Evil Eye – Ayin Hara
Is there such a thing as “evil eye” in Judaism? My family is lately having a serious spate of bad luck, and I’m wondering if there is some kind of jinx on the family and anything I can do about it.
The Aish Rabbi Replies
“Evil eye” is known as “ayin hara” in Judaism. It is a real force, mentioned many times in the Talmud and Kabbalistic works (e.g. Talmud Brachot 20a, 55b).
The concept behind it is actually rather straightforward. If we flaunt our blessings and draw undue attention to ourselves, it invokes the jealous notice of others. Drawing such negative attention also draws the notice of the Heavenly court. And it causes our judgment to be revisited: Do we really deserve this blessing which has engendered the ill-will of so many others?
Thus, in the eyes of Judaism, “evil eye” is not some spooky, nebulous force which goes about attacking the unsuspecting. It is a logical phenomenon – and for the most part, the result of our own indiscreet behavior.
The Talmud (Brachot 20b) does observe that one who does not covet what others have is less susceptible to the evil eye himself. He himself does not look askance at others’ blessings. As a result, the jealous stares of others will not affect him. Likewise, Joseph, who refused his master’s wife’s advances and did not covet that which was not his, became immune to the effects of the evil eye – as did his descendants for all time.
Regardless, when things go wrong, our general approach is not to blame it on invisible forces such as the evil eye – although of course we should always be wary of flaunting our blessings. Rather, we should take it as a sign from God to improve our ways. The Talmud writes that when suffering is visited upon us we should examine our ways (Brachot 5a). When things go wrong, our first reaction should be to turn to God and attempt to determine His message for us – as well as praying to Him for illumination. Before blaming our problems on mysterious forces, we look up to Heaven to help us.
Nevertheless, there are extreme cases in which a person feels just everything is going wrong, going completely beyond the bounds, and he wants to be sure he is not afflicted with an Evil Eye. There are women in Jerusalem who specialize in Evil Eye removal (for a fee of course). We have an article written by someone who used their services, with contact information provided in the comments. Here is the link:
Again, however, I would only recommend this as an absolute last resort.