Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ayin Hara

The other day, for whatever reason, I remembered a story a friend of mine told me has happened to her. She was walking somewhere with her grandma and one of her grandmother's friends was walking towards them. When they met up, the guy did the typical "Omigosh, this is your granddaughter? WOW! She is so beautiful! Wow, she really is pretty!" and so on... When he was finished with complementing my friend, he and her granny did some small talk "Oh, so hows your son doing?" and "Hows your leg healing?" and so on...

Then of course they had to part ways. After the guy (grandma's friend) left, my friend's grandma said to her "Scratch your butt" My friend was like "What??" And her grandma was like "yes, quickly scratch your butt" My friend was like "WHAT?" And her grandma was like "if you don't scratch it, I will" And my friend was like "No, I'm not scratching my butt" and her grandma scratched it for her.

Another story, happened to me:


My grandma, sister, cousin and I were in the elevator in my grandma's building. In walks a fellow resident, as well as an acquaintance of my grandmothers. The lady realizes that my cousin, sister and myself must be the grandchildren, and says "Omigosh, they must be your grandchildren! So nice of them to visit their grandma, where's the other one? A boy right?"

So my grandma goes "yea, it is nice of them, the other one is also great, it's just that he is already finished with college, so he has to be at work." The lady smiles, elevator stops, and she gets off. As soon as the elevator door closed my grandma said to us "Make dooly" (which is making a fist and sticking your thumb in between the index and middle fingers). We were like "WHAT?" and my grandma was making them over and over again all around the elevator, she looked ridiculous!! She was like "That lady is evil, don't want her bad vibes on you."

I bet many of you think these stories are absolutely hilarious as well as completely insane. But I ask of you, when it comes to Ayin Hara, is your average "normal" person any better?


Ayin Hara generally makes me skeptical. After all, even by Kabbalistic standards it takes a complete tzaddik to be able to possibly affect you in any Ayin Hara sort of way. And lets face it, there aren't to many tzaddikim now-a-days and any tzaddikim wouldn't go around and give people Ayin Hara. Plus in order for one to be susceptible to Ayin Hara he has to believe in it. Therefore, recognizing you're a nut is simple and the solution to avoiding this occurrence. Giving power to a red string, or a yad, or any other symbol is just as insane as a Russian-granny telling her granddaughter to scratch her butt.

14 comments:

Moshe said...

Wow, don't remember either of my grandmas doing anything this psychotic.
As far as Ayin Hara, learned an interesting thing in gemorah. It says you should do things in odd sets because doing things in even sets attracts demons. At the same time, you shouldn't pay too much attention and make sure you do everything in odd sets because this will also attract demons because they'll see you believe in them.

frumskeptic said...

yes, and saying tehillim at night is terrible because of the sheydim (was told this in HS).

I think frum people are just embarrassed of their superstitions so they come up with excuses as to why they do what they do. lol.

Like if you're afraid of the dark, and you live in the old days, you wouldnt want to sit by the candle saying tehillim for some sick person you never heard of...so u remember about sheydim, and go "u know malkala, i would love to say tehillim for your cousins daughters best freinds sister-in-law, but the sheydin would send the tefillos straight to the satan! and it would lead to a reverse effect!"

frumpunk said...

My grandmas into those hands with eyes in them. But thats as crazy as it gets.
And I've never heard the tehillim at night thing. That sounds too insane for words.

Jessica said...

Scratch your butt. lol. That's a good one.
I have yet to hear of any ayin hara related things that actually seem at all believable...

Rich Perkins said...

To believe in Ayin Hara, you have to believe that hashem will punish you for something nice that someone else said. I don't see how anyone can think that makes sense.

on the topic of weird beliefs, my wife's family thinks that whistling calls sheydim.

Yehudi Hilchati said...

Ayin Hara seems like a holdover from greek philosophy (we don't really have choices in life) and would seem to contradisct free will.

Jessica said...

yehudi - huh? How does believing in ayin hara take away free will? if anything, it gives your words a lot more free will than the average person. your words can change even the good to bad... seems like free will to me. (and no, I do not believe in free will. I agree with Rich, "To believe in Ayin Hara, you have to believe that hashem will punish you for something nice that someone else said. I don't see how anyone can think that makes sense."

ProfK said...

The most my mom resorts to is saying "kan eyin horah" after she says something good about someone or hears something good about someone. It's a reflexive response and I don't think she even realizes she says it automatically. She's more into segulos of all kinds. We grew up knowing that an itchy palm meant that money was going to come your way soon. Hated to break it to her last year but it was plain, garden variety poison ivy in my case.. And it was the doctor who got the money.

The Babysitter said...

Ok those stories were funny but hard to imagine. Ayin Hara is something thats supersticious, unless there's a source somewhere then you don't have to believe in them. We actually had a class about it in sem. I heard that one persons grandmother told her to pull her ear when she sneezed, to remind her that people used to die when they sneezed, and to remind you of the chet chava did when she ate from the tree and didn't listen, so you pull your ear to remind you to listen to what your told. That has a little reason to it, so it makes sense, but I'm not sure if there's a source for it, cause you don't see people pulling their ears after sneezing.

But lets say with not being jealous of someone who's pregnant, cause it might make an ayin hora and she can loose the baby. Even if it doesn't make sense. I would be careful with it, because there's another life at stake theoretically.

Moshe said...

In Japan, they believe that when you sneeze, it means someone is talking about you.

Moshe said...

Here's one all Russian should know, shaking hands across threshold is bad.
Why? Because they used to bury the dead under the threshold and the dead relatives will interfere between you.
If you don't have any relative buried under your threshold, feel free to shake hands.

The Babysitter said...

That's why there's a thing not to walk over a person. Cause when they bury someone, they walk over the dead body. So you don't want to be like a Mais.

frumpunk said...

Most of my ancestors are buried under our thresholds. Saves a fortune on funeral expenses. Cemeteries are just scams. Course my mothers side is all cohanim so we get the added bonus of 50% less relatives dropping by!

mlevin said...

Moshe - I heard that you're not supposed to pass anything over the threshhold, not only handshakes.

And another thing I heard is if you have hickups, that means someone is thinking about you. Cure for hickups: say aloud a name of a person thinking about you and hickups are gone.