Okay, if you know the Torah portion is Vayekhel, which describes the textiles and crafting of the Tabernacle, you've read the title and thought to yourself, "Whaaaaaaat?" "Where's the Evil Eye in the Torah?"
I'm glad you asked!
First, let's back up and look at the Ten Commandments, or literally, Ten Words. One commandment that receives very little attention is "Do not Covet." Think about it, though. If covetousness can be nipped in the bud, then it can take the steam out of breaking some other commandments, such as Do Not Commit Adultery or Do Not Steal. Maybe these Torah portions have more in common than we think.
Following the Ten Words, a most beautiful description of the textiles and beautiful silver and gold vessels of the Tabernacles appears in Vayekhel, "And Assembled." Whatever the theme of the portion, it will relate in some way to how the Tabernacle was assembled and is still being assembled. If we can figure out what made the assembly successful in the wilderness, then perhaps we can figure out why we are so UNsuccessful in our generation.
Granted, the Holy One had to bring His People out before He could form them together with like kind and like mind, but formation within the Hebrew Roots/Messianic communities frequently runs in the other direction. Controversy is roadblocking the work of the Ruach HaKodesh on every continent. This Torah portion teaches the generosity of heart that MUST precede any formation of the beautiful things that make up the Mishkan, the Tabernacle where the Shekinah dwelled among Israel.
There are two important passages in Vayekhel: one passage describes the beautiful things donated to the Mishkan and the generosity of those who brought them. They brought so much, in fact, that Moses finally appealed to them to stop donating! There was more than enough! When's the last time an assembly or ministry had "more than enough" to meet the needs of everyone in the assembly or to proclaim the Good News of Yeshua and the Torah?
The other passage is a detailed description of the menorah with all its cups, petals, and one-piece-of-beaten-gold structure. The almond blossoms proclaim that the menorah is something that "watches" over Israel, for the root of almond, shakad, means "to watch over." Within the menorah is a symbol of the fruit of the Spirit and the Spirit (Ruach) itself that will watch over the Mishkan and Israel. After all, the Holy One ordered Moses to build a Mishkan "so that I may dwell among them," "them" being Israel, the people. By assembling the Mishkan, and by making it the focal point of daily, Shabbat, and Moed sacrifices, the Father assembled His children.
What can we conclude from these two passages other than generosity and watchfulness are part of the foundation of a healthy, Spirit-filled community? What if the obverse is true?
- Stinginess impedes the formation of healthy, Spirit-filled Israel.
- Lack of Spirit-filled watchfulness impedes the formation of healthy, Spirit-filled Israel.
Well, there's an answer to our formation question. Lack of formation among Torah-keepers can be traced to the roots of sleepy stinginess. Yeshua taught this in three of four Gospels, so it must be important, and maybe it explains why so many pagan cultures are fixated on "The Evil Eye." It really is a thing, but for disciples of Yeshua, the Torah and the Gospels tell us how to "Word-off" the Evil Eye, which is related to covetousness prohibited by the Ten Words.
To covet (chamad) means to delight in beauty, greatly beloved, covet, a delectable thing. To covet something is to be attracted to its desirable, beloved, and delectable qualities. Haven't we all coveted something desirable? The difference is that we desire something delectable that is forbidden to because it belongs to someone else.
The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil came to Eve's notice because it was "nechmad," delightful. On the other hand, so were the other trees that were permitted! The difference? Regardless of its delightfulness, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil did not belong to the Adams Family (Yeah, I just wanted to see if you were still reading).
Coveting is to delight in something that is prohibited because it belongs to someone else. While what belongs to someone else may be delightful, the line is crossed when one determines to possess it. If we become obsessed with something that is not ours, that is one of the Big Ten, covetousness. This is not a generous eye, but an Evil Eye. Yeshua taught of this in both Matthew and Luke, and he relates this Evil Eye to the watchfulness of the menorah and a faithful heart. More specifically, a heart that does not worry about food, drink, or clothing...tomorrow.
For the Israelites, the Father had proven that He would daily give them food and water, and He would make sure their clothes were nicely laundered and pressed when they awoke each morning, and their sandals were polished and shined (Yes, that's a hyperbole. I'm still making sure you're with me). There was no reason to hold back on their gifts to the build the Mishkan because they had no fear of tomorrow. The Father would provide each day what was needed, so they could give freely, and this Torah portion is one of the few shining examples of Israel's faithfulness. This is how we assemble, with no worry for what we will eat tomorrow when He's provided every single day up until now!
Only an Israelite who does not trust the Father to provide the basics that a husband must give his wife, food, shelter, clothing, and intimate time, would refuse to give or to give sparingly. Failing to assemble and contribute toward the common goal of worship and inviting the Presence of Adonai into our homes is a failure of faith. Nothing beautiful can be formed from an Evil Eye that covets more than what the Father supplies.
What might we covet?
- Another person's position or ministry.
- The praise and worship choices we had in the last church we attended.
- The incredible scholarship of the Jewish rabbis through thousands of years.
