I would imagine the best way to know if you are getting an evil eye is to walk around with a big mirror and flash it before everyone you meet. If people start dropping dead like flies around you, there’s a good chance they’d wished you bad. Ah, but if only it was so easy to ward of all those ill-intentioned people who seem to be stealing our good luck away. And so, instead, we walk around with red strings, hamsas, little plastic eyeballs and all sorts of amulets meant to keep the devil from our door.
But is it all just superstitious hocus-pocus? The Talmud teaches that one can cause damage just by looking at someone’s property. It also says that 99 out of 100 people die prematurely from the evil eye. But what did the ancient rabbis know? Right? Weren’t they just as susceptible as everyone else to myth, folklore and wives’ tales? But then quantum physics came along with a very interesting theory that may be relevant. Quantum Theory demonstrates that observation affects reality. The mere act of looking at and sizing up a particle changes it. That certainly offers something to think about.
Today it’s easier than ever to be jealous and to give evil eyes. All we have to do is spend an hour on Facebook to eat our hearts out reading people’s status updates. But those who cast evil eyes are not immune from backlash themselves; for the sages also teache that the act of giving an evil eye takes a person out of this world early. And forgive me for having the temerity to offer up my opinion in the shadow of the great Talmudic rabbis, but I say giving an evil eye also makes one so darn ugly. Mean-spiritedness hangs on one’s face like a dreadful accessory that just doesn’t match any outfit. Remember that the filter of poison is not immune to the poison it dishes out. No person is impervious to a daily diet of dioxin.
Yes, we live today in a show-offy society with the ever expanding technological means to brag about everything we accomplish. And then, we drape ourselves in antidote-bling and string to counter the envious slings and arrows we readily invite. I truly wonder if that is a healthy way to live.
So what’s the remedy? I have a few:
First you can avoid looking like the Grinch who stole Christmas, if you exercise being the bigger person and try being happy for people when things go well for them. Instead of being lowly, mean, venomous and back-stabbing like the people of Sodom, a society which begrudged each other the very air they breathed—be magnanimous. The Sodomites were consumed by their burning envy and it is no wonder that they were destroyed by sulfuric fire.
Secondly, be like a fish. In the Talmud it says that fish are resistant to the evil eye because they are under the water—what is hidden is impervious to ill-wishers. What is hidden has a chance to be blessed like a seed that grows beneath the earth. The philosophy of “when you got it, flaunt it” may not be so cost efficient when it all adds up. Perhaps showing off is more a sign of weakness than of strength.
And finally, the best counter to all evil is keeping the commandments, doing good deeds and being good people.
In this week’s Bible reading we see how King Balak sought out Bilaam to curse the Jewish people. And boy oh boy, if looks could kill. But Bilaam was unable to curse them. Why? Because the Jewish nation was behaving properly. The Israelites left no void or crevice for curses to sneak in. As such, those who cursed them would be cursed, and the haters would drown in the deep-end of their own hate.
Kabbalists teach that each act we do creates an angel–either one that serves as our advocate or our prosecutor, depending on our deed or misdeed. And so, the question is: What kind of army of angels are you building for yourself, good ones or bad ones? When the evil eye comes your way, will your own army deservingly stab you in the back or will it stand as a loyal protector and bless those who bless you, curse those who curse you, and escort you safely from strength to strength?