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I recently studied לך-לך (Lech Lecha) in the Torah class in school and we read the part that G-d says to Abraham that "anyone who curses you will be cursed, and anyone who blesses you will be blessed". This part doesn't just refer to Abraham but to Am Israel. If this is the case, why do Ayin Hara (evil eye) affects us? Shouldn't it bounce back?

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Ayin Hara can be considered as the result of one's flaunting ones good fortune. It can also be considered as the result of an individual having is own judgment reconsidered.

“Evil eye” is known as “ayin hara” in Judaism. It is a real force, mentioned many times in the Talmud and Kabbalistic works (e.g. Talmud Brachot 20a, 55b).

The concept behind it is actually rather straightforward. If we flaunt our blessings and draw undue attention to ourselves, it invokes the jealous notice of others. Drawing such negative attention also draws the notice of the Heavenly court. And it causes our judgment to be revisited: Do we really deserve this blessing which has engendered the ill-will of so many others?

Thus, in the eyes of Judaism, “evil eye” is not some spooky, nebulous force which goes about attacking the unsuspecting. It is a logical phenomenon – and for the most part, the result of our own indiscreet behavior.

The Talmud (Brachot 20b) does observe that one who does not covet what others have is less susceptible to the evil eye himself. He himself does not look askance at others’ blessings. As a result, the jealous stares of others will not affect him. Likewise, Joseph, who refused his master’s wife’s advances and did not covet that which was not his, became immune to the effects of the evil eye – as did his descendants for all time.

Regardless, when things go wrong, our general approach is not to blame it on invisible forces such as the evil eye – although of course we should always be wary of flaunting our blessings. Rather, we should take it as a sign from God to improve our ways. The Talmud writes that when suffering is visited upon us we should examine our ways (Brachot 5a). When things go wrong, our first reaction should be to turn to God and attempt to determine His message for us – as well as praying to Him for illumination. Before blaming our problems on mysterious forces, we look up to Heaven to help us.

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