Friday, August 19, 2011

Evil Eye III: Getting Medieval on Your Tuchis

Inspired by Talmudic and popular concern with the ʿayin ha-ra, both medieval midrashim and the systematic exegetes identify the presence of the evil eye at work in numerous biblical passages.

["The Evil Eye rules over counting." Former governor Sarah Palin gives one at the Iowa Straw Poll - is this one aimed at Rick Perry?]

Of all the commentators, the French exegete RaSHI gives the most attention to the ʿāyin hārā, but he is largely content to repeat and amplify rabbinic exegesis on the eye in the Abraham and Joseph cycles (Gen 16:5; 42:5), in the Balaam saga (Num 24:2), and in the conflict between David and Saul (I Sam 18:9). Yet occasionally he finds the eye present in previously overlooked narratives of the TaNaKH. The chief example is his comment that the plague that followed David’s census was a manifestation of the eye, for “…the evil eye rules over counting.” (Comment to Ex 30:11, c.f. I Sam 24:1). This idea took deep roots in Jewish consciousness, creating an aversion to counting people that persists into contemporary times.

The theme of counting related to the eye is further explored the Zohar (II:105a), though, all in all, the ʿayin ha-ra it is not a significant topic in the major works of theosophical Kabbalah. References more commonly appear in Hebrew magical literature of the period, such as Sefer haRaziel and Havdalah deRabbi Akiba.

Next Entry: The Evil Eye and Jewish law

Zal g'mor - To learn more consult the Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism: http://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Jewish-Myth-Magic-Mysticism/dp/0738709050


Blogger Maggid said...

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE This post.
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Thank you
again & again,

10:52 AM  
Anonymous e2 said...

i wonder if B'nei Menashe or Bene Ephraim of South Asia experience the strange phenomenon of non-Asians suddenly buying lotto tickets when East Asian patrons appear at the deli.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Geoffrey Dennis said...

I have no idea what e2 is saying, though I assume it's funny. Don't explain - a joke, like an esoteric teaching, loses its force when it has to be explained. Its good to have yet another occult secret on the blog.

2:54 PM  

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