over us.
- The Guémara advises us on this subject “not to stand in front of our neighbor’s field when the field is in bloom” (Baba Batra 2b).Even the damage caused by our gaze is considered to be connected to the evil eye according to the Halachah. It is a damage caused by the look of someone on private land.
- In order to avoid the evil eye, we must adopt a discreet lifestyle, not boast about our financial successes, the education of our children or any other success. He writes on this subject: “The blessing lies in what is hidden from the eye” (Ta’anit 8b).
- To protect oneself from the evil eye, one must have a “good eye” on our neighbor: on one’s possessions, one’s children … When a person takes a beneficial look at his neighbor, he protects himself from the evil eye of others. It is written on this subject in Proverbs: “A good eye is blessed”.
- We must remember the words of our Sages of the fact that the more a person pays attention to the evil eye, the more he is exposed to the evil eye.
- Rav Moshe Feinstein tells us what is the best attitude towards this subject when asked if a young pregnant woman should fear the evil eye. He replied: “I see no reason for a naturally pregnant woman to be exposed to the evil eye. We must not pay attention to this. We must fear the evil eye only in things that are rare in the world”.
- In order to protect ourselves from the evil eye, the Guémara advises us to place our right thumb on the left thumb and to say: “I am from the descendants of Yossef who do not fear the evil eye”.
- When a person feels a bad eye on him, he can go to real Rabbanim, recognized and serious, who can remove the bad eye. Kabbala offers different ways to remove the evil eye, for example by lead, but this must be done only in serious cases and by recognized Rabbanim.Let us end with a prayer: “Let it be Your will, Hashem our Gd, that no jealousy has control over us and that our jealousy cannot have control over others … And that we are saved of the evil eye “.