This is the word I say whenever I think things are going well. It’s a basic Jewish tradition to avoid tempting fate.

If I hear myself saying, “no one I know has died this year,” I immediately say kinehora or I know–I mean I KNOW–I’ll get a call from a cousin or friend about a funeral. I use it most often when I hear myself even mildly boasting. Not smart. You know, G_d will get you. (That’s another tradition, by the way–never writing or saying G_d’s name in full.)

Kinehora roughly translates to “no evil eye”–and the wisdom to protect against the evil eye is found in most cultures. Maybe you say “knock on wood” or toss a bit of salt over your left shoulder if you spill salt (but also if you tempt fate). An old Italian lady I knew spit every time she told someone about how well her grandchildren were doing.

You may think of this as superstition, but I think of it as a simple antidote to hubris, to taking anything for granted, and to thinking that a mere mortal really has any power over the force of nature or any other higher power.

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