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April 7, 2016 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Tazria

This week’s Torah portion is about various skin diseases.  Since the Talmud blames some of these diseases on the victim’s sins, Arama goes into a long discussion of various good and bad qualities of people.

He mentions a statement in the Mishnah praising a rabbi who had a “benevolent eye” and uses that as a jumping-off point to discuss a concept that I’ve never quite understood: the “evil eye.”

Arama (well, really Munk interpreting Arama as always) writes “[God] commanded Moses to make sure no one would be around to give him an ‘evil eye’ [on Mt. Sinai]… The essential damage caused by this evil eye is due to the character deficiency of the viewer who infects everything he sees with his own disease.  Therefore, such people, especially when full of hatred, reinforce the damage that their look can cause.”  He adds that a “benevolent eye” is an important quality and that one should pray for this “characer trait of the … positive attitude to all that he sees around him.”

So it seems to me that according to Arama, an evil eye is not a supernatural power, but a general malevolence, a negative attitude towards all.   He isn’t saying anything unusual here- except that I’ve seen the term used in a more superstitious context, and Arama is trying to defang superstition by reference to the Mishnah.

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One Comment

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  1. Shira Salamone / Apr 8 2016 10:52 am

    Defanging superstition is an excellent idea.

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