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To understand the purpose, necessity, and power of the Red String, you must first understand the force known as ‘Evil Eye.’ Kabbalists refer to it as ayin horeh. In Italy, it’s called malocchio. Arabs pronounce it ayin harsha. The Scottish know it as droch shuil; the Romans dubbed it oculus malus. Whatever you choose to call it, the concept of the Evil Eye goes back thousands of years. The Evil Eye is mentioned in the Bible and is a phenomenon acknowledged by Muslims, Jews, and Christians. The giants of Greek philosophy—Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle— spoke of it as well. Moses wrote about it. Kings, queens, and presidents devised strategies to guard their nations against it. In fact, eye makeup originated in India as a tool to shield people from the negative visual stream caused by the Evil Eye.
The Kabbalists teach that eyes are the window to the soul; of all the orifices of the body, the eyes contain the most direct connection to our pure, Godly essence. Therefore, the eyes are the portal through which we can create and extract the greatest Light or the greatest darkness. It is our choice. There are many layers and nuances to Evil Eye consciousness; it is not embodied by any one thought or feeling. The most extreme form of Evil Eye is hatred, which is often characterized by an utter abandonment or human dignity. When one person looks at another human being with hatred in their heart, they are plagued with Evil Eye, and regardless of whether their hatred is expressed in words or actions, that force of Evil Eye still has the power to penetrate the spiritual shield of the person he or she has ill will towards.
Evil Eye manifests itself in a variety of other forms that may seem less extreme than hatred, but in truth, still carry the power to influence another human’s spiritual and physical wellbeing. When most of us hear the term Evil Eye, we recognize it as a code name for envy—that which ignites feelings of anger and resentment in so many people when they’re confronted with another person’s success or good fortune. Negative speech, particularly gossip, is also part of Evil Eye consciousness as people tend to speak ill of others when they’re in an envious state.
The first instance of Evil Eye in the Torah occurs in Genesis, further elaborating on the subtleties of Evil Eye. The Zohar explains that death came about because the snake was envious of Adam and jealous of the fact that he could not take Eve as his wife; remember, this was a snake that could not only crawl but could also stand up and speak. The Zohar goes on to say that the Evil Eye does not always mean we explicitly wish someone evil; it also refers to the ways in which we judge and assess what others have in relation to ourselves. When we entertain the belief system that some form of lack we experience could and should be fulfilled by having what someone else has, the ego has completely taken control of our consciousness, and we are in a state of Evil Eye. It is so seemingly discrete that it takes a long time to even develop the keenness to be aware of it. The truth is, when something does not come to us exactly when we desire it, it is usually an indication that we have not yet created the vessel to receive it, meaning we have not refined our desire to one that is more based in sharing than it is in purely receiving. Not receiving something can also be a sign there is something even better the Creator intends to give us or the Creator’s timing is simply different than ours, and we need to exert greater patience and trust. A certainty in these things – that all is as it is meant to be, and that what we need will come to us at the perfect time – can assist us in making sure we ourselves never fall into the consciousness of Evil Eye.
Evil Eye is a consciousness we are all vulnerable to, and we can fall into it both consciously and subconsciously. Regardless of how or why we may find ourselves in this state of mind, it is critical to understand the danger and power of this force, as it truly cannot be underestimated. According to the Zohar, the majority of common ailments and misfortunes are attributed to the Evil Eye, as “every person who has the evil eye, has upon him the eye of the Angel of Destruction, who is called the ‘destroyer of the world’…” (Zohar; Noach v.197). Next time you catch yourself looking at another person, starting to entertain negative thoughts, you can ask yourself: do I want to be a destroyer, or do I want to be a creator? Every moment you are able to resist the impulse to indulge thoughts of hatred, envy, or judgement towards others and instead choose thoughts of love, gratitude, and mercy, you create new channels of Light for both yourself and the world.
"See the good in all things so that we may experience the Creator in all things." – Karen Berg
Another important aspect of Evil Eye that Kabbalists urge us to consider is that everything we experience in our external world is a mirror of our internal world. Any Evil Eye we feel we’ve received is a mirror of the Evil Eye we’ve projected onto others. The greatest antidote to the force of Evil Eye is the conscious, consistent effort to view the world with a kind eye. The opposite of Evil Eye is the ability to look at everyone and everything with a desire to find the Light within, to reveal the inherent goodness, and to see the spark of God that exists within all of humanity. When you focus on the good in another person or thing, you enable yourself to experience the good. Therefore, as you will continue to discover, the Red String is not simply a tool for protection against Evil Eye, it’s also a reminder for us, a consciousness check, to transform any judgement into mercy.
