Evil Eye in Judaism – What Does It Mean?


The “evil eye” is one of the most ancient symbols known today. It spans numerous cultures and is universal in what it means. It even has a place in Judaism, notably appearing in both the Talmud and Kabbalah. What is the meaning of the evil eye? That is something we will explore in this article.

The Meaning of the Evil Eye

Also known as Ayin ha-Ra, the Evil Eye is a force that can harm someone or cause them suffering in some way. There is nothing that can’t be affected by the evil eye. Rabbis most often warn that the most frequent harm by the evil eye is jealousy. That is why they recommend avoiding showing off your wealth to others. This means not flaunting what you have, either intentionally or unintentionally. This can help avoid others resenting you and being vehicles for the evil eye.

The oldest recorded instance of the evil eye is recorded on cuneiform clay tablets from 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia. However, it is likely to have existed even before this. All of the Abrahamic religions feature the evil eye, as well as Eastern Buddhist and Hindu cultures. A malevolent glare from someone towards an unaware person is the essence of the evil eye. Since it is unsuspecting, special protective measures were developed to protect people from the evil eye. This would be done to hopefully avoid any misfortune that could potentially come about due to the evil eye.

Evil Eye Origins in Judaism

hamsa meaning

Within he Midrash, there are many instances where rabbis indicate the evil eye was involved in numerous incidents within the Torah. One example they bring up is when Sarah cast the evil eye onto Hagar while she was pregnant, leading to Hagar losing her child through miscarriage. Another example rabbis provide is Leah’s infertility, which they say was caused by the evil eye’s power when she thanked God for being able to have several of Jacob’s sons.

Within the Talmud, rabbis also point to Jacob’s descendants not being susceptible to the evil eye. In Berakhot 55b, there is even a detailed description provided as to the actions someone should take if they fear the evil eye.

In Mishnah Berurah within the Talmud, Jews are encouraged to perform a ritual called Tashlich during Rosh Hashanah involving being within water that contains fish, since fish are said to be unable to be affected by the evil eye.

Finally, one more instance of rabbis giving instruction for evil eye protection can be found in Bava Batra 2b:9, involving being prohibited from standing in someone else’s field and looking at their crops while the grain is standing.

Evil Eye Protection

Throughout history, there have been many ways given to protect oneself and others from the evil eye. During Talmudic times, the evil eye protection that Jews would wear involved something like an evil eye necklace to protect themselves. These days, they usually wear what’s called a chai necklace. This has a charm on it that symbolizes the number 18.

Also, measures are taken to avoid the evil eye being aware of celebrations. One example is the avoidance of double weddings. The speaking of too many blessings is believed to tempt the evil eye. Ashkenazic Jews shorten blessings by saying the phrase “keyn ayen horeh” which means “without the evil eye” and is sometimes shortened even more to “keynahora” by them.

Great lengths are sometimes taken to prevent the evil eye’s damage. Wearing evil eye protection has been something people have been doing for thousands of years, including Jews. Whether it’s an evil eye necklace, an evil eye bracelet, or some other charm, people across many cultures believe in the protective power that comes with these.

Most commonly, mirrors and objects that are either red or blue are used to divert the evil eye away from someone.

Besides wearing evil eye jewelry, some other common techniques used to ward off the evil eye are:

  • Putting a crystal between the eyes
  • Applying a spot of ash or dirt onto a child’s forehead
  • Spitting thrice onto one’s fingers
  • Putting salt in corners of rooms
  • Sticking an iron nail through a lemon

These are just some of the common evil eye protection methods. However, the least messy, and most selected, ones are usually the wearing of an evil eye necklace or an evil eye bracelet.

In Judaism, the Hamsa hand symbol is also frequently used as a way to ward off the evil eye. In fact, sometimes, an eye is placed in the center of the Hamsa to help make protection against the evil eye more effective. The Hamsa projects against all forms of evil glare, making it a symbol that is very popular to wear as a necklace.

As you can see, the evil eye has played a prominent role in Judaism for a long time. Many forms of evil eye protection have arisen over several centuries, with the intention to ward off the evil eye. Today, the most common methods of protecting on self against the evil eye involve wearing jewelry like an evil eye necklace or evil eye bracelet.

Hol sands has beautiful evil eye Jewelry, made of either silver or red leather that you can easily and stylishly wear for evil eye protection. There are also Hamsa hand symbol necklaces with an eye placed in the center, providing a beautiful way to protect yourself from the evil eye. Take a look at our selection of evil eye protection jewelry and choose the ideal one for you!

red string bracelet The original Kabbalah center Red String from Israel Kabbalah Center

Tikun Klali Key Kabbalah Necklace with a Rotating Coin Key of Solomon - Protect from Evil Eye

Evil-Eye-Silver-and-Gold-Necklace-with-Garnet-StoneSilver Spinner Ring with Chrysoberyl gem (Cat's Eye) - ' Ana Be'coach