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

Date: Tue, 29 Dec 1998 12:36:12 -0500
From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel)
Subject: Re: Ayin Hara

The subject of evil eye has come up recently. I would like to repeat a
theory I put forward in Torah forum about a year ago. I believe it might
shed some light.

1) There are a variety of levels of torts and their consequences.
1a) BREAKING ONES ARM: It is prohibited and I must compensate you
1b) INVADING ONES PRIVACY: I do NOT compensate you if e.g. I peeked thru
your blinds. But you can force me if I am your neighbor to help pay for a
mutual partition between us (Sight tort)
1c) SOCIAL PRIVACY: I contend there is a state of privacy invasion if e.g.
me and my father get consecutive aliyahs. You then become the "talk of the
town"--everyone says "Look how the Hendels are taking over".

True there is no compensation for this damage. But I contend that Chazal
created a tort category--AYIN HARA (Bad noticability) when certain actions
make one TOO NOTICEABLE.  Many AYIN HARA prohibitions can be explained this

The postings in Bais Medrash, Vol 1 number 62 ask about red strings etc. I
agree with those who observed that a literal interpretation is "seeking
signs" and a violation of idolatry. But I think a symbolic interpretation
would be acceptable. "Red" is well known as the color of love. Perhaps the
implication is that if you are becoming too noticeable in the town then one
avenue of solution is to concentrate on your marriage and become a private

It is just an idea but perhaps it has some merit

Russell Jay Hendel phd asa
rhendel @ mcs drexel edu