Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Above the Eye

By Rabbi Daniel Travis

Yosef is a fruitful branch; a fruitful branch alei ayin – by the well. (Bereshith 49:22)

The words “alei ayin – by the well” – can also be read as “olei ayin – raised above the eye.” Thus the Torah here implies that the “ayin hara” (the adverse effects of being looked upon with evil or harmful intent) would have no effect upon Yosef’s descendents.

Accustomed to modern scientific advancements, it is hard for us to understand how an “evil eye” can cause harm to someone, yet Kabbalistic literature explains that the eye is the most spiritual organ of the body, and as such it has deep metaphysical power. The power of the eye is so awesome that once when Rav was in a cemetery he made the extraordinary statement that ninety-nine percent of its inhabitants were there as a result of ayin hara. Halachah recognizes ayin hara as an actual danger, and therefore it is forbidden to stare enviously at any project a person is involved with.

If someone is afraid of an ayin hara, he should declare, “I am a descendant of Yosef, against whom the ayin hara can wield no power.” Considering that most Jews do not know from which tribe they are descended, how can anyone make this statement honestly? Since Yosef sustained the entire Jewish people for many years in Egypt, he merited to have his name associated with all Jewish people throughout the ages. Therefore it is not sheker for any Jew to make this declaration, even someone who knows that he is not descended from Yosef.

Another precaution to take to avoid an ayin hara is to refrain from praising or showing off any particular quality or item that one possesses. Someone who becomes aware of your good fortune may be jealous or resentful, and this attitude can cause an ayin hara. Because of this very real danger, it is permissible to denigrate something you possess for the sake of avoiding an ayin hara. Although Moshe Rabbeinu’s wife Ziporah was exceedingly beautiful, the Torah refers to her in a most unflattering way, to ward off any potential ayin hara that might otherwise have resulted.


1. Rashi on Bereshith 49:22.

2. Zohar, Vayechi 226:1.

3. Bava Metzia 107b.

4. Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Nizkei Mamon 11. See also Chazon Ish at the beginning of his commentary on Bava Bathra, where he discusses this issue at length.

5. Brachoth 55b.

6. Chidah, Drash l’pi ma’arechet ayin.

7. Rashi on Bamidbar 12:1.


Text Copyright © 2006 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org


 


ARTICLES ON MIKETZ AND CHANUKAH:

View Complete List

Natural Miracles
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5766

The Light of Torah
Rabbi Yosef Kalatzky - 5763

Horns and Hedonism
Rabbi Eliyahu Hoffmann - 5763

ArtScroll

How Extrordinary The Result
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5761

Conversations
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5760

Standing Over the River
Shlomo Katz - 5761

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

Shehechiyanu in Bergen Belsen
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5756

Shedding Light on the Identity Crisis
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5759

At The End
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5762

> The Strong and the Weak
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5767

Thanks for What?
Shlomo Katz - 5774

Estrangement from Siblings - A Kindness?
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5758

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Help Wanted
Rabbi Yissocher Frand - 5762

Chanukah, Chutzpah, and Coming Close to G-d
Rabbi Yehudah Prero - 5757

Sing His Praises
Rabbi Yisroel Ciner - 5761

Achieving Greatness
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5775



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information