The Evil Eye Remover

Worldly Problems Deserve an Otherworldly Response — for $101

Kurt Hoffman

By Ruchama King Feuerman

Published August 12, 2013, issue of August 16, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 5)

I introduced myself. “How does this work?” I asked, hinting at the price. “You can send me a check for $101,” she said.

I reeled. That was a lot. This wasn’t just a lark or caper, something I could joke about afterward with friends. It meant that I had bought something or bought into something, a whole ideology. I hesitated. “Well,” I thought. “If that was the going rate for spirits to leave, nowadays….” I took down her address.

Before she started her procedure — blay gisn, it’s called in Yiddish — she asked for my Hebrew name and my mother’s name.

My mother’s name is Rachel. My name was a different story. I had at least four names, actually, given to me at different times by people who inadvertently made a big mess of things. To give you an idea, the first Sabbath after I was born, my father, who was not an observant man at the time, stumbled into a synagogue, of I don’t know which denomination, in Nashville, Tenn., and told the men that he wanted to name his daughter Yishayahu Falk. According to family lore, he was calmly told that this was a man’s name and unsuitable. The synagogue congregants promptly gave a name they thought was suitable, but my father, who was completely unfamiliar with the Hebrew language, could not remember it. And so…. The ayin-hore lady cut through the clutter. “Your name is Ruchama, daughter of Rachel,” she pronounced.

There was a sound of pots and pans clattering. I asked what she was doing. “Heating lead on the stove,” she explained.

I felt a little shock. How medieval. But what did I expect? I was entering Grandma Estrella’s realm now, an overwrought, superstitious world I had sworn I wanted no part of. Okay, but when everything’s falling apart, you sometimes have to reach for the irrational.

I heard men’s voices in the background, people coming in and out, doors slamming, voices calling out friendly rabbinic greetings in Hebrew and Yiddish. There seemed to be a yeshiva in her house, men who had arrived in time for supper. The ayin-hore lady made casual conversation with her visitors and with me. She projected no aura whatsoever. I liked her plain speech.

More pan movements. “What now?” I said.

“I’m pouring the melted lead into another pan with cold water,” she replied; then she went quiet. I got the feeling she was praying. Or maybe she was really making supper? Who could really know? Maybe there was a bunch of pots lined up on her counter, each needing its own ayin-hore treatment. Better not mix up the pots, I thought.

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love.
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.