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Threads Are Red

The Color of HeavenArtscroll
Topic: Evil Eye, Red Strings as a Protection

Moshe from Silver Spring wrote:
Dear Rabbi,

I have seen some people wearing red threads or strings around their wrist and even necks. Is there any source for this, or is it "superstition?" Thanks..

Aytan Ben-Pelech from Australia wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Recently I was in Jerusalem and when I visited the Kotel I was approached by a woman who tied a red string around my hand and said a blessing. I have asked numerous people for an explanation and I have received just as many different answers. Perhaps you can help.

Name Withheld wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Could you please explain to me the history of the red bendel. I received one recently from a friend that had traveled to the Wall. What does it mean when the bendel falls off your wrist?


Dear Moshe, Aytan Ben-Pelech and Name Withheld,

One of the items necessary for the building of the Holy Sanctuary was red thread. The dye for the red thread came from a type of worm. Rabbi S. R. Hirsch points out that the worm was the lowliest form of life, and yet it was intrinsic to the building of the Sanctuary.

The red string is thought by some to ward off the "evil eye." Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler explains the "evil eye" as follows: If a person is blessed with good fortune and he becomes haughty as a result, this might arouse jealousy in others. In this sense, his good fortune is negative. This calls his good fortune into question and may cause him to be re-judged in Heaven.

The red thread, reminiscent of the lowly worm, can be seen as protection against this. Each time a person looks at the string he is reminded that a person is really as lowly as a worm. This humility is the ultimate weapon against the "evil eye."

Having said that, many great Rabbis frown upon it.

What does it mean when it falls off the wrist? It is an extremely significant sign: It signifies that it was not tied on properly.

Sources:

  • Michtav M'Eliyahu V.4 pp. 5-6


 
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