Thursday, May 07, 2009

Today's Talmud Lesson: Evil Eye in Rabbinic Judaism

A Religion of Superstition

The Evil Eye in Rabbinic Judaism
The rabbis gives dissidents and doubters the evil eye and magically transform them into piles of bones

 The Babylonian Talmud relates three rabbinic killings by cursing people with the evil eye. The first is found in Brachot 58a. A supposedly "blind" rabbi --Rabbi Sheishet-- travels to see a king's procession. A dissident challenged the rabbi as follows: "Whole pitchers go to the river; where do broken vessels go?" 

The reference is as follows: Whole pitchers are able to collect water from the river; broken pitchers are useless in this regard. By the same token, it is useless for a blind man to attend a royal pageant for he is unable to see. 

Rabbi Sheishet proved his ability to see the pageant and to delineate between the king's party and the monarch himself. The Talmud relates this sarcastic dissident's fate. Rabbi Sheishet gave him the evil eye and the mocking dissident became a heap of bones. 

The second account of the rabbinic practice of the evil eye appears in the story of the revered Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai, in B.T. Shabbat 33b-34a: After using hate speech against the Romans, an informant recounted the rabbi's words to the officials and Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai was sentenced to death. Forced to conceal himself, he first hid in the house of study. 

When that place was compromised, he lived to a cave with his son, where the pair miraculously lived for years only on water, carob beans and Talmud and Kabbalah study. When the threat from the Romans subsided and Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai was able to come out in the open, he came upon the informant whose testimony had resulted in the Roman death sentence that had forced him into exile. Encountering the informant in a public place, Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai declared: "How is it that he is still alive?" Rabbi Yohai gave this this man the evil eye and the Talmud relates that the informant was instantly reduced to a pile of bones. 

Another account in the Babylonian Talmud, in Bava Batra 75a (also cf. B. Sanhedrin 100a), states that Rabbi Yohanan taught that G-d will one day produce enormous jewels and pearls that will measure 30 cubits by 30 cubits. From these huge precious stones, G-d will cut openings of 10 cubits by 20 cubits and He will place them at the gates of the city of Jerusalem. 

A skeptic laughed at this: "Nowadays we cannot find jewels and pearls that are even the size of an egg or of a small bird; how can stones of such immense proportions ever be found?" 

Time passed and the skeptic was on a ship. There he saw  angels cutting the precious stones as described by Rabbi Yohanan. The skeptic turned to the angels and asked, "For who are you making these?" The angels replied by exactly repeating Rabbi Yohanan's teaching. The skeptic returned to Rabbi Yohanan and exclaimed: "Master, speak! For you are right to speak, since just as you described it, so I have seen it!" 

Rabbi Yohanan was unimpressed by the former doubter's new enthusiasm. The rabbi declared, "You worthless one! Had you not seen it yourself would you have doubted it! You are guilty of mocking the words of the sages." Rabbi Yohanan then cursed the erstwhile skeptic with the evil eye. The skeptic then died and was instantly was transformed into a heap of bones.


2 comments:

James said...

Interesting!

I wonder if there is any connection with the Talmudic evil eye and the one on the dollar bill. It may not have been planned that way, but the "all knowing" eye on the one dollar bill is set within a circle on the left side of the back of the bill while to the right of it is another circle of the exact same size within which we find the so called Star of David. It's almost as if these circles represented two sides of a coin where it's heads you goyem lose and tails we Talmudists win! Of course, they could also serve to represent two wings on the same Judeo-Masonic bird of prey.

JBP

Ton Nuiten, Netherlands. said...

Very interresting article mr. Hoffman. Did You know that these ridiculious storys from the talmud have parallels within the Charismatic movement? What to say, for example, of the strange storys of "teeth, filled with gold" as the story went, a couple a years ago? At that time, belivers within this movement, where convinced that God had filled their back tooths with pure gold during some church services. Someone proclaimed even that God had "etched" a little dove (symbol of the Holy Ghost) on one of his front tooths! This happened al the way back in 1999. Later, it came out (and this was to expected, of course) that it was all bogus! The tale about the so-called "speaking fish wich spoke of the end times" too, what You described in Your newest book "Judaism Discovered", could coming from a Charismatic preacher rather than from the Talmud.


Another similarity is this: In (a part of) the foramentioned movement privails the doctrine that Christians are"little gods." But do not the Talmud teaches the same doctrine with regarding to the Jews? It says that the Jews as a whole, are "God" and has as such the privilege to rule over the "inferior Gentiles." Well, we find the same the same attitude by many of the "local popes" within Charismatic Churches of today. These preachers are, in fact nothing more than "gentle tirants" It are their own rules (tradtions of man) wich they impose on people, rather, than the holy laws of God. In this sense, there is no difference at all between them and the Rabbis. Furthermore: The Talmudic doctrines are materialistic by nature, and are deceptive: it is a Jew allowed, for example, to steal money from a Gentile in a deceptive way. The "prosperity-teachers" too, rid innocent people from their money by means of promoting the false teaching that "if you give money, than God will you give it back hundred-fold." And there are more similaritys between the Talmud & the Charismatic moverment; for short: the same teaching of the Talmud appear (in a little different form) in this movement. So, we can speak about the graduallistic "Talmudisation" of the Church.

In conclusion, I like to thank You for Your great and informative e-mails.