Chamsa - Hand of Miriam | Hamsa in Jewish Religion

Chamsa Home Decor from IsraelIn Jewish folklore the Chamsa is known as the Hand of Miriam or Hamesh Hand. The word Chamesh literaly means Five and is also the reason why the Chamsa sometimes shows in that format. The Chamsa is believed to have served as an ancient talismanic way of averting the Evil Eye, or more generally of providing a "protecting hand" or "Hand of God" known to draw positive energy, happiness, riches and health. It appears, often in a stylized form, as a hand with three fingers raised, and sometimes with two thumbs arranged symmetrically. The symbol is used in Hamsa amulets, Hamsa charms, Hamsa jewelry, Hamsa pendants door entrances, cars, and other places to ward off the Evil Eye. The Chamsa's (from the semite root meaning five) includes five digits and symbolizes the god's protective hand. Five is by itself a number which is associated with protection. In the Sephardic household the symbol of a fish is also used to repel the eye and originates from the Talmud. According to some of the writing it is believed that fish are immune from the evil eye because they are under water making them effective amulets.

In Israel and in Jewish culture globally it is most commonly known as "Hamsa" or "Chamsa", without any Islamic heritage connotations. Some sources link the significance of the five fingers to the five books of the Torah, the Jewish name for the Old Testament scriptures, this significance seems unlikely though as the Hamsa seems to pre-date Judaism.

The Chamsa as a home decor piece hung on a wall, is a very common ornament in many Middle Eastern countries including Morocco, Israel, Egypt, Jordan and others. The use of the Chamsa is to some degree associated with Israeli culture and brought about by the first Jewish immigrants that came to Israel from the Middle Eastern countries. To a certain extent folklore and superstition are behind the Chamsa's popularity and for the most part it has nothing to do with the official Jewish religion. Still many people today display or wear Chamsas as ornaments, without giving any thought to their supposed magical properties.



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