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 – CXLIII. Bad Eye 101 (3 of 3)


The title clearly indicates that such a defense was not available unless you lived by the seashore. Thus, we could not use it in Cairo, but nonna Bida certainly did not hesitate to use it in Alexandria.

If a bad eye crisis prevailed in uncle Maurice’s household, the manservant was send with a bucket to fetch some seawater. He was to go as deep as he could in the sea to get “pure” water. The whole house was washed with the seawater. (This was not a cleaning operation, obviously the soap will not lather in salt water! It’s strictly meant to ward off the bad eye).

Why go through all that trouble when there are so many other means at your disposal? Say, you’re a soccer player, and you’re part of the defense, do you always use the same moves to defend your territory? Of course, not. The forward players of the opposing team will have a field day with you if they can predict what you’re going to do. The same principle applies here: defend yourself in different ways, do not be predictable.


Boukhour (incense) was used as a last resort since it was a more complicated process.

We had a special clay vessel for that purpose. In it was placed red hot pieces of a special charcoal. To that was added aromatic herbs and crystals, spices, and other ingredients. As far as I know, only nonna Bida had some idea of what was there; the rest of us didn’t know and probably didn’t care. Ultimately, the only person that was in the secret of the gods was the atar.

A atar sells medicinal plants, spices, herbs, ingredients you’ll need for incense, and many other exotic merchandise. If you’re ever in Egypt, betake yourself to a atar, even if you don’t intend to buy anything, but trust me, you will not come out empty handed!

Back to the incense (but not yet the ritual). The atar can provide the ingredients needed by houses of worship for the incense they’ll use. Another use is for special ceremonies such as a zar, after a funeral, and I think even in weddings. As well, boukhour can be used to chase away the cooking and other bad smells in a house; and it’s superior to the sprays used here in North America. Finally, boukhour is used as the ultimate weapon against the evil eye and bad spirits.

When you go to the atar, you have a choice: he can either give you a ready-mix to meet your needs, or you can buy the individual components yourself (whatever your choice, watch for adulteration). The second choice is usually more costly, and chances are you’ll need the professional advice of the atar anyway. And that’s why we always elected to buy the ready-mix even though we didn’t know what was there.

A strong smell of incense is now wafting through the house; the family reunite around the boukhour vessel which itself is placed in the middle of the living room. Each member of the family will go over the vessel 7 times, my grandmother speaks during that process (but I don’t think we say anything). What order was followed? I believe Robert and I went first, followed by my mother, my father, and finally nonna Bida. Why 7 times? It’s a sacred number in Judaism and perhaps other religions (the reason why it’s sacred will not be addressed here).

This ceremony should protect us for a long while against the bad eye.

This ritual can be used in a business place, if it’s believed that it’s been affected by the bad eye.

The story goes that before a long-ago Olympics, the participants went through the boukhour ritual! It is not known if it enhanced their performance! But there is a useful lesson here.

If you’re the coach of, say, a basketball team that is doing poorly, keep in mind that it could be due to the bad eye! In this case, get all the members of the team to jump over incense 7 times! I can’t guarantee you the championship, but I am reasonably sure that performance will improve from that point on!

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