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Ayin hara and Rambam

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Rabbi Ari Shvat

Tevet 28, 5771
Question
Shalom Rabbis, I remember reading (and often see it referenced) that Rambam states that ayin hara is not supernatural but a psychological phenomenon. Can you please tell me where he makes this statement, and where other poskim have made similar statements? Kol Tuv
Answer
Shalom, You are probably referring to the Rambam in Hil. Shchenim (Laws of Neighbors) ch. 3, 6, where the Rambam explains the gmara in Baba Batra 2a-b regarding the damages caused by seeing (Nezek Re’iya), explained by some as “ayin hara”, as harm caused by one seeing that which you don't want him to see, or a lack of privacy, which has a psychological aspect, and is definitely rational. On the other hand, see the Responsa of the Rambam (Lifsia edition, p.12a) where he elaborates and explains that there is another type of damage caused by seeing (Nezek Re’iya), which he calls “eyna bisha”, which could be translated as “evil eye” (Aramaic for ayin hara), and seems like he is referring to the neighbor’s jealousy. The Chatam Sofer relates to a psychological aspect regarding such issues, in the context of the similar Tzva'at R. Yehuda HaChasid where he invokes the Talmud in Pesachim 110b, "He who worries about such things, has what to worry about", (Resp. Chatam Sofer, Ev. H. 116, and Kobetz Teshuvot, 27). With love of Israel, Rav Ari Shvat (Chwat)
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