Much has been said about the Jewish people’s special affinity to its magnificent traditions, traditions that it has kept faithfully for over 4000 years. As appropriate for the Chosen People, the people who first discovered monotheism and spread the concept of one God across the world, the Jewish people have been blessed with many, many religious and holy writings and symbols.
Throughout the thousands of years of its existence, the Jewish people have carefully preserved their writings and symbols for the benefit of future generations. Apart from the fact that the Jews have always been proud of their ancient faith and traditions, they have always taken with them symbols that attest to their faith and their Judaism.
One such symbol is Kabbalah Jewelry. This is jewelry that includes verses and blessings from Hebrew Holy scriptures, coded secrets taken from books of the Kabbalah (such as “Sepher HaYitzirah” for example) that decipher the secrets of the universe and symbols associated with Judaism (the Star of David, the Hamsa and others). By wearing this jewelry, Jews connect to the ancient tradition that binds them together and enjoy the multiple blessings that the jewelry brings with it whilst also emphasizing their faith and their Judaism for all to see.
Jews have been wearing, in one form or another, symbols from their religion and faith to declare their belief in God and his commandments and as being members of the Chosen People. Indeed, in the Bible, holy jewelry to be worn by the high priest, the Hosen, is described in detail.
It is difficult to place a date on the appearance of the first Kabbalah jewelry. However, since the Kabbalah places such a great emphasis on symbols and metaphysical ways of describing the Universe and God’s Creation, it is safe to assume that Kabbalah jewelry was being produced and worn from time immemorial.
The Zohar, the foundational collection of works of the Kabbalah mentions the use of jewelry in a number of places and these could well be the earliest known references to Kabbalah jewelry.
And so we arrive at the present…
Today also, many people wear Kabbalah jewelry. This may be a fashion statement, especially as so many celebrities have been enthused with the fire of the Kabbalah and are always seen in public wearing these famous Jewish symbols.
However, in the darker days of human history, the Jews were forced to hide their Judaism because of religious persecution. During those dark days, Jews were forbidden to wear Kabbalah jewelry in public. It was specifically forbidden or they were simply afraid for their lives in the hostile environment of the Diaspora. But, despite the prohibition and the fear, even when they were forced to hide their origins, the Jews refused to give up their holy traditions. They strived to continue to benefit from the blessings inherent in those same holy verses and always maintained their special connection as the Chosen People with God. As a result, they refused to stop wearing Kabbalah jewelry.
How did they do this without risking their lives?
One of the reasons for the survival of the Jewish people throughout its harsh history can be found in its ability to adapt to the most difficult situations. Even when the Jews were forced to hide their Judaism in public, the Jewish brain managed to find a solution. One of the ways they devised to continue wearing Kabbalah jewelry without being identified as Jews was through the use of numerology. The Hebrew prayers and blessing and even some of the symbols associated with Judaism, were replaced by numbers. Thus, for example, the number 5 replaced the well-known Hamsa. According to Jewish tradition the 5 fingers of the Hamsa symbolize the 5 Books of Moses, the Pentateuch and the Hamsa itself is used as a good luck charm and even as protection from the Evil Eye. So we see that jewelry (and this means all jewelry – pendants, rings, bracelets and earrings) with the number 5 and jewelry made in the shape of the number 5, were not an unusual sight in the days when Jews were unable to wear the traditional Hamsa.
The People of Israel live!
One of the most important and significant words in Judaism is “Chai” which means “life”. According to Jewish tradition, the word “Chai” has the power to bring long life. This is a good reason for wearing jewelry with the word “Chai”. In numerology “Chai” equals 18. In those darks days when Jews were forced to hide their religion, the number 18 was a popular theme for much jewelry worn by the Chosen People in the Diaspora.
One of the most important prayers in Judaism, if not the most important, is “Shema Yisrael”. In this prayer, the Jewish worshipper declares that the Lord God is the only God of the Jewish people. The prayer is so important that the observant Jew is required to recite it three times a day: during morning prayers (shacharit), evening prayers (Aravit) and before retiring for the night. Jews also recite holy verse from “Shema Yisrael, “Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one” when faced with life threatening situations. This prayer was recited by Moses to the People of Israel before they entered the Land of Canaan. The “Shema Yisrael” prayer contains within it many attributes including the blessing for long life. As it is written in Deuteronomy 11:21: “that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, upon the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers to give them…”, many Jews who refused to bow down to the dictates of their harsh reality and who wanted to wear jewelry with this holy passage, instead used its numerological value, 951, on their jewelry.
