If you watch Oprah you know about The Secret, the notion that like attracts like and thinking makes it so. If you’ve been reading this blog you know that The Secret is both scientifically false (the Law of Attraction states that opposites attract, not likes), and morally repulsive, blaming the victim of evil for the existence of evil.
Having demolished the false secret let me reveal to you the true secret. I learned the real secret from my bubbe, my father’s mother. Bubbe came to America from Russia. She epitomized the Old World Jew. While deeply versed in Jewish ritual and holy days, and running a strictly kosher household and life, the entirety of her theology could be reduced to a single concept: Ayin haRah, the Evil Eye.
Without knowing anything about science, my bubbe lived by the scientific Law of Attraction. She knew that opposites attract; and while she was disinclined to speak harshly of anyone, she was even more wary of speaking well of someone for fear of attracting The Evil Eye.
According to the Law of Attraction as understood from the perspective of Ayin haRah, if someone says, “Oh what a beautiful baby!” the baby will come down with the pox. If someone says, “Mazal tov on your new job!” you will be laid off in a matter of weeks. If someone says, “You sing like a dove!” you will get cancer of the larynx. Good attracts evil. It is a law of nature.
Warding off the Evil Eye is a full time and somewhat messy job. Battling the Evil Eye requires spitting; not a huge glob of mucus, mind you, but three staccato flicks of your tongue between your lips to make an audible sound similar to a wet snowball striking a brick wall. The spitting is preceded by a defensive spell, “K’Ayin haRah” in Hebrew or “K’nehorah!” in the Yiddish preferred by my bubbe. Both phrases mean “Against the Evil Eye.” Say this, spit three times, and the Eye is warded off— for a while. But stay on guard, for the Law of Attraction is eternal, and every positive thought, word, or deed can bring on the Evil Eye yet again.
Warding off the Evil Eye works. Here are two of many testimonials I have heard:
Moshe Gross was an executive with a California dotcom. At an important strategy meeting he sought to defend a particularly good idea by casting a K’nehorah and spitting three times. This being California rather than Chelm, Moshe was given a generous severance package and fired. Three weeks latter the company collapsed and people lost everything.
Malkah Frankl was a shoe-in for winning the Queen Esther Beauty Pageant at her day school, when, just to make sure, her mother spit three times and accidentally blinded the judge who went on to choose some other girl. Malkah went home crying, but her classmates stayed for the party, ate spinach contaminated with e coli, and fell deathly ill.
Think what you like about the Yiddishe Secret, but have a good day. K’nehorah! Feh, feh, feh!