Where does the concept of the Red String come from?
The Red String is mentioned as a key tool a few times in the Torah—for example, when Jacob put Red Strings on his children. Also, in the Book of Joshua (chapter 2:18,21), Caleb and Pinchas spy the land of Israel for the last time and reach the house of Rahab. As a token of appreciation, Caleb and Pinchas tell Rahab that she should tie a Red String on her windowsill and when the Israelites conquer the land, they will pass over that house, and her family will be saved. The Kabbalists intention is to decode and make use of any and all tools prescribed in the Torah, whether they are tools we’ve been directed to make use of explicitly or implicitly.
How is the Red String created?
The procedure for imbuing the Red String with consciousness, as developed by the sages of Kabbalah, begins in Israel with the winding of Red String around the tomb of Rachel, one of the matriarchs of the Bible. As a result of her spiritual work and evolution throughout her life, Rachel is now considered by Kabbalists to be the mother of the world, the main source of care and protection to all souls. Rachel’s tomb is encircled while reciting the Ana Beko’ach prayer, which is imbued with the original energy of creation, enabling us to be co-creators in manifesting the protection we seek.
Rachel, wife of Jacob, gave birth after many barren years to two sons, Joseph, and later Benjamin. During the birth of Benjamin, Rachel passed away and was buried on the side of the road between Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the Land of Israel. The Zohar explains that Rachel is buried by herself because, when one is alone, one can truly feel other people. When you are in the company of other people all the time, how can you connect with any one individual deeply? Those who are buried on the side of the road, in an exposed location, enable others to make contact and seek assistance.
It is also written that Rachel is “ . . . weeping for her children . . . ” (Jeremiah 31:14)—for she is our channel for care and concern. We are all Rachel’s children, and when we suffer, she weeps for each of us. It is now easy to understand why we wind the Red String—which brings protection from negative energy—at Rachel’s tomb and nowhere else. A mother’s natural protective love is perhaps the mightiest power in all existence. Only Rachel, with love and with true and infinite caring, has the power to transmit to us all full protection against the Evil Eye and the influence of negative energies.
Red is a frequently mentioned color in the Bible, usually used in connotation with protection against the forces of death and destruction. Red is a significant color for a number of reasons. It has the lowest frequency on the color spectrum, signifying the lowest level of light or extreme negativity. You’re probably wondering, why would you use the most negative color and the lowest frequency of spiritual energy to protect yourself from the forces of negativity?
Think about a polio vaccine or a vaccination against whooping cough or any other dreaded disease. When you receive an inoculation against a particular illness, a weakened strain of the actual disease is integrated into the vaccine. Spiritual immunizations work in much the same way. The color red injected into the wool string is a diluted strain of negative energy. Thus, it vaccinates you from the destructive negative forces of the Evil Eye.
According to Kabbalah, two opposing forces of mercy and judgement permeate the world. In the Zohar, the most ancient Kabbalistic text, the energetic root of every form of matter in the material realm is described, categorizing the entire physical world. The red string is made of wool, which possesses the energy of mercy or protective energy. By dyeing white wool (mercy) with a red color (judgement), you physically create the wiring that converts judgement to mercy or darkness into Light. The color red is also used to attract and impede all forces of judgement streaming from the Evil Eye, binding them to the physical string, so these forces cannot penetrate your physical body or metaphysical aura. When the transformed white wool string converts incoming judgement into mercy, it creates a forcefield of protection for you.
Why is the Red String worn on the left wrist?
Everything in the world is rooted in either positive or negative energy, judgement or mercy, receiving or sharing. According to the sages of Kabbalah, each physical body part is a gateway for a specific type of energy. The left arm and hand pertain to the concept of receiving, while the right arm and hand embody the force of imparting. Consequently, negative forces enter your body’s system through the left side. By wearing the Red String on your left wrist, you intercept, defuse, and convert any negative forces right at the front gate, their precise point of entry.
