Author: Yossi Belz

Hamsa

Hamsa (Chamsa) is an ancient charm or amulet that has been brought to us by the worlds most ancient civilizations.   Its origin is Middle East and has meaning for both Muslims and Jews.  Its name comes from Semitic and means a hand.  It does indeed remind the shape of a human hand with two thumbs at both ends making it symmetrical.  The belief in Hamsa’s protective powers against evil eye has been adopted by most modern world, and can be seen decorating many homes and offices and worn as jewelry in many cultures. Judaic Hamsa According to Jewish mystics the Hamsa is believed to protect its owners from evil eye and any negative energy and bless with peace and prosperity, luck and good fortune.  In Hebrew Hamsa is also often referred to as the Hand of Mirriam the great prophetess that lived at the time of  Jewish peoples’ exodus from Egypt, she was the sister of Moshe the greatest prophet of all times. Hamsa Jewelry In the recent years with the growing interest in mysticism and Kabala, Hamsa has regained its popularity.  It has become a widespread custom by the women all over the world to adorn themselves with Hamsa jewelry.  Hamsa’s can be seen on earrings, necklaces, bracelets and rings.  Hamsa jewelry often incorporates a number of motifs that are believed to ward off an evil eye.  Accorging...

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Star of David

The Star of David, Jewish Star, or Magen David means Shield of David. It is one of the most popular Jewish symbols that has been in use at least since Babylonian times. As popular knowledge, it is said that the young Israelite lad, David, who would later become King David, used a shield in this shape when he went to battle. The Star of David has many uses in Kaballah: The six spaces of space plus the center; Up, Down, East, West, South, North and Center. These are also reflected in the seven spiritual building blocks (Sefirot) with which God created the world: Chesed (Kindness), Gevurah (Severity), Tiferet (Harmony), Netzach (Perseverance), Hod (Splendor), Yesod (Foundation) and Malchut (Royalty). Star of David in the Zohar Another kabbalistic meaning is stated in the Zohar: There are three knots connecting one to another, The Holy One, blessed be He, Torah and Israel. One triangle represents this 3 sided connection on an inner dimension, and the second triangle refers to an external demonsion. The essence of the soul connects with Gods essence through the study of Torah and Kabbalah. The external connection to God is through practical application of these studies. The number seven has multiple significance in Judaism for example; The six days of Creation and the seventh day of rest   Buy Star of David You can buy a Star of...

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How to clean a shofar

Congratulations on receiving your new shofar! But what’s this? As you exuberantly lift it to your mouth preparatory to your first blast, you notice, well, a faint (or not so faint) odor emanating from your newest acquisition. When you buy a shofar, please remember that since the shofar comes from an actual real, live animal, there may be some particles of sinew, muscle or bone left inside the shofar which may cause this odor. No fear! Here are some tried and true methods for eliminating shofar odor! How to eliminate shofar odor The best way is to start with the...

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Tzitzit

What are Tzitzit? Tzitzit is the Hebrew word for fringes. In the Jewish world, Tzitzit refers to the tassels worn by observant Jews. It is a positive commandment for Jewish males to wear Tzitzit. They are worn under one’s garments. The Tzitzit are comprised of a cotton or wool rectangle with at least sixteen inches in length and width with a hole in the centre through which one places one’s head in order to don the Tzitzit. On each of the four corners of the rectangle are tassels that have been specially spun. What is the source for wearing Tzitzit? The source is in the Pentateuch, in the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy. “Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: They shall make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garmentsג€¦ And this shall be tzitzit for you, and when you see it, you will remember all the commandments of G-d, and perform them” (Numbers 15:38-39). “You shall make for yourselves twisted threads on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself.” (Deuteronomy 22:12). When are the Tzitzit worn? It is customary to educate boys from the age of three to wear Tzitzit. From then onwards, the Tzitzit are worn every day, throughout the day. As the source in the book of Numbers speaks of, “when you see it,” (“it” referring to...

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Chai

What does Chai stand for in Judaism? Chai is a Hebrew word meaning living. It is made up of two Hebrew letters, Chet and Yud. In the Hebrew alphabet each letter has a numerical value. Chet has a numerical value of eight and Yud has a numerical value of ten. Together, Chet and Yud, in the word Chai make a sum total of eighteen. It is due to this reason that Jewish people have the custom of giving charity in multiples of eighteen. It is said in the prayers of the High Holy Days, during which Jewish people believe that the whole world is judged for the coming year, that repentance, prayer and charity can change a bad decree issued by G-d. It is believed that giving charity on a regular basis protects people from dangerous situations. With all this in mind it is perhaps the association between giving charity and life is more understandable. Where does Chai appear in Jewish Culture? • Firstly, the Torah, the book by which Jewish people lead their lives is referred to as Torat Chayim- the Living Torah- with the root of Chayim also being Chai. The Torah is so called due to the belief that G-d wishes His people to live by His Torah and to bring Him down into their lives in every sphere- be it business, education, personal life and...

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