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schrieb am 2. September 2017 um 11:04 Uhr
"The evil eye
The “evil eye,” one of the most widely feared manifestations of demonic animus, is not always what the term implies; it comprehends two distinct types of supernatural phenomena, only the first of which should properly be so denoted.This superstition affirms that certain baneful potencies are inherent in the “evil” eye itself, that they are natural properties of such eyes. Not a few unfortunate men are born jettatori, shedding rays of destruction about them with every glance, frequently themselves unaware of their dread influence. Some jettatori may be recognized by the peculiar and striking cast of their eyes; others pass unnoticed until sad experience unmasks them. They are to be found in all stations of life. Pope Pius IX, for one, was reputed to be possessed of the evil eye, and the women, while kneeling for his blessing as he passed, would make a counteracting sign under their skirts. This belief arises from the natural reaction of simple people to the arrestingly piercing and vital qualities that often illumine the eyes of men of strong personality, and is a response just as much to the personality as to the eye itself. There are baleful glances, just as there are malevolent men, and the superstitious imagination tends to run away with itself. The second is the type the Germans denote with the words berufen or beschreien. Its root is the pagan conviction that the gods and the spirits are essentially man’s adversaries, that they envy him his joys and his triumphs, and spitefully harry him for the felicities they do not share. “Just as hope never forsakes man in adversity, so fear is his constant companion in good fortune, fear that it may desert him; he apprehends equally the envy of the gods, and the envy of his fellow-men the evil eye.” The attention of the spirit-world is cocked to detect the least word or gesture of commendation. Demons are like men, Menasseh b. Israel wrote; “when a man receives praise in the presence of his enemy, the latter is filled with anger and reveals his discomfiture, for envy consumes his heart like a raging fire, and he cannot contain himself. A glance that expresses approbation is as eloquent as a speech, and just as likely to arouse their malice. Such words and glances, in themselves perhaps innocent, constitute the evil eye, which brings swift persecution in its wake. We may say that this belief is a hypostatization of the evil which man discerns in invidiousness, a translation of a profound poetic truth into the language of superstition. Rabbinic Judaism was acquainted with both aspects of the evil eye. Several rabbis of the Talmud were accredited with the power to turn men into “a heap of bones” with a glance, or to cause whatever their gaze fell upon to burst into flames. But the second aspect was predominant. As has been pointed out by several scholars, the jettatura proper seems to have been introduced into Jewish thought by those Talmudic authorities who came under the influence of the Babylonian environment. The Palestinian sources, and in particular the Mishna, know the evil eye only as an expression of the moral powers of envy and hatred. The Palestinian view prevailed in later Jewish life, though the other was not unknown. In order to counteract the “moral” version of the evil eye it has become customary over a very wide area to append a prophylactic phrase, such as “May the Lord protect thee,” “no evil eye,” “Unbeschrieen,” to every laudatory remark. Medieval Jewry pursued not only this practice, but also the equally well-known device of expressing its approbation in highly unflattering terms: “A man will call his handsome son ‘Ethiop,’ to avoid casting the evil eye upon him,” said Rashi. Any act or condition that in itself may excite the envy of the spirits is subject to the evil eye; taking a census or even estimating the size of a crowd, possession of wealth, performing an act which is normally a source of pride or joy all evoke its pernicious effects. A father leading his child to school for the first time took the precaution to screen him with his cloak. Members of a family were reluctant to follow each other in reciting the blessings over the Torah before a congregation. A double wedding in one household, or indeed, any two simultaneous marriages were avoided for this reason. Even animals and plants were subject to the evil eye; a man who admired his neighbor’s crop was suspected of casting the evil eye upon it.The early Jewish literature was little concerned with the explanation or the theoretical basis of this phenomenon. Even in the Middle Ages speculation on the subject was very much circumscribed, despite the example set by classical and Christian students who devoted much thought to the question whether fascination operates naturally or with the aid of demons. Thomas Aquinas, for example, accepted the explanation that “the eye is affected by the strong imagination of the soul and then corrupts and poisons the atmosphere so that tender bodies coming within its range may be injuriously affected.” Of a similar nature is the opinion of R. Judah Löw, who attained a great reputation as the alleged creator of the Golem of Prague: “Know and understand that the evil eye concentrates within itself the element of fire,” and so flashes forth destruction. On the other hand there is the view of Menasseh b. Israel, previously cited, which reflects Christian opinion, and is matched by the statement in Sefer Ḥasidim, “The angry glance of a man’s eye calls into being an evil angel who speedily takes vengeance on the cause of his wrath.” The same work rings in an interesting innovation on this belief. There are glances that heal, as others harm: “When a wicked man casts the evil eye upon someone, to do him damage . . . a pious man must immediately counteract it by bestowing upon the victim a glance that sheds beneficence. . . . Even if the first man has not expressly uttered a curse, but has merely said, ‘How nice and plump that child is!’ or has regarded him without saying anything, the pious one should bless the child with a glance.”Protection against the evil eye was essentially a matter of repelling the demons and evil spirits and practically all the anti-demonic measures were effective safeguards."
Jewish Magic and Superstition:
A Study in Folk Religion.
by Joshua Trachtenberg
University of Pennsylvania