Jewish Symbols and Traditions - 1 (Jewish Traditions)

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As leavened goods are banned during the festival, the weeks leading up to Passover are traditionally spent cleaning. Every nook and cranny is scrubbed to get rid of even the tiniest forbidden crumb that might lurk there.

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Some say this tradition is the origin of the more widely known " spring clean ". You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists? Try Independent Premium free for 1 month. Independent Premium Comments can be posted by members of our membership scheme, Independent Premium. It allows our most engaged readers to debate the big issues, share their own experiences, discuss real-world solutions, and more.

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Signs and Symbols

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Steve Coogan. Rugby union. Motor racing. US sports. Rugby League. Movers List. Strictly observant Jewish men commonly wear a special four-cornered garment, similar to a poncho, called a tallit katan "little tallit" , so that they will have the opportunity to fulfill this important mitzvah all day long. The tallit katan is worn under the shirt, with the tzitzit hanging out so they can be seen.

If you've ever seen a Jewish man with strings hanging out of his clothing, this is probably what you were seeing. There is no particular religious significance to the tallit shawl itself, other than the fact that it holds the tzitzit fringes on its corners.

There are also very few religious requirements with regard to the design of the tallit. The tallit must be long enough to be worn over the shoulders as a shawl , not just around the neck as a scarf , to fulfill the requirement that the tzitzit be on a "garment. A longer tallit is commonly folded over the shoulders, to prevent the tzitzit from dragging on the ground.

The tallit may be made of any material, but must not be made of a combination of wool and linen, because that combination is forbidden on any clothing. Most tallitot are white with navy or black stripes along the shorter ends, possibly in memory of the thread of techeilet. They also commonly have an artistic motif of some kind along the top long end the outside of the part that goes against your neck. This motif is referred to as an atarah crown.

There is no particular religious significance to the atarah; it simply tells you which end is up! It is quite common, however, to write the words of the blessing for putting on the tallit on the atarah, so you can read the blessing while you are putting the tallit on.

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Judaism and Numbers

If a blessing is written on your tallit, you should be careful not to bring the tallit into the bathroom with you! Sacred writings should not be brought into the bathroom. For this reason, many synagogues have a tallit rack outside of the bathroom. Conversely, if you see a room in a synagogue with a sign that tells you to remove your tallit before entering, you can safely assume that the room is a bathroom!

The Shema also commands us to bind the words to our hands and between our eyes. We do this by "laying tefillin," that is, by binding to our arms and foreheads leather pouches containing scrolls of Torah passages. The word "tefillin" is usually translated "phylacteries," although I don't much care for that term. The word "tefillin," on the other hand, is etymologically related to the word "tefilah" prayer and the root Pe-Lamed-Lamed judgment. Like the mezuzah , tefillin are meant to remind us of G-d 's mitzvot.

We bind them to our head and our arm, committing both our intellect and our physical strength to the fulfillment of the mitzvot. At weekday morning services , one case is tied to the arm, with the scrolls at the biceps and leather straps extending down the arm to the hand, then another case is tied to the head, with the case on the forehead and the straps hanging down over the shoulders. Appropriate blessings are recited during this process.

Judaism Signs and Symbols

The tefillin are removed at the conclusion of the morning services. See a general outline of this process and its blessings at Tallit and Tefillin. Jewish acupuncturist Steven Schram examined the positioning of the tefillin and the procedure for laying them, and concluded that the laying of tefillin was "a unique way of stimulating a very precise set of acupuncture points that appears designed to clear the mind and harmonise the spirit. Like the scrolls in a mezuzah, the scrolls in tefillin must be hand-written in a special style of writing.


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A good, valid set of tefillin can cost a few hundred dollars, but if properly cared for they can last for a lifetime. For more information about tefillin or to purchase valid tefillin online, visit the S. One of the oldest symbols of the Jewish faith is the menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum used in the Temple. The kohanim lit the menorah in the Sanctuary every evening and cleaned it out every morning, replacing the wicks and putting fresh olive oil into the cups.