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Roiteh bendel, pronounced ROYtih BENdil, is Yiddish for "red string". This traditional Jewish segulah, or talisman, consists of a thin red string worn tied around one's left wrist. The string can be worn all the time, but is considered especially neccessary for vulnerable people or at vulnerable, celebratory times- i.e. when things are good, and one is afraid of change for the worse. So, the string is most commonly worn by babies, bar mitzvah boys, and brides and grooms.

This superstition may have arisen from the Bible's description of both Esau and David as having red, ruddy complexion. The string functions to ward off the Ayin Harah, Hebrew for "evil eye", a sinister force that can be transmitted by jealous neighbors as well as spiritual beings. It has been suggested by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov that the red string serves firstly to "absorb" any evil eye within the immediate environment, the evil eye being the typical weapon used by Esau, and secondly to remind the wearer to emulate David and only look at others with a good eye.

The roiteh bendel is only considered efficacious if it has been cut from a larger string or rope which has been carried 7 times around Rachel's Tomb, outside of Bethlehem in Israel. Rachel is traditionally regarded as a maternal protector of the exiled Jews; this depiction first arises in Jeremiah 31:15, "A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more." These strings are sold for about 25 cents within Israel. Outside of Israel, where there is never any verification that the strings have even been near Rachel's tomb, they can go for $20. Bogus and not so bogus Jewish charities often give out roiteh bendels to their contributors, much the same way that public television stations give out tote bags.

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