The secrets of numerology
As already said, numerology was one of the ways that the Jews were able to wear kabbalah jewelry without revealing their Judaism. Yet another way of wearing Kabbalah jewelry without revealing the Hebrew letters that were an integral part of it, was to wear a hollow pendant that held a rolled up blessing or prayer which was, for the most part, written on parchment. These pendants were made from different materials and in a variety of designs so as to disguise the fact that they contained a text that connected the person wearing the pendant to the roots of Judaism. Amongst the more common blessings and prayers carried in these hollow pendants were: “Shema Yisrael”, “Ana BeCo’ach”, “Shir HaMa’alot” (Song of Ascents), “Ani L'Dodi, v'Dodi Li” (I am My Beloved’s, and My Beloved is Mine) as well as other texts taken from the many holy Hebrew texts.
The energy of gem-stones
Another way to benefit from Kabbalistic blessings was through gem stones. According to Jewish tradition, certain stones contain within them energies that provide benefits to many people who wear them or touch them. Judaism’s history in connection to gem stones extends back to the period of the Torah and a holy piece of jewelry known as the Hosen or priestly breastplate. In the Book of Exodus, God commands Moses to make the ceremonial garments of the High Priest. Moses was required to set 12 gem stones into a breast plate with each stone representing one of the 12 Tribes of Israel.
Each of the Hosen “s gem stones contain powers and energies specific to it. For example, the garnet, that encourages inspiration and creativity, also helps to increase motivation and overcome bad moods. The garnet also helps to relieve back pains, awaken sexual arousal, sharpens the instincts and increases self-confidence. Since the stone’s qualities were known in Judaism, Jews who wished to benefit from these qualities wore jewelry incorporating garnets.
So, one of the most popular pieces of jewelry during the times that Jews were forced to hide their Judaism, was Hosen jewelry. Such jewelry could be worn by Jews without announcing to the world their true faith and also provided the wearer with a host of benefits and blessings and served to remind them of their roots: the 12 Tribes of Israel.
Another method used to disguise Kabbalah jewelry was by enraging blessings and combinations of holy letters on the back of a piece of jewelry in such a way so as that it could not be seen by the casual observer. It was most common for Jews to engrave one of the 72 Names of God on the back of their jewelry.
According to the Kabbalah, God has 72 names. Each name is a combination of three Hebrew letters and is a unique blessing. Therefore, engraving three tiny letters on the rear side of a piece of jewelry, was an original way to wear Kabbalah jewelry without revealing the wearer’s Jewish identity.
So we can see that the Jewish people was always able to preserve their Jewish traditions. Even during the darkest periods of their history when they were forced to hide their faith, they never waived in their prayers, their blessings and the qualities and characteristics of Judaism – even when the threat of death was hovering over them.
Encrypted Kabbalah jewelry symbolizes the strength of the Jewish people, its steadfast faith and the tremendous pride it has for its traditions and its special history. This was helped by the many Hebrew prayers and blessings that kept the Jewish people safe even when they were about to be imprisoned just as they protected and preserved those same prayers and blessings: the People of Israel protected the Torah and the Torah protected the People of Israel. This reciprocal relationship is preserved even today as the People of Israel continue to survive and bear with pride its faith and ancient tradition both in the Diaspora and in Israel, the homeland of the Jewish People.
Even today, encrypted Kabbalah jewelry is very popular. Many people choose to wear them as they identify with the Jews who were forced to wear them in the past. It isn.t unusual today to see young men and women from across the world wearing encrypted Kabbalah jewelry, often without even knowing their history.
Unfortunately, is certain places in the world, many Jews are still forced to conceal their Judaism for fear of being harmed. In a world were anti-Semitism thrives and is on the rise, Jews are still forced to wear encrypted Kabbalah jewelry when, in some countries, they are not even allowed to leave.
We all hope that all the Jews (and indeed people of all nations) will be free. Then they will be able to wear Kabbalah jewelry from choice and not because they have to. As we say in the Passover Seder when the reading of the Haggadah has been completed: “Next Year in Jerusalem”.
Post courtesy of Yaniv Ovadia, KabbalahJewelryDesigners.com.