The concept of Ayin Hara-Part 1-True or superstition

Ayin Hara:[1]

A. Introduction:

Torah source or superstition? The concept of an evil eye is discussed in many areas of Jewish literature, including the Talmud[2], Midrash[3], and Shulchan Aruch[4], and is a real power that can affect another person negatively. In fact, the Talmudic Sage, Rav, stated that he visited a cemetery and discovered that 99% of people die before their time due to the effect of the evil eye that others cast on them.[5]

How it works: One of the most powerful ways that an evil eye can be transmitted onto another is through sight. When a person looks at another person he is creating a deep subliminal, and subconscious connection between himself and the person. In Chassidus it is explained that staring at a person has such power that the person who is being looked at will feel it and turn around to see who is staring at him.[6] The Maharal of Pargue writes that the eye is like a flame thrower, and has ability to burn things that it looks at in a negative way.[7] Thus, it is clear, that the innocent looking stare which seemingly makes no trespass into another person’s privacy, in truth has ability to trespass his privacy in the most intimate of ways, that physical trespassing can never reach. It is for this reason that the Poskim[8] severely warned against staring at a person in a way that can cause an evil eye to befall him, and one who does so transgress the prohibition of Hezek Reiyah. This practically means, that not only may one not stare at another person and think of him bad and evil thoughts, but he may not even think neutral thoughts that can lead to an evil eye, such as to think about all of his blessings, how rich he is, how beautiful he looks, which often brings a spark of jealousy or judgment. Emphasizing a person’s blessing can cause a reverse effect above, that his blessing be removed.

B. Avoiding the evil eye:

One needs to be very careful to beware from an Ayin Hara.[9] The people of Bavel have to be more careful regarding Ayin Hara, more than other people of the world.[10] An Ayin Hara can lead to death of a person, as stated above.[11] Nonetheless, a victim, can avoid the evil eye, even if another person placed it on him. This can be accomplished through completely removing one’s mind from the matter, and not contemplating it. One who contemplates the evil eye, and enters paranoia that people are casting it upon him, causes the damage to befall him. One, however, who ignores the evil eye, and remains steadfast that it has no true power over him, can deflect any of its damage.[12] [The Rebbe on various occasions discussed the necessity of ignoring the evil eye and removing one’s mind from it.[13] This however does not mean that its potential does not exist, and thus all the above laws brought in Halacha relating to Ayin Hara remain in place.[14] The Rebbe’s message was not that Ayin Hara is not existent and does not have any effect, but that one can protect himself from falling a victim towards it, if he removes his mind from it and gives it no credence.[15]]     


[1] Sefer Shemiras Haguf Vihanefesh [Lerner] 241

[2] Bava Metzia 30a regarding the object of another; Bava Metzia 42a that blessing is only found on matters concealed from the eyes;  Rav Yehuda Bava Metzia 107a and Bava Basra 2b not to purchase fields near the city; Rav Bava Metzia 107b that 99% of people die from the evil eye; Bava Basra 118a people should be careful to avoid the evil eye; Bava Basra 118b one who is from Yosef is not effected by Ayin Hara; Brachos 20a “I come from Yosef who is not effected by Ayin Hara”;

[3] Yalkut Shimoni Mikeitz Remez 148 regarding Yaakov and his sons; Rashi Ki Sisa 30:12; Bamidbar 12:1; Tanchuma Sisa 31 regarding Luchos Rishonos

[4] Admur 303:17; Admur Nizkei Mamon 11; Michaber O.C. 141:6 regarding Aliya of two relatives; See Taz Y.D. 265:11 regarding Mila of two sons simultaneously; Rama E.H. 62:3 regarding not to perform a Chupah for two Chasanim simultaneously; Admur Nizkei Mamon 11 and Michaber C.M. 378:5 regarding staring at another’s field

[5] Bava Metzia 107b

[6] Mamar of Rebbe Rashab [source required]

[7] Halichos Olam Nesiv Ayin Tov 1

[8] Admur Nizkei Mamon 11; Michaber 378:5; Smeh 378:4; Kitzur SHU”A 183:6; Sefer Chassidim 119

[9] Zohar Acharei Mos; Shemiras Hanefesh 246

[10] Ben Ish Chaiy Pinchas 2:13 based on Gemara

[11] Chosen Yeshuos 33:7; See Bava Metzia 107b “99 died as a result of Ayin Hara”

[12] Igros Moshe 3:26 “Ayin Hara is certainly a matter to suspect for, however on these matters the rule is not to contemplate it, as one is not particular on it, Hashem is not particular on him.”; Igros Kodesh 8:154 “One who is not particular, it is not particular with him”; 13:94 “The complete removal of one’s mind from it nullifies it”

[13] Igros Kodesh ibid; See Heichal Menachem 2 p. 91; Hiskashrus 903

[14] See Birkeiy Yosef 141:6 and Yad Ahron 141 that even if one is not Makpid, Ayin Hara still exists; We also Daven every day to save us from Ayin Hara

[15] The Rebbe discussed the concept of Ayin Hara and its power on various occasions: See Toras Menachem 2:187 that it does not have power on concealed miracles; Igros Kodesh 10:280; 18:38; Toras Menachem Reshimos Hayoman p. 316 that the Tzemach Tzedek wore glasses on his forehead to protect him from Ayin Hara; On various occasions the Rebbe said “Beli Ayin Hara”

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