(c) 2000 Dr Hendel; 1st appeared in Bais Medrash (c) Torah.Org

Date: Wed, 4 Jun 1997 23:49:13 -0400
From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel)
Subject: RE: Segulas

Akiva Miller requests [BM V1#9] a clear distinction between
Segulas and Superstitions. I believe a halachically satisfying
answer can be made by distinguishing between the following 3
related concepts:
     * Embarassment
     * Privacy
     * Anonymity

Let me give examples with halachic sources:

* If I strip someone naked, I have committed a tort and have
   damaged him and am liable to damages (Rambam, Torts, Chap 3)

* If I jointly own property with someone then we can force each
   other to build partitions to preserve our privacy(Neighbors,3)

* If my father gets say Shelishi then it is prohibited to give me
   Revii since people would "talk about us" that we are getting all
   "the aliyahs"--we would sort of lose our "anonymity" and be the
   the "talk of the shule".

Perhaps a summary will clarify this: Halacha protects my right

* not to have my nakedness exposed (since I would be damaged)

* not to have my privacy violated (even if they don't see me

* not to be the "talk of the crowds" even if my privacy is not

Thus I am suggesting that "being exposed" has 3 levels:

* being naked which is a real "damage"
* being exposed to others views constantly (which while not
  a "damage" in the same sense as beating or stripping somebody
  is nevertheless an "understood nuisance" which joint owners
  can coerce each other into paying to avoid)
* being exposed in other people's conversations (being the center
  of attention)--the type of thing that happens when say a family
  gets consecutive aliyahs.

It is my humble contention that when the Shulchan Aruch prohibits
getting multiple Aliyahs because of Ayin Harah that this refers
to "exposure to talk".  I believe that this exposure concept would
account for several (but not all) of the Ayin Harah prohbitions
in the Shulchan Aruch which we follow today. I also believe that
this would distinguish it from "superstition".

I am not claiming this explains all the Ayin Harahs in halachah butit does
explain some. I would be interested if people can come up
with more examples and counterexamples

Russell Jay Hendel, Ph.d,ASA; rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu