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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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Hardly a Beinoni Boca Raton, Florida September 13, 2016

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. Reply

Karen New York July 10, 2016

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. Reply

Anonymous June 24, 2016

I don't think it is real Reply

Anat May 3, 2016

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. Reply

Horacio Philippines 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. Reply

Anonymous Milan, PA USA August 22, 2014

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" Reply

SORA BLOCK December 5, 2013

I grew up wearing a red string because my parents were Sephardic. My father especially believed in ayin hara. Thank you for your depth. Reply

LEVI London June 22, 2013

G-d is the only one to turn to for protection. Reply

Jew In Nevada Carson City, Nevada May 25, 2013

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. Reply

Anonymous June 1, 2012

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. Reply

Anonymous Milan, Italy July 29, 2011

Last time i checked in the Torah,I didn't find any mention of the ancient Jews putting their trust in anyone else than HaShem,But maybe things have changed since then and no one told me..... Reply

Anonymous Boca Raton, Florida March 9, 2011

I will attest that the existence of the evel eye is very real even in our moder culture.
I choose not to wear the red string because I can visualize wearing it and accomplish the same results...no one has to know my business. Reply

Anonymous December 19, 2010

Only G-d, our all powerful and all knowing G-d, can protect us from anything and anyone. The answer to any fear and concern is that of having 101% trust in G-d. Anything else taking the place of G-d is idolatry. Reply

sara yita brooklyn, ny October 28, 2010

If the gemara views it as legitimate, one can not deny its power. Living a modest lifestyle, playing down anything that might make others uncomfortable, while striving never to hurt anyone under any circumstances are the ways to avoid the evil eye.
Later chassidic leaders speak of the effectiveness of the red string which was wound around rachel's tomb. Reply

Anonymous buffalo grove, il September 17, 2010

If one feels that they have been cursed by the "evil eye" is there a specific ritual one can have to get rid of it? Reply

cbb chicago, il March 6, 2010

evil can't hurt you if you're not afraid of it Reply

roseanne hilo, HI January 15, 2010

Evil does indeed exist within the heart and mind of the human.( the tree of the knowledge of good and evil). this is kabballistic teaching)...you can ward it off by resisting your own evil inclination, your native reflexes.(klippot)
Hear o Israel, There is only ONE EVERYTHING!

(this for anonymous) Reply

roseanne January 13, 2010

the red string is to be worn in order to be part of the love rachel had for her children. the red string is wrapped around the tomb of rachel by male and females and takes six hours to wrap, and then meditate over the idea of love and sacrifice of ego in order to give to and protect the entire community of israel. The wearing of the red string is to symbolize that you have agreed to be part of the intelligence/energy of the MOTHER. (the jewish mother is the conscience of the jewish world), as was rachel, who gave up her life for her children. Anything that is overtly female is derided and misunderstood by jewish men, largely. You deflect the evil eye by NOT GIVING IT. that is the real reason you wear the string, to remind you that the condemning judgemental looks you give to other females will return to you karmically. dont start none wont be none. It is a deeply spiritual act of becoming communal. Reply

Anonymous Fall River, MA November 19, 2009

This doesn't fit into true kabbalistic teachings. If you need to ward off "evil" you are creating an opposing force to the creator. This is the ultimate blasphemy. Creating a false idol, and giving it power. There is no force except the creator, and he is a constant good. Nothing can oppose him because he is all there is. Reply

Robert Hazel March 29, 2009

Red string or thread became the difference between life and death for Rahab and her family, so there must be some significance about a red string. Just in this instance is not the same circumstances exactly. Very interesting though. Reply