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From: Russell Hendel <rhendel@saber.towson.edu> Date: Mon, 4 Sep 2000 13:01:54 -0400 (EDT) Subject: RE: The meaning of the evil eye Chaim Shapiro re-asks in Volume 33 Number 32 about the "meaning of 'the evil eye'" a concept that occurs here and there in Jewish law and is used as a justification for prohibiting certain practices. I, in fact have given a very simple rational explanation of this concept: It has been published on the email group Torah Forum (and I believe on Mail Jewish also). Quite simply and succinctly 'evil eye' is a form of DAMAGE. There are 4 forms of prohibited damages: (a) PERSONAL DAMAMGE: It is prohibited for me to eg break my friends hand (EVEN if he gives me permission(Rambam Damages5:11) (b)PROPERTY DAMAMGE: It is prohibited for me to eg break my friends windows UNLESS he asks me to in a particular case (Rambam Damages 5:12). As the Rambam indictes in both these cases there is a requirement to pay for any damages caused. (c) PRIVACY DAMAGE: eg It is prohibited for me to open a window facing my neighbors courtyard. However if the window was already there (when I bought the house) I can use it. Similarly if I "acquire" permission I can use it. Finally, if I do open such a window, then, although my neighbor can force me to close it(because I 'damage his privacy') nevertheless there is no requirement for me to compensate him for the privacy damage caused (eg Rambam Neighbors chapters 3,7). (d) EVIL EYE DAMAGE: My basic thesis is that 'evil eye' refers to specific situations where a person is excessively brought into the communal eye.It is stressful to be placed in the public eye. My suggestion is that The damage caused by the 'public eye' damages is called 'evil eyes'. One simple example might be 'giving a father and son an aliyah one after the other'. Such consecutive aliyahs makes this father-son the 'talk of the shule' & hence is classified as 'evil eye'. Similarly telling everyone you are pregnant before it is noticeable brings you into the 'public eye' and is classified as 'evil eye'. The above explanation is both rational and halachic and does not require reference to hidden forces of uncleanliness. I therefore think it has positive value and can illuminate many sources. Russell Jay Hendel; Phd ASA Dept of Math; Towson Univ Moderator Rashi is Simple http://www.RashiYomi.Com