Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – CXLII. Bad Eye 101 (2 of 3)

Means of protection

This is not a comprehensive list, as you’ve been informed, having left Egypt at 20, my education was not completed!


The simplest way to protect yourself is to use the khamsa. If you meet somebody, and you feel he gave you the bad eye, when he leaves, open your hand wide with your fingers far apart, point your hand in the direction he took, and say khamsa more than once. Khamsa means five in Arabic; but how does the number five protect you? I have no idea! I asked the question on numerous occasions and never got a clear answer. What I do know, is that it (#5) is powerfully expressed by the five fingers of the hand, and by saying it.

But the story doesn’t end there. The khamsa lesson is quite involved.

If you compliment somebody (even your own child), say khamsa 2 or 3 times for the protection of the party concerned. If it’s a child, in addition, feel free to wet with your saliva your index finger, and “draw” a vertical line on his forehead.

Where possible use the number 5. For example, ask for as many 5 as possible when applying for a car plate. Your phone number should have as many 5 as is possible. Not many people had phones, but the ones that had it, dreamed of having the number 55555 (phones had only 5 numbers in those days). The joke was that the phone company could have auctioned that number!

A khamsa can protect your household. Let me describe the one I have (for decoration, not protection): The three middle fingers are close by; on the side are two wing-like tips; there is an area on top that contains an eye, beneath the eye is the word Shadai (one of the names of God) in a circle, and on both sides of the circles are two fishes; at the very top in a semi- circle is the name Jerusalem. If you’re ever in the holy land, you can purchase the same (or different) Khamsa. No doubt, if you’re visiting an Arab country, you will have a variety of khamsa to choose from.


Amulets are pinned to the chest of many Egyptian children; they serve as a protection against bad spirits in addition to warding off the bad eye.

Foreigners considered themselves too well-educated to use amulets. Their safeguard therefore varied. For instance, in my family, we “knew” that the color blue is a good defense; accordingly, we simply pinned on the chest of the child a blue pearl.

To the best of my knowledge, adults seldom use amulets or blue pearls for themselves, it’s reserved for children only.


Many homes had a sabara (cactus) hanging by their door; its role was to take the brunt of a bad eye attack before it “entered” your home.

My mother considered such a practice as primitive, therefore, a sabara never decorated the entrance to our home. Nonna Hélène on the other hand, always had one by her main door.

I do not know what species of cactus was used as a line of defense; an old timer (somebody in her nineties) may know. Whatever the case, this species had an amazing property.

A vicious bad eye attack caused the cactus to “bleed.” Many times, nonna Hélène showed me the blood dripping from her sabara. Eventually, the cactus died and had to be replaced. But better the cactus than the members of the household, right?

I am sure you don’t need a PH.D. in botany to figure out what’s happening here. This poor cactus is drying out and is slowly dying; the “blood” is nothing more than the liquid in the vascular system of the plant; as it happens, this liquid is a deep red and looks like blood. Voila! You have a cactus that can bleed, protect your family, and eventually dies doing so!

Such an explanation was not accepted by true “cactus believers.” For nonna Hélène the “blood” was “proof positive” that the family has possibly skirted a major calamity.

Were other species of cactuses used? Perhaps. But I have to confess my ignorance here.

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