The people sound off

How do people in Israel protect themselves from the evil eye?

A ‘key halla,’ which is baked on the Shabbat after Passover and symbolizes the key to livelihood. (photo credit: YOUTUBE)
A ‘key halla,’ which is baked on the Shabbat after Passover and symbolizes the key to livelihood.
(photo credit: YOUTUBE)
Throughout Israel, people protect themselves from the evil eye in various ways, and this is even built into society. For example, in baby stores, shoppers can pick out all the goods they want for a baby, and the store will keep the items for them, as they will not take them home until the baby is born. It’s also against the law for election campaigns to promise segulot (protective or benevolent charms or rituals) or brachot (special blessings).
Here are some thoughts about and experiences with such practices from individuals across the spectrum, sourced from Facebook:
• “I went to this old lady in the Mea She’arim area. She put a towel on my head and cooked up some lead in a pan and read some tefila [prayer], and then she showed me all these eye-shaped lead pieces that came out, which is supposed to be the evil eye people have done to you. The person that is most likely to cause evil eye on a person is the person himself, when you show off. To counter it, it is best to be humble.”
• “I went to the ‘Ayin Hara Lady’ [mentioned above]... not proud but loved it.”
• “My husband’s family members are big believers in the evil eye. They will barely say anything positive about children, not that they look nice, not that they’re smart, so as not to bring too much attention to them.”
• “My mother was looking to marry off her children; I’m assuming that she felt she needed to do something. She read stories about how people lit candles or did other such things and decided to try it for herself. I’d come into the dining room and I’d see five candles lit up, each one in merit of different dead men, for 40 days straight.”
• “I washed my entire Tel Aviv apartment out with sea water [to remove negative energy].”
• “I did 72 consecutive days of prayer at the Western Wall.”
• “I just bought the red string from one of those guys who always wait for tourists by the stairs on the way to the Kotel. I wasn’t really serious about it, though. I liked the idea that it protects me from evil, but I bought it mostly for fun. I would recommend it only for people who can ‘take it easy’ and don’t over-interpret its meaning.”
• “I did wear a red string once, and I remember a friend’s husband told me that by the time it falls off I will know who I’m going to marry. Needless to say, the red string is long gone and I’m still single.”
• “There is a segula of turning over a cup and saying a prayer [in the merit of] Rabbi Meir Baal Ha’nes [Master of Miracles] when something gets lost, and committing to give charity when it’s found. It didn’t help me when I lost my engagement ring, even though I committed to give a hefty charity donation if it was found!”
• “I know a religious woman who believes in the segula thing. She bakes a key into a halla [in honor of the Shabbat after Passover, symbolizing the key to livelihood, which is in God’s hands]; she has been to a particular grave on a consecutive Thursday-Monday-Thursday in the name of a segula; and she lit candles multiple times for 40 days in the merit of dead people.”
• “Not sure if this qualifies but I have my mezuzot checked when something particularly bad or unusual happens.”
• And finally, it was pointed out that in Jerusalem’s Old City, “the six-pointed star (Magen David) was used by Muslims as an apotropaic device to keep demons outside Herod’s Gate, which was kept open all night.”