The Truth Behind the Red String and the Evil Eye

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The Truth Behind the Red String and the Evil Eye

Hollywood celebrities have popularized the practice of wearing a red string to ward off the “evil eye.” Are these merely old superstitions, or legitimate concerns? What is the true meaning behind the evil eye in the Jewish tradition?
Evil Eye

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Anonymous North Bergen June 21, 2019

Is there a reason why every time that I wear the evil eye or the red string bracelet, I feel my arm heavy.. like really heavy as if something is pulling me down. I use it in my left hand Reply

Cece LA July 16, 2019
in response to Anonymous:

I would like to know the answer to that as well. I have the same problem. I have to take it off because it feels like it weights a ton. Reply

Ken SF January 15, 2019

I believe that you have to watch out when you see someone looking at you in a certain manner that reveals their envy, jealousy, resentment, malice, and contempt. Sometimes you can see it, sometimes you can feel it, sometimes you simply uncover it. Reply

Penny NYC February 11, 2018

Is there a reason that anyone knows of for why there are no men responding to this? Reply

miha ahronovitz rocklin February 8, 2018

A blog There are two meanings of the Evil Eye. "The most well-known one is the poisonous look of jealousy that people too often give one another. Whether or not such a look is meant to cause harm, it is still dangerous. In fact, the Talmud says that looks can kill (Bava Metzia 107b)."

Yet, there is another aspect of ayin ra (Evil Eye). "This aspect is a demise of the heart. Everyone knows the feeling of excitement and of anticipation when embarking on a new project. It happens, more than than occasionally, that those feelings get lost. One runs into obstacles, one gets distracted by competing projects or one begins to view the project in a different, more unfavorable light. One's heart stops beating for the project."

How do we combat Esav's ayin ra? By cultivating an ayin tov (good eye) of the kind that King David had. King David had "beautiful eyes and good vision"

We have to seek people like King David. We need to avoid people like's Essau, Jacob's brother., the quintessential evil eye. Reply

Ruth Coconut Creek, FL November 13, 2017

The truth behind the Red String and the evil eye Thank you Rabbi. Listening to the lecture made me think of the mercy Hashem showed Rahab because she didn't think evil against the spies who came to search out the country. Instead she hid the spies and protected them from death. And said to the two spies , since I have shown you kindness, swear by your G-d that you will also show kindness to my father's house. "Spare my family from death." Kindness begets kindness ! She was asked to hang a red cord through the same window in which she let the spies down. The scarlet cord would enable Israel's army to identify Rahab's house and spare all within. The cord is symbolic of the redemptive work of G-d to a woman living in a pagan society . There is so much more that we can learn in Sefer Yehoshua about the red cord.
Thank you,
Ruth Reply

Chaia New York November 2, 2017

I have a hamsa and a star of David in my home. I wear a red ribbon and a hamsa evil eye bracelet and a shema prayer ring. I believe that it is protection from those who don't wish you the best. I knock on wood , poo poo, kinainahura all of the time and thank G-D . Whether it's ludicrous to some or tradition or just keeping safe there's no harm in it. Reply

Anonymous West Bloomfield Mi February 8, 2018
in response to Chaia:

The world is replete with gratuitous hate and envy, so your amulet action is understandable. Knocking on wood is a Christian custom, having to do with their cross. Knock it off! Reply

Preston Richmond January 9, 2019
in response to Anonymous:

Knocking on wood comes from an ancient (pre-Christian) Celtic belief that mischievous spirits (the fair folk) residing within the wood may take action to thwart your good fortune should they hear you speak of it. You knock so they can't hear you.