From a kabbalistic point of view, the left also represents the Desire to Receive, and the consciousness of Evil Eye is rooted specifically in the Desire to Receive for the Self Alone. Therefore, we put the string on the left wrist so that whenever we look at and desire something or someone, the Red String functions as a reminder for us to restrict our Desire to Receive for the Self Alone, converting it into a Desire to Receive for the Sake of Sharing. Practically what does this look like? Instead of seeing something another person has and focusing on our own lack, which usually breeds envy, the Red String can assist us in simply identifying desires we were previously not in touch with and help us to consciously pursue those desires with an intention to share whatever we ultimately receive.
Who should tie the Red String on you? Can you tie it yourself?
It is advisable to ask someone whom you trust, respect, and, ideally, love to tie the Red String for you. You are absolutely welcome to tie the red string yourself; it is simply preferable to have the string tied by someone who loves you, as this injects the process with the energy of loving-care, thus, mirroring the function of the string itself.
Why does the Red String fall off?
The Red String has done its job if it falls off over time, and there’s no reason to panic. It is recommended to get a new Red String tied as soon as possible after one falls off.
How do you tie the Red String?
The Red String is tied in a carefully prescribed sequence of seven knots, signifying both white light (mercy), which contains the seven colors of the rainbow and the seven spiritual worlds. In tying seven knots, you are connecting to the energy of wholeness, unity, and completion, tapping into the full spectrum of energy of the Light of the Creator.
Ben Porat prayer (said before tying the string)
“The Red String is there to remind us the importance of what you think and say about others; to be mindful of your judgement and its profound effects” – Karen Berg
Just before putting on the string, it is recommended to close your eyes and or meditate to set your intentions for using this tool. You may ask the Creator, God, the Universe, whatever you address the divine life force as, to give you the strength and consciousness to always radiate compassion, kindness, and forgiveness toward everyone you meet, and to always feel a deep sense of appreciation for everything you have in your life, right now, so you never cast a jealous eye toward another human being.
בֵּן ben פֹּרָת porat יוֹסֵף yosef בֵּן ben פֹּרָת porat עֲלֵי alei עָיִן ayin בָּנוֹת banot צָעֲדָה tza’ada עֲלֵי alei שׁוּר shur:
הַמַּלְאָךְ hamalach הַגֹּאֵל hago’el אֹתִי oti מִכָּל mikol רָעra יְבָרֵךְ yevarech אֶת et הַנְּעָרִים hane’arim וְיִקָּרֵא veyikare בָהֶם vahem שְׁמִי shmi וְשֵׁם veshem אֲבֹתַי avotai אַבְרָהָם avraham וְיִצְחָק veyitzchak וְיִדְגּוּ veyidgu לָרֹב larov בְּקֶרֶב bekerev הָאָרֶץ ha’aretz ׃
“Yosef is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a well (ayin, lit. eye); whose branches run over the wall.” (Genesis 49:22) “The Angel who has redeemed me from all harm— Bless the lads. In them may my name be recalled, And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, And may they be teeming multitudes upon the earth.” (Genesis 48:16)
The reason we say these two verses is because they relate to protection from Evil Eye, as we find in many places in the Talmud.
Tractate Bava Metzia 84a
The Rabbis said to Rabbi Yoḥanan: Isn’t the Master worried about being harmed by the evil eye by displaying yourself in this manner? Rabbi Yoḥanan said to them: I come from the offspring of Joseph, over whom the evil eye does not have dominion, as it is written: “Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine by a fountain [alei ayin]” (Genesis 49:22); and Rabbi Abbahu says: Do not read the verse as saying: “By a fountain [alei ayin]”; rather, read it as: Those who rise above the evil eye [olei ayin]. Joseph’s descendants are not susceptible to the influence of the evil eye.
Tractate Bava Batra 118b
Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said that a proof for the notion that the evil eye holds no sway over Joseph and his descendants, is from here, Jacob’s blessing of Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh: “The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named in them, and the name of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude [veyidgu] in the midst of the earth” (Genesis 48:16). Veyidgu is related etymologically to the word for fish [dag]. Just as with regard to the fish in the sea, water covers them and the evil eye has no dominion over them, so too, the seed of Joseph, the evil eye has no dominion over them.
Ana BeKo’ach prayer (said while tying the string)
The person tying the string repeats each line of the Ana BeKo’ach (starting with line 1) for each of the seven knots tied. This is not mandatory; rather, it is a tool used to boost the power of the Red String.