Fascinating how, no matter how secular a Jew may be, there are some things everyone knows.
Like, Jews don’t have baby showers.
Has your Jewish grandmother ever done odd things like spit when someone offers her beautiful grandbaby a compliment? Or say stuff like, “poo poo poo!!” Or tie a red string around the crib?
If so, congrats. You are part of the K9 Hora club. And, uh, no relation to the “hora” that you dance at a bar mitzvah.
Let’s start with some ulpan.
The phrase K9 Hora actually stems from three words smushed together (is smushed a Yiddish word too? When I was little I always thought “smorgasbord” and “farfetched” were Yiddish) – and I’d like to credit my source – a very cute kenohora article right here. And just try to google kenohora – there about 613 ways to spell it.
Which is why I like my way: K9 Hora. It almost looks English.
So the three words are: kein, the Yiddish word for no or negating, ayin, Hebrew for eye, and hara, Hebrew for Evil.
What is an Evil Eye? Are Jews superstitious?? Is God out to get us? Why does Madonna wear a red string?
I’ll tell you.
And on principle, I don’t speak for Madonna.
What’s an Evil Eye?
Jews generally earn the Divine Protection of G-d – by default. Not necessarily because we earn it, but because He loves us. However, there are some ways to invalidate this protection, and one of them is by flaunting our blessings in a way that makes others uncomfortable or envious. In a way that is excessive. Then G-d pulls out His ledgers and checks us out. Audits us. And may very well say: “Hey – if you don’t really deserve your blessings, but no one’s getting hurt… OK. But if your being in-your-face with My gifts, I may have to retract them.”
So this is called the Evil Eye – of other people in our lives, viewing our gifts with a negative eye. Now, if there’s anything smart Jews want to do, it’s protect their assets. So us Jews have gone completely extreme with protecting ourselves from Evil Eye – in some interesting ways.
Like when someone compliments your beautiful granddaughter, to spit and say, “Ew! She’s so ugly!” which is code for “Get your evil eyes far away from me!”
This is not really my way.
The Torah states that if you buy into being victim to this whole dynamic, you will, indeed become susceptible to it. And if you don’t, if you trust G-d, act normal, don’t flaunt your blessings, and share your goodness with others, you will continue to merit G-d’s Divine Protection.
It’s might seem easier, though, to just omit the baby shower, hang up a hamsa, wear a red string. But those are shortcuts – not accessing the real state of faith that offers protection from the Evil Eye.
By the way, this is also why some people won’t share news of a pregnancy till it’s obvious or say how many kids or grandkids they have, and why some will otherwise downplay their blessings.
Me, I prefer to say “Thank G-d.” It’s positive – and focuses on my gratitude. With Divine assistance, this will be the protection I need.