Tzedakah Boxes in Jewish History

What are Tzedakah Boxes?

Tzedakah Boxes are commonly translated as Charity Boxes. First of all, that is a Jewish tzedakah boxmistranslation, an understandable one but still incorrect. The root of the Hebrew word Tzedakah is Tzedek meaning Justice. Judaism views giving to those who are less fortunate than you as a form of justice, not an act of charity. Charity denotes a generous action done out of the kindness of one’s heart. Continue reading

What Says Thank-You for a Shabbat Invite in the Best Way?

You’ve been invited out for a meal or two or even an entire Shabbat, Friday is drawing nearer and you suddenly realize that you have nothing to bring your hosts- what to do?! We recommend stocking up on a bunch of beautiful Judaica gifts which you can then whip Shabbat Candlesticksout at your convenience. That way you’ll never have that last minute rush before Shabbat which usually ends in buying something over-priced, totally useless that screams last-minute.com. No, a bunch of withered flowers, calorific-laden desserts and boring bottles of wine don’t exactly broadcast originality. Continue reading

Seven Species of Israel Products

“A land of wheat and barley and grapes and figs and pomegranates, and land of olive oil and dates.”

Seven agricultural products are listed in the Bible as being special to the Land of Israel. Although these species no longer dominate the diet of people living in Israel these species still characterize the local landscape and are widely used in the Israeli diet. In biblical times the species were the staple foods consumed by the people in the land. In modern times only wheat is a staple but the fact that these species continue to dominate the landscape accentuates a sense of continuity between Biblical Israel and Modern Israel. Continue reading

Mezuzah

If one observes a religiously-observant Jewish family with children as they enter and exit their house, one may notice that family members touch the right-hand doorpost of the entrance to their house whenever they enter and exit the house and immediately after raise their fingertips to their lips. Little children will often request to be lifted up to the doorpost to kiss the skinny, oblong box that rests on it. For those unfamiliar with Judaism this site is certainly a strange one. Continue reading

Dead Sea Cosmetics

Dead Sea cosmetics are primarily skin care products for everyone, men, women and children. One company does have foundation and powder for face makeup, but everything else is related to skin, nail and hair care. These products are made with minerals from the Dead Sea, the most saline body of water in the world. It has such a high mineral content, only one form of bacteria can survive in the water, and nothing else. This accounts for the name of the lake. Continue reading

What Are The Best Known Hebrew Symbols?

Although the Jews have been scattered all over the world, they have been able to preserve their Hebrew symbols. Distance has not been able to create a barrier as these Hebrew symbols are used to bind the Jewish people together no matter where they are. The history and faith of the Jewish are linked to the symbols they use to identify and unify them as a people.

Here are several significant Hebrew symbols which are recognized by every Jew all over the world.

The Symbol of Chai
The symbol of Chai is Hebrew and is of major significance among the Jews. The Chai consists of a combination of two letters from the Hebrew alphabet and these two letters when decoded means living. The numbers of Chai is equivalent to 18; a number of highly spiritual connotation among the Jewish people. The persons who wear this symbol will enjoy the protection that it offers.

The Book of Psalms
The Book of Psalms is an anthology of poems and songs written by David. The Jews believe that the Book of Psalms contains the most sacred words in Judaism.  Many people wear this book in the form of a lucky charm necklace because it is believed that the wearer will be blessed and protected.

The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue is a prominent Hebrew symbol which is used as the guide for moral and ethical behavior among the Jews. This symbol although found in other religions were given to the Jews by God as a guide to help them to live virtuously. God gave the Ten Commandments to His messenger, Moses, and instructed him to give them to the Jews.  This information can be proven from the book of Exodus.

The 72 Names of God
The Kabbalah contains seventy-two different names of God which are written using three letters sequence. There are no vowels in the Hebrew alphabet and this makes it difficult for anyone to pronounce each name. However, it is the belief that the wearer of jewelry bearing these names are able to draw strength and power from them. Each of the names is taken from the book of Numbers and is then decoded by well-known Kabbalah researchers.

It is evident that these Hebrew symbols play a significant part in the life of the Jewish people because they have been able to bear the test of time and can still be found in the homes of many Jews and they are also being worn by Jews as well. These symbols are incorporated in a wide range of Hebrew jewelry worn by Jewish men and women all across the globe.

Bar Mitzvah Gifts

What is a Bar Mitzvah?
“Bar Mitzvah” translates to mean “son of the commandment” and is used to describe a Jewish boy that reaches the age of thirteen. In Judaism, the age of thirteen for males is a milestone at which the young person becomes responsible for keeping the commandments of the Torah.

Bar Mitzvah is also used to describe the event that many of these boys will hold to celebrate their “coming of age” even thought strictly speaking it refers to their status. Even if a boy does not have a special ceremony or event to celebrate their coming of age, he will still automatically become Bar Mitzvah.

What is the mystical reasoning behind the Bar Mitzvah status?
According to Kabbalah, just as thirteen is an age at which boys often begin to change physically, their souls are also changing and it is believed that a person’s spiritual being has several levels of soul and at the time of Bar Mitzvah a new level of soul is awakened leading to moral awareness and sensitivity which enables the taking of responsibility for one’s actions.

Furthermore, there is a well-known rule in the Talmud that a commandment performed by one who is commanded to uphold it is considered greater than the commandment performed by one who isn’t obligated to do so. This is because when told to do things people have a natural aversion to do so. To overcome this aversion shows maturity and this is what the Bar Mitzvah celebrates- the stage of obligation.

Calling up to the Torah
On the Sabbath of his thirteenth birthday, the young man celebrating his Bar Mitzvah is called up to the Torah and in most synagogues it is customary to pelt the young man with candies. It is customary for the father of the young man who has reached Bar Mitzvah age to recite a blessing symbolizing the fact that from here on his son takes responsibilities for his own actions.

The Bar Mitzvah will then read a portion from the Biblical prophets and after services a small buffet is often held that begins with a blessing over the wine.

The Reception
It is popular to hold a reception in celebration of the Bar Mitzvah, ideally on the day the boy turns Bar Mitzvah. Often the Bar Mitzvah boy will give a short speech that is related to Torah thoughts. It is preferable that the celebration not be ostentatious so as not to place the emphasis on the wrong things- the spiritual significance of the day comes first and foremost.

The Gift
It is the accepted practice to give a gift to the Bar Mitzvah boy. It is always advisable to check what is deemed acceptable in the community of the Bar Mitzvah boy regarding gifts. It is a nice idea to give something meaningful for this important milestone event; a beautiful charity box can be a lovely idea, a Jewish book that the Bar Mitzvah boy can enjoy, Tefillin that the Bar Mitzvah boy begins putting on can be an expensive but truly special gift, a Tallit in the case of Sephardi communities where the boy will also begin wearing one at Bar Mitzvah, etc.