By Barbara Bensoussan
Blei gissen, the technique of pouring lead to nullify ayin ha’ra, the poisonous evil eye, has its source in the Gemara and been practiced for many years. Today, one of its most popular practitioners is Rebbetzin Aidel Miller, a great-granddaughter of Yaakov Yosef Herman, the ba’al hachnasas orchim portrayed by his daughter Ruchama Shain in the well-loved biography All For The Boss (and whose wife was also named Aidel). Rebbetzin Miller is a niece of Rav Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg. She currently lives in Ramat Shlomo and her husband serves as the rosh kollel at Kever Rachel.
Many years ago, a lady she knew through hachnasas kallah activities happened to be at her house and proposed to teach her the technique of blei gissen. “I learned the method and began doing a little bit here and there. . . . When I was a child, my great-grandfather Herman gave me a berachah and told me, ‘You will see what you will see,’ and the result is that I am often able to see things about people. But I also know that I have a great koach of tefilah.”
She was encouraged to pursue blei gissen by Rabbi David Abuhatzeira and Rabbi David Pinto, and especially Rabbi Aderet of Monsey. She also consulted with Rav Moshe Sternbuch, who told her that it isn’t true that ayin ha’ra affects only those people who believe in it. “Ayin ha’ra does exist, and there are methods of removing it. Do we know why these segulahs work? No, no more than we can understand why certain things are decreed in shamayim. But the more you believe that this will help, the more it will help.”
Rebbetzin Miller also delved into other techniques for combating ayin ha’ra. She travels with a suitcase filled with photocopied tefilahs, red strings from Kever Rachel, a bottle of water from the ma’ayan of the Ba’al Shem Tov, and sprigs of ruta, an herb that the Ben Ish Chai was said to always carry in his pockets against ayin ha’ra. She carries a sefer entitled Oleh Ayin, which details how the eye connects to areas of the brain, and another entitled Segulah Shleimah.
Her studies have led her to morphiologia [the inferring of character from facial traits] and palmistry. “The face will eventually reflect what a person feels and thinks,” she says. “A person who is always anxious will develop worry lines, a person who is always frowning will find a frown settling into his expression. People can actually change their faces to a certain extent.” Rebbetzin Miller also laughs with people. “It calms people down, relaxes them.”
“I use a lot of psychology,” she allows. “As I pour the lead and speak to people, I get to know them, and I can give them advice. People feel they are being helped, and they become calmer and more hopeful.”
To perform blei gissen, Rebbetzin Miller takes an ordinary looking pot, places a small bar of lead in it, and begins heating it on the kitchen stove. She gives out a laminated sheet with a tefilah on it to read while the lead melts. She does this in a typical kitchen with foods baking and children walking through. When the tefilah is finished and the lead has melted. Rebbetzin Miller casts a thick, off-white sheet of cloth like a tallis over the person. The molten lead is poured from the saucepan into a pot of cold water above the person’s head as the Rebbetzin speaks softly. The lead crackles and pops as it hits the cold water. The sheet is removed. The lead has fragmented into long pieces that look like silver twigs. If some of them have bulbous ends, the Rebbetzin explains, “Those are eyes. There is some ayin ha’ra. We have to do it over.”
Sometimes a curved piece can emerge that the Rebbetzin says is a “bird,” which signifies an imminent simcha. She repeats the process one more time to make sure all the ayin ha’ra is gone. Then, for good measure, she takes the names of a couple of the person’s family members and pours lead in their names. She concludes by pressing a few red strings from Kever Rachel on the subject along with a sprig of ruta in a tiny plastic bag.
“All segulahs are designed to be a way for us to connect with Hashem. They are a means of getting us to pray, perhaps in a different way that will make a difference. When I pour the lead, I make people read a tefilah to sensitize them to the fact that their yeshuos must come from Hashem. The bottom line is that you always have to daven, and it is ultimately tefilah that will make the difference in our lives.”
The Rabbanit will be in the Five Towns December 13–16, in Monsey December 17–18, Boro Park December 19–23, Queens December 24–26, Williamsburg December 27–28, Lakewood December 31 and January 1, and in Flatbush January 2–4. She can be reached at 718-689-1902.
A version of this article was originally published in Mishpacha Magazine.