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Hebrew Symbols


Hebrew symbols have been preserved for many generations in Jewish history.
Although the Jewish people have been scattered all over the world, every Jewish person was familiar with them.  In most communities Hebrew was not spoken on a daily basis. The use of symbols has played a significant role in bonding Jewish communities from all over the world. Many kinds of Jewish and Hebrew symbols kept the Jewish tradition and culture alive and reaffirmed the collective identity of the Jewish people for more than two thousands years.
Most of the Hebrew symbols are strongly related to the Hebrew language and to Judaism. Since the Jewish religion is both ancient and rich, many Jewish symbols have been used. Most of the symbols were exclusive of Judaism such as the Menorah. Several Jewish symbols were popular among other cultures as well, such as the Hamsa hand or the Star of David. Here I would like to introduce you to prominent Hebrew symbols in the Jewish religion and culture and their meanings. Prominent Hebrew symbols

The Hebrew symbol Chai
One of the best known Hebrew symbols is the 2 letter combination "Chai". The word Chai, spelled by the letters Heth and Bet, is the Hebrew word for life or living. In Gematria, the word Chai equals to the number 18. Generally, 18 is a spiritual number in Judaism. According to popular Jewish customs, bonds for  weddings and Bar mitzvahs are usually given as multiplies of 18. Many Jewish people around the world wear Chai pendants and necklaces around their necks, as it is believed to be a virtue for protection.

The word Chai inscribed on Jewish and Hebrew jewelry accessories demonstrates how Judaism emphasizes and celebrates the sanctity of life. Chai is a very common feature in Hebrew jewelry. Chai pendants are popular gift fors Bar mitzvahs and Bat mitzvahs.

Hebrew symbols drawn from the Hebrew alphabet

The Hebrew symbol Shin which stands for one of God's sacred name
In Jewish tradition, God has many sacred acronyms, which mostly appear in Hebrew. The letter Shin which stands for one of God's acronyms, is often found on mezuzah cases. The letter Shin on mezuzah cases also stands for the Hebrew phrase - Shomer Dlatot Israel, which means - the protector of Israel's gates.There are other Hebrew letters that signify God's scared names, such as letter Heh.

The 72 Names of God
Other names of God are written in the form of three letters sequences and come from the teachings of Kabbalah. These three letter combinations are known as the 72 names of God. Interestingly, no one knows how they should be pronounced (in Hebrew alphabet there are no vowels). The 72 names of God is a common feature in Kabbalah jewelry, and it is believed to draw powerful energies into our lives. Decoded by great Kabbalists, these 72 names are taken out from the bible (book of Numbers).

The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments is one of the dominant Hebrew symbols that are also adopted by
other religions. The Ten Commandments, also known as  Decalogue, have become the central moral code in both Judaism and Christianity. The Ten Commandments are a list of religious and moral imperatives that were given to Moses by God to deliver to the Israelites (Exodus 20: 2-17).

Hebrew symbols drawn from the bible

Shema Yisrael
The words Shema Yisrael is one of the most recognizable signs for Judaism. The Shema Israel prayer is traditionally inscribed on the sacred scroll that is placed in the mezuzah case. The prayer is best known by its first verse that proclaims: " Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One." This declaration of faith is the foundation of the Jewish religion – the belief in one God. Moreover, this words also express ultimate loyalty and love for God: we should accept the same God who brings about the good things in life also brings our misfortunes. During the Holocaust, hundreds of thousands of Jews who were murdered by the Nazis were calling out the words of Shema Yisrael before taking their last breath.

The Book of Psalms
is written as a collection of religious songs that are traditionally believed to have been written by King David. Many Jewish people wear book of Psalms pendants around their neck as a virtue for blessing and protection. Miniature versions of the book of Psalms or famous psalms from this sacred text decorate many Jewish jewelry accessories.   One of the best known psalms recited at Jewish weddings includes the infamous vow : "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither” (137,5-7). Two thousands years ago, the first wave of expatriates Jews took this vow which promises to eternally keep Jerusalem at heart.

More Jewish symbols:

The Star of David
In Hebrew, Star of David is known as Magen David, which means a David's shield or protector. The Hebrew name  points to possible origin of the sign. In Jewish tradition, the six pointed star came from King David's shield. King David's shield was used by King David and his warriors in battlefield, leading his army to great victories. In many cultures, six pointed star has been thought to possess powerful energies and has been used to fight off evil spirits and other negative energies. In the 19th century the Star of David has been adopted by the Zionist movement. In
1948, Star of David was includes in israe's national flag. Today, the Star of David stands at the core of the Jewish culture.

Hamesh hand (Hamsa hand)
A Hamsa hand is one of the most ancient amulets used in modern culture. The symbol has been adopted by diverse communities from different religions who have shared a common understanding of the symbol's meaning - the ability to ward off negative energies. The Hebrew commonly keeps the Semitic name, Hamsa, but it is also known by its alternative names, Hamesh hand (like Hamsa in Arabic , means five), Miriam's hand or the hand of God. Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron has a significant role in the story of Exodus. In traditional Judaism, the Hamesh Hand is believed to help banish evil or any negative energy and bless its owners with luck and good fortune. In Kabbalah,  the five fingers represent the five books of the Torah.

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