Kabbalistic overtones

What is the common thread between Demi Moore, Madonna and Britney spears?

This was a question asked on Radio Canada TV news yesterday.

My family is of Italian origin (parents are first-generation American). Babies in my family have been wearing a red string on their arm or pinned to their sweater or carrier for as long as I can remember to ward off the evil eye or “Mal Oche.” Is there a connection to Madonna and other celebrities who follow Kabbalah and wear a red string?

For celebrities like Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, Madonna-and even Madonna’s daughter Lourdes-it has become fashionable to wear a “Kabbalah” bracelet made out of braided red string to protect them from “the unfriendly stare and unkind glances,” as the Kabbalah Centre (where the string sells for $26 a length) puts it. Surprisingly, though, this tradition is not explicitly from Kabbalah. Many Mediterranean cultures wear red to ward off the evil eye. There are biblical traditions associated with a red string as well. Wrapping a red string around the tomb of the matriarch Rachel is supposed to protect women in childbirth. Since Rachel is associated with the Shekhinah (in Kabbalah, the divine presence), there are also some kabbalistic overtones. One nonsupernatural explanation of the string’s power is that it reminds the wearer to bear himself or herself with humility, so as not to attract envy.

This practice is not far with what I knew in Mauritius. I recall in my childhood that some babies wore a red thread too to ward off the bad spirit. Sometimes in the older days a red chilli or a red ribbon was attached to new objects for the same reason.