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Do You Believe in the "Evil Eye"?

Do You Believe in the "Evil Eye"?

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Question:

I was given a red string by a friend -- she called it a "Kabbalah bracelet" and says it brings success and protection and guards against the Evil Eye. Is this for real?

Answer:

There is absolutely no doubt that red strings have brought astounding success -- to the people selling them for $29 a pop. The question is what they do for everyone else.

Although not written in any Kabbalistic source that I have seen, the red string is an old tradition. A thread is wrapped seven times around the tomb of Rachel in Israel, and then cut into little cords. It is then said to give protection from the "Evil Eye" for one who wears it on his or her wrist.

The Evil Eye is the name given to harmful negative energy which is created by people looking at you with envy or ill-feeling. The red string is supposed to deflect this energy.

This is a widely accepted belief and whatever its source it seems pretty harmless. But the Talmud1 says that the Evil Eye can only affect you if you worry about it, whereas it leaves you alone if you ignore it. So a more effective (and cheaper) way to avoid the Evil Eye is to forget about it.

If you are concerned that some sinister power has designs on you, there are other solutions. The most powerful protection against evil forces is the force of goodness. Whether a red string helps or not I do not know, but it is definitely not a replacement for sincere prayer, generous charity and moral conduct.

It is certainly easier and less demanding to just buy a piece of string. But the world does not become better as a result. There is still negative energy, it just hasn't caught you. But when you increase in positive energy by doing more selfless and holy acts, rather than just deflecting those forces you are combating them and diminishing their power.

For someone who lives an ethical life, a red string is nothing more than an accessory.

Footnotes
1.
Pesachim 110b.
Aron Moss is rabbi of the Nefesh Community in Sydney, Australia, and is a frequent contributor to Chabad.org.
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Discussion (40)
September 13, 2016
The 'Evil Eye'
This belief has been the focus of popular, scholarly & religious attention since time immemorial. Tradition has it,that following his expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Adam was given the "Book of Reziel the Angel". This esoteric Treatise is replete with amulets promising protection against an 'Evil eye'. Interestingly, Rabbi Don Isaac Abarbanel (1437-1508)' the great Jewish statesman, philosopher, Bible commentator, and financier to the Court of Alphonso V, notes: That the 'power' of the 'Evil Eye' is not a heavenly punishment, mitigated by a malevolent, human visual glance; but, is rather an example of a purely physical phenomenon, of the power of the human gaze, auto-suggestively internalized by another person. In this vein, modern, empirical, psychological studies appear to lend credence to Don Isaac's observation of some 500 years ago. So, look no further than our Sacred Literature.
Hardly a Beinoni
Boca Raton, Florida
July 10, 2016
Evil Eye
I was told by my mom that her grandmother often used the hand gesture to ward off someone's "evil eye'. Since they were Italian, I'm guessing this belief was commom to a number of cultures.
Karen
New York
June 24, 2016
I don't think it is real
Anonymous
May 3, 2016
The evil eye
Agree with this hundred percent, If a person has a clean heart and mind no evil forces or evil eye ever effect a human being because Hashem protect these people.
The more a person believes in evil forces there are more chances that a person will be effected. It is very important to Daven, pray daily with sincere prayers and leave the rest to Hashem. There is no logic behind the threats and all the other stuff.
Anat
October 18, 2014
I believe that red string is powerful and effective. But i don't see people wearing them specially those that are yeshiva learning. Nothing happens.
Horacio
Philippines
August 22, 2014
It is helping me.
Yes I recently bought a red string from Eretz Yisrael. To just give a person a red string may be doing them a disservice. In addition to applying the sting, It must be done by another person who you love and trust. Once tied, that person must say the Ben Porat prayer, and then you must promise to banish evil thoughts from your mind and to refrain from speaking Loshon Hora. The dynamic here is very helpful. When I look at the string, it reminds me to think and do good. It helps me focus on positive thinking and action. For me, it is a great reminder which is very helpful. I feel much better already because I am improving my behavior, and I concentrate on bringing light into darkness, and looking for diamonds where there don't appear to be any! It reminds me to turn to G-d for protection and help and to daven more Tehillim. I use it as a Reminder!, G-d is the one who I trust in ." Fear not, Avraham, I am thy shield, thy reward shall be exceeding great"
Anonymous
Milan, PA USA
December 5, 2013
RED STRING
I grew up wearing a red string because my parents were Sephardic. My father especially believed in ayin hara. Thank you for your depth.
SORA BLOCK
June 22, 2013
Red String
G-d is the only one to turn to for protection.
LEVI
London
May 25, 2013
Is Jewelry Really Idoltary?
Could one wear an Evil Eye pendant? I have seen Jews wear those, just as they wear the Hamsa on a chain around their neck, for other reasons.

If we do not worship the object we wear, how can it still be considered an Idol?
Isn't it like a wedding ring or band? It is there to remind us of what we have, of our love for another, of another's love for us.

Any Jewelry worn by a Jew to be shows his/her pride. Like wearing a kippot.
Why be a closet-Jew? Embrace your love for yourself and your people.

I do not know about Kabballah. I never studied it. I am just speaking about Judaism in general.
Jew In Nevada
Carson City, Nevada
June 1, 2012
Nonsense
Tosefta Shabbat, Ch. 7. "one who ties ... a red string to his finger, ... these are idolatrous behaviors". It is the way of the Emorim, and utter nonsense. Trust in G-d, not a red string. It makes us Jews look ridiculous to believe in such tripe as amulets and the like. Same as baking the key in bread, and other such superstitions.
Anonymous