The ‘evil eye’ is defined as ‘the ability to bring about evil results by a malicious gaze,’ and it is believed that some humans have possessed the ability to transmit these ‘destructive rays,’ as a result of their discomposure when witnessing other people’s success. (Jacobs, 1999) The ‘evil eye’ has been a matter of discussion since the ‘Talmudic times’ (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/evil-eye-2), and it continues to be an eminently prevalent belief within Jewish communities. This topic is one which many are ambivalent about, as a result of their scepticism towards what could be a superstition, or fact. Furthermore, it is not a universally acknowledged concept, and is somewhat obscure, due to its prevalence in Sephardi communities, as opposed to Ashkenazi communities; however, to those who believe in this notion, it is a profoundly perilous and disconcerting matter, particularly because of its malevolence, and the difficulty of mitigating its malignant intent. As a result, numerous superstitions have derived from it, in order to alleviate and avert its potency- these superstitions vary relative to one’s tradition, as well as their generation, hence the disparity between superstitions in the Talmudic period and the modern period.
Firstly, the extent to which the ‘evil eye’ can have an adverse effect on an individual is limited, therefore diminishing its finite power- those who have acknowledged this know who is not susceptible, and this fact is undisputable, since it is implicitly stated in the Torah, which is a fundamental primary source for Jewish people and it enables them to understand and learn about Judaism. After scrutinising the way in which the ‘evil eye’ is alluded to in the Torah, particularly in Genesis 49:22, it is patently clear that the ‘evil eye’ has an immense power, which has the ability to harm a majority of people; however, this power is restricted. This is evident when it is described that Joseph can have numerous offspring, ‘by a fountain.’ Through Rabbi Abbahu’s suggestion, for one to accurately interpret its implicit denotation, one must interpret this as though Joseph can have numerous offspring ‘above the eye’ as opposed to ‘by the eye.’ This suggests that all of Joseph’s descendants are not liable to be harmed by the evil eye, as it has ‘no dominion’ over the ‘offspring of Joseph,’ as well as the ‘fish in the sea’, as a result of their being obscured by the ‘water’.
Secondly, the way in which the evil eye can harm others, as well its powerful dominance, is extreme, having the ability to maim people and even cause premature deaths, as well as causing other misfortunes- there are a few instances where this is manifest, one of which is found in Babylonian sources. In these sources, a prominent notion is the fact that many sages believe that adversities can be ascribed to the evil eye. One sage in particular