My mom is Jewish. My dad is Scotts-Irish. I got all the lore. Reply

Ken SF January 15, 2019
in response to Preston:

Amulets and symbols from the Middle East, intended to ward off the "evil eye," such as the "Hand of Miriam," predate Judaism, they come from very ancient tradition. People are capable of envying anything, no matter their own good health and fortune. . Reply

Anonymous Kenya November 1, 2017

Excellent lecture - Thank you Rabbi Reply

Anonymous September 12, 2017

Amen! Well said :) Reply

Chaia March 1, 2016

The evil eye Listening to the rabbi I had to smile. How the memories came rushing back. My dear Grandma and Mother always said kinainahura. Don't know the spelling but you will understand. There were people to avoid. Poo poo. Knock on wood, thank G-D. All of these were what we were taught to believe. When my brother died all of my mother's friends who had children or were expecting avoided her as if she were the evil eye itself. O believed it all and still do think people who don't like you can wish you harm. I have a star of David by the front door and an Israeli Hamsa upstairs. Protection perhaps but superstition is strong in many groups of people. I talk to G-D every day and ask him to watch over my loved ones and hope only good comes into their lives. Being mere human beings we are prone to things like jealousy or dislike and even though we wish we did not fear someone we deem as evil or we wanted that nice car they just bought it happens. Hopefully we all follow the laws of G-D Reply

Grace Cherie Mexico February 14, 2016

Thank you Rabbi Reply

Chaya Brooklyn January 11, 2016

What about if I don't live on a higher plane and I believe that people's evil eyes are affecting me, how can I prevent it from affecting me? Reply

Gregory Sydney Australia January 8, 2016

In the Presence of Holiness evil either is not or He would embrace it back unto Himself. Surely only continuous dependence on Him is sufficient. Gregory. Reply

Ruth M. Coconut Creek, FL January 6, 2016

Evil Eye and Red String Thank you...talk about humility.
Humility refuses to promote or exalt itself, trusting Hashem to bring advancement. It quickly acknowledges the L-rd when anything it does is recognized, knowing that all accomplishment are realized through G-d. May my eye accomplish good and not evil knowing that the Eye of G-d see's the inward heart of me. Reply

ImanuEl China January 6, 2016

Great teaching, a must watch. Thank you, Rabbi! Reply

Julia Jeorge January 5, 2016

The Truth Behind the Red String and the Evil Eye Thank you Rabbi Plotkin. This was a wonderful lecture. You are a wise man, thank you for the instruction.I have always been afraid of the evil eye, not so much of giving but of getting. I now see that if I don't believe in it it can't hurt me.I listen to many of your lectures and read the weekly magazine from Chabad.org, you are a blessing to me, thank you. Reply

Cristina Sousa January 5, 2016

I jumpped ahead as soon as I heard the rabbi speaking about having a iron dome in a joking manner and mentioning that maybe it was the kippah :-)
If that would be the case it would probably be because of our walk with Hashem and the fact that the head cover is a declaration that we belong to Him and we stand in awe of Him. I walk in that manner so probably that's why the cover becomes a iron dome because fir the Jew it is a statement of belonging to the God of Israel. Reply

Anonymous usa January 5, 2016

Red string Everybody has their own suspicions . When I was a young child the saying was step on a crack and you will break your Mothers back. Foolish as it sounds where I grew up it was the belief. Reply

Cristina Sousa / Yiskah Norwich UK January 3, 2016

Kippah being the Iron Dome for the Jew This makes so much sense.
Some years ago Hashem told me to cover my hair and I started to do it straight away day and night as I felt that it was like an iron dome for my life.
I kept doing it because of conviction and one day I had my answer.
I went to a class on customer service and I had my hat. I saw there a girl that showed very irritated but was controlling herself.
At a certain point I was very hot and I took the hat for a minute to try to cool out and this lady manifested her irritation very strongly against me. Suddenly the penny dropped and I put back my hat and the girl got quiet.
The same happened in my home as I thought I had my scarf on the hair and suddenly my son started to be verbally violent towards me and we had a bad time at home that day, suddenly I pass through a mirror and I realised I didn't have my head cover. Again I saw that there is something very real about covering our head and protection of Hashem in our lives.

Thank you so much for this lecture :-) Reply

Samir Singh Noida October 31, 2022
in response to Cristina Sousa / Yiskah:

Following the good Jewish tradition is our moral duty. Reply

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