Staring at another person-The prohibition and potential damage

May one stare at his friend?[1]

It is forbidden to look into another person’s property [even if they are not present there] if there is possibility that the evil eye can damage their property. Thus, for example, one may stand over the field of his friend to stare at it at the time that its crops have grown full. (From here it is learned, that it goes without saying that it is forbidden to look at one’s friend in a way that there is worry that the evil eye can damage him.[2]) [Looking at another person, or his property, with an evil eye, is considered stealing obscured way.[3]]


Explanation & Commentary

The concept of an evil eye is discussed in many areas of Jewish literature, including the Talmud[4], Midrash[5], and Shulchan Aruch[6], and is a real power that can affect another person negatively. In fact, the Talmudic Sage, Rav, stated that he visited a cemetery and discovered that 99% of people die before their time due to the effect of the evil eye that others cast on them.[7] One of the most powerful ways that an evil eye can be transmitted onto another is through sight. When a person looks at another person he is creating a deep subliminal, and subconscious connection between himself and the person. [A modern-day example of such an above the physical connection can be taken from a Bluetooth device, in which it creates an attachment with another device, despite there not being any physical contact between the two, and this connection serves as a bridge to pass information and cause changes in the other device.] In Chassidus it is explained that staring at a person has such power that the person who is being looked at will feel it and turn around to see who is staring at him.[8] The Maharal of Pargue writes that the eye is like a flame thrower, and has ability to burn things that it looks at in a negative way.[9] Thus, it is clear, that the innocent looking stare which seemingly makes no trespass into another person’s privacy, in truth has ability to trespass his privacy in the most intimate of ways, that physical trespassing can never reach. It is for this reason that the Sages and Poskim severely warned against staring at a person in a way that can cause an evil eye to befall him, and one who does so transgress the prohibition of Hezek Reiyah. This practically means, that not only may one not stare at another person and think of him bad and evil thoughts, but he may not even think neutral thoughts that can lead to an evil eye, such as to think about all of his blessings, how rich he is, how beautiful he looks, which often brings a spark of jealousy or judgment. Emphasizing a person’s blessing can cause a reverse effect above, that his blessing be removed.

Avoiding the evil eye:[10] The above concept of an evil eye and its subsequent laws is only applicable to the perpetrator, however, the victim, can avoid the evil eye, even if another person placed it on him. This can be accomplished through completely removing one’s mind from the matter, and not contemplating it. One who contemplates the evil eye, and enters paranoia that people are casting it upon him, causes the damage to befall him. One however who ignores the evil eye, and remains steadfast that it has no true power over him, can deflect any of its damage. [The Rebbe on various occasions discussed the necessity of ignoring the evil eye and removing one’s mind from it.[11] This however does not mean that its potential does not exist, and thus all the above laws brought in Halacha relating to Ayin Hara remain in place.[12] The Rebbe’s message was not that Ayin Hara is not existent and does not have any effect, but that one can protect himself from falling a victim towards it, if he removes his mind from it and gives it no credence.[13]]      


[1] Admur Nizkei Mamon 11; Michaber 378:5; Bava Metiza 107a; Bava Basra 2b

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule there is no prohibition against standing by anotehr person field, and it is only a Midas Chassidus to avoid doing so. [Rambam Shecheinim 2:16 as explained in Maggid Mishneh]

[2] Admur Nizkei Mamon 11; Michaber 378:5; Smeh 378:4; Kitzur SHU”A 183:6

The reason: This is learned from a Kal Vachomer from the fact one may not look at one’s field due to the evil eye. [Admur ibid]

[3] Sefer Chassidim 119

[4] Bava Metzia 30a regarding the object of another; Bava Metzia 42a that blessing is only found on matters concealed from the eyes;  Rav Yehuda Bava Metzia 107a not to purchase fields near the city; Rav Bava Metzia 107b that 99% of people die from the evil eye; Bava Basra 118a people should be careful to avoid the evil eye; Bava Basra 118b one who is from Yosef is not effected by Ayin Hara; Brachos 20a “I come from Yosef who is not effected by Ayin Hara”;

[5] Yalkut Shimoni Mikeitz Remez 148 regarding Yaakov and his sons; Rashi Ki Sisa 30:12; Bamidbar 12:1

[6] Michaber O.C. 141:6 regarding Aliya of two relatives; See Taz Y.D. 265:11 regaridng Mila of two sons simutaneously; Rama E.H. 62:3 regarding not to perform a Chupah for two Chasanim simultaneously; Admur Nizkei Mamon 11; Michaber 378:5 regarding staring at another’s field

[7] Bava Metzia 107b

[8] Mamar of Rebbe Rashab [source required]

[9] Halichos Olam Nesiv Ayin Tov 1

[10] Igros Moshe 3:26 “Ayin Hara is certainly a matter to suspect for, however on these matters the rule is not to contemplate it, as one is not particular on it, Hashem is not particular on him.”; Igros Kodesh 8:154 “One who is not particular, it is not particular with him”; 13:94 “The complete removal of one’s mind from it nullifies it”;

[11] Igros Kodesh ibid; See Heichal Menachem 2 p. 91; Hiskashrus 903

[12] See Birkeiy Yosef 141:6 and Yad Ahron 141 that even if one is not Makpid, Ayin Hara still exists; We also Daven every day to save us from Ayin Hara

[13] The Rebbe discussed the concept of Ayin Hara and its power on various occasions: See Toras Menachem 2:187 that it does not have power on concealed miracles; Igros Kodesh 10:280; 18:38; Toras Menachem Reshimos Hayoman p. 316 that the tzemach tzedek wore glasses on his forehead to protect him from Ayin Hara; On various occasions the Rebbe said “Beli Ayin Hara”

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