TAPPING INTO THE POWERFUL ENERGY FIELD OF JEWISH SYMBOLISM
By Ariella Bracha Waldinger
Jewish life abounds with symbols and religious objects both tangible and visual that relate to its beliefs and lofty ideals. These symbols and objects help to bring Israel’s long, fascinating history to life, as we utilize them in relationship with our daily Jewish living. They also bring depth and meaning to the Jewish holidays which are often shaped by the symbols themselves.
Symbolism is defined as the use of symbols to convey special meanings or significance. It also means attributing meaning to objects, events or relationships. Judaism utilizes symbols such as: numbers, metals, minerals, spices, colors, artwork, and other objects throughout the Bible, as a means to understand and connect to the deeper meaning of the symbols. The symbols have the ability to affect both the intellect and emotions, as their appeal is extremely powerful. Utilization of symbols by a religion or religious person can create a deep, meaningful experience between G-d and man. For example, the Jewish nation is compared to the moon and just as the moon gets its light from the sun, the Jewish nation receives its spiritual light from G-d and His Torah. Just as the moon physically evolves and gets bigger and then smaller, so too the Jewish nation throughout its history has declined and grown. This visual symbol creates a powerful story of the Jewish people and a way to relate to our greatness.
Discovering how these symbols can positively affect your life is exciting, meaningful and essential to getting the most benefit from your holiday experience. Interestingly, these symbols send messages to the subconscious mind eliciting various responses. The ancients of Israel and other cultures understood the power of symbols and used them extensively in their artwork and rituals. They were also used as aides for protection, fertility, wealth, success, crops, and birth and death rituals among others. We can bring this beautiful awareness into practice and derive great spiritual pleasure in its transformative utilization.
Research shows that using a symbol geared towards a certain goal can help the consciousness to release and hone in on the energy pattern necessary to bring about the desired manifestation. In this way, symbols are like road maps, leading the individual towards a desired goal. The road is not a real road but an energy channel. Energy, like a roadway, twists and bends and connects two things together that would be difficult to reach under normal circumstances. These energy paths are effective because they have been used for years. Symbols acts like keys that help us unlock and tap into particular energy pathways. The more often our consciousness dips into this energy stream, the more easily our consciousness can tap into it. With this in mind, we should be able to utilize our Jewish symbols in a much more dynamic way, especially as the Rosh HaShana holiday approaches.
As symbols go, the shofar is one of the most important symbols used during the entire month of Elul and into the month of Tishrei. The shofar is a musical instrument made from the horn of a Kosher animal i.e. goat or ram (but not a cow, which reminds us of the sin of the golden calf). The shofar comes in a variety of sizes and is incorporated into the Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur liturgy in the synagogue. The shofar is frequently mentioned in the Talmud, Rabbinic literature and the Hebrew Bible. Its primordial, penetrating, wordless sound serves to arouse the Jews to awaken to repentance, as it stirs the soul to both remorse and longing to connect to the awe of G-d. The sound of the Shofar was heard when the Jews accepted the Torah on Mt. Sinai. It will once again be heard when its clarion call will reunite the Jews from all corners of the world at the time of our Redemption. It also reminds us to pray for the rebuilding of the Temple when shofars and trumpets will resound throughout the world. It is a powerful instrument of inspiration! Thus, the shofar elicits many emotions and responses as we tap into its deep symbolic meanings.
Since Rosh HaShana is fast approaching, it is vital to become familiar with the symbols used during the holiday services and the meals as well. Understanding the deeper meaning of the symbols allows one to enter into the secret chambers of their true power thereby bringing tremendous blessings to you. Rosh HaShana, the first holiday of the Jewish New Year is laden with rich and tasty symbolism also referred to as significant omens. It is customary to eat luscious apples dipped in rich, savory honey at the holiday meal. The apples are connected to being fruitful in all manner of endeavors and the honey is meant to signify having a sweet, New Year. It is also customary to dip the challah (special holiday bread) in the honey, to signify that the New Year will be as sweet as the honey. These channels of reflection and blessing can be tapped into as we previously stated.
Some have the custom of eating from a fish head, which is accompanied by a blessing requesting, “May we be like a head (a leader) and not a tail (follower)” or “May we be plentiful and numerous as the fish which symbolizes prosperity and fertility.” We also eat the newly ripened pomegranate, which is one of the seven special species of the Land of Israel. This gorgeous red, delicious tasting fruit is said to have 613 dark red seeds laden with health properties. These seeds relate to the total number of mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah. We eat this fruit to show our hope of performing many mitzvot during the coming year and that our merits will also increase as a result.
The festive meal goes on with additional symbolic foods such as carrots, leeks or cabbage, beets and gourd. A blessing is recited before eating the foods and the blessings and symbolism are listed in the holiday prayer book. The custom of eating the symbolic foods is based on an insightful Talmudic teaching. Many people and communities develop their own interesting customs relating to foods eaten on the first night of Rosh HaShana, making it fun and interesting for the children or guests participating.
There is a custom that we do not eat nuts on Rosh HaShana because the Hebrew word for nuts has the same numerical value as the Hebrew word for sin. We do not want any connection to sin on this auspicious night of new beginnings, in which we coronate HaShem as King in our lives. It is the custom of many to wear white on Rosh HaShana because white symbolizes our desire to be pure and draw close to G-d. On the second day of Rosh Hashana, Jews go to a body of water to recite special prayers which contain a reference to the forgiving G-d who “casts our sins into the depths of the sea”. After the prayer, Jews symbolically throw their sins into the water to be carried away and never seen again. This ritual act has great significance and serves to indicate our desire to return to G-d fully cleansed.
To summarize: The symbols are energetic pathways that have been in place for a long time. By consciously choosing to attach to the symbol, we enter the energy channel of that symbol and consