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Judaism Essay

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The symbolism and meaning of Judaism plays an important role in the Jewish people's lives. But ancient Judaism differs from modern Judaism. The Hebrew word for symbol is ot, which, in early Judaism, was a visible religious token of the relation between God and man. There are four symbols most used by the Jews. Star of David, Menorah, Mezuzah and the Torah.

In ancient times, King David entered the battlefield holding a shield which is known as "The Star of David." It signifies the protection of God given to King David. The Star of David symbolizes the six directions of space plus the center, under the influence of the description of space found in the Sefer Yetsira: Up, Down, East, West, South, North, and Center. It has become a very important Jewish symbol. This six pointed star, can be found on mezuzahs, menorahs, tallis bags and kipot. The Star of David becomes known as a Jewish symbol and it was apparently adopted later in Jewish history. The star has been used to adorn the cover of the Torah, and it is found on Jewish synagogues and tombstones. The symbol has much emotional history for the Jewish people having to do with the Holocaust, when it was used by the Nazis to identify the Jewish people. Today The Star of David continues to be a heroic symbol for some Jews, and it has been put on the flag of Israel with the creation of the modern State of Israel in 1948. It is known as a symbol of modern Jewish culture.

Menorah is a Hebrew word meaning "candelabrum." In relation

to Hanukkah, it refers to the nine branched ceremonial lamp in which the Hanukkah candles are placed and then blessed. The menorah originated as a religious symbol in biblical times. The Torah tells us how the great artist Bezalel fashioned a seven-branched menorah for the desert tabernacle in fulfillment of a Divine commandment "Exodus 25:31-40; 37:17-24." Such a seven-branched menorah adorned the Temple in Jerusalem and was carried away by the Roman legions at the time of its destruction. While the Roman Empire has vanished, a seven-branched menorah stands before the Knesset building in Israel. The nine-branched Hanukkah menorah was a modification of the biblical model and seems to have originated in the first century C.E. It had eight branches, one for each day of the holiday, and a ninth branch for the shamash or "servant" light.

In ancient times, oil was used in the menorah. Over time, candles were substituted for the oil. The use of small candles for the menorah was a deliberate choice, designed to distinguish Hanukkah lights from Christian votive candles. Except in times of religious persecution, the menorah was placed outside the front door or, as is the custom today, placed in the window of every Jewish home. Over the years, the menorah has represented more than a candelabra. It has become a symbol of Judaism, and is used on some Israeli coins. Modern usage

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