The list could go on and on. But WHY are we coveting? Because we see that it's delightful, that it's not ours (yet), and we are worried about what we will have or who we will be tomorrow. Yeshua gives the root cause of the disease known as The Evil Eye and the antidote. The Evil in Evil Eye comes from Strong's G4190:
evil (51x), wicked (10x), wicked one (6x), evil things (2x)
Matthew 6:16-34 is broken into "Contrast" verses (16-24) and a chiasm in (25-31):
16 "Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. >>>
17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 18 so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. >>>
20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 "The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. >>>
23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24 "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
25 "For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life [food]?
28 And why are you worried about clothing?
Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!
31 Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?'
32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. >>>33
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 "So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Just as the Israelites could not hoard manna, so Yeshua says not to worry about tomorrow. The Father will supply food, drink, and clothing even more glorious than the food, drink, and clothing that you are coveting! What we see and covet on advertisements and in stores doesn't hold a menorah candle to what the Father has in store for us. The root cause of this Evil Eye?
You don't have to be rich or successful to be a covetous person. You don't have to be poor. All you have to do is worry excessively about things that the Father has already provided until today. Covetousness comes from worry, and worry comes from lack of faith. A poor bunch of slaves left Egypt, and they raised the Mishkan with the sudden wealth they were given. They did not hoard for trading, a rainy day, or "when we get there," but they gave so much that Moses essentially says, "Please, stop! You can't be this full of faith!"
In another passage, Yeshua connects the Evil Eye contextually with demons, which is also recognized by pagan religions. Okay, now there is another long reading passage, but you need to read it all for the FULL context:
Luke 11:14 And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute; when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed. 15 But some of them said, "He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons." 16 Others, to test Him, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven. 17 But He knew their thoughts and said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls. 18 If Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19 And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your sons cast them out? So they will be your judges. 20 But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21
When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are undisturbed. 22 But when someone stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him, he takes away from him all his armor on which he had relied and distributes his plunder. 23 He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.
24 "When the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and not finding any, it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' 25 And when it comes, it finds it swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and takes along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first."
27 While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him,
"Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed." 28 But He said, "On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it."
29 As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, "This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah. 30 For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31 The Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.
"No one, after lighting a lamp, puts it away in a cellar nor under a basket, but on the lampstand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. 35 Then watch out that the light in you is not darkness. 36 If therefore your whole body is full of light, with no dark part in it, it will be wholly illumined, as when the lamp illumines you with its rays."
The Evil Eye is a real thing associated with giving demons a foothold. Its antidotes are the watchful armor of the light (Spirit) of the menorah and hearing and doing the Word with the power of the Ruach HaKodesh without worry. The Torah is a Light, and the commandment is a Lamp. Yeshua says being a nursing child in the Word is NOT to be preferred over the maturity of a believer who hears and does it! The Father has mercy, but we must grow up in the Word.
That's it. Yeshua teaches his disciples to Word-off the Evil Eye. No need to burn herbs and fill the house with smoke. No need for hamsa hands or other magic charms. No need to "bind the Strong Man" (that's actually binding the wrong thing).
Watch over your heart to perform the Word, and you will give demons and unclean spirits no foothold. Faithfulness, watchfulness, and contentment with what the Father has given us keeps the door firmly locked, for we are the Strong Man who guards and watches over our Mishkan with diligence and zeal for the assembly of Adonai.
So how can we grow up in the Word and apply Yeshua's teaching with Vayekhel?
First of all, practice modesty. Not just in dress, but in every area of your life. Yeshua teaches that we should not do things for people to notice, but for the Father to notice. People can have evil, covetous eyes, but not the Father.
There were barriers, levels, curtains, boards, and veils in the Mishkan for a reason. Put your life on display for the world on social media, and you'll be exposing parts of your life to strangers who have no business in those private, holy spaces that the Ruach is making beautiful. You'd never let a total stranger just walk in your house and take a look around, so why do we make public the intimate details of our lives to the friend of a friend of a friend or total strangers? Cover yourself, your Mishkan, so that you do not provoke covetousness in others. As Yeshua said, don't do things to be elicit notice. Limit your more intimate life details to only trusted, holy people who will not covet what you have, but rejoice with you.
1. Don't worry. "I've never seen a righteous man forsaken, nor his children begging bread." If the Father has brought you out of something to gather you and form you into His work in this generation, then stop comparing what you have to what you don't have.
2. Bring your best. An Evil Eye is not just being stingy, but worrying that you won't have enough and wanting something that the Father has not given you. Bring the best of what He HAS given you.
3. Be watchful in the Ruach HaKodesh. If your Torah Light is love, joy, peace, gentleness, etc., then your light is not darkness. Controversy is not honest exchange of ideas for the purpose of learning. It is the chaos of unhappiness with what one has and a desire to compete for more. Avoid this foolishness, for this light is darkness. Don't share your personal life with such people.
The one trying to have the last word is rarely walking in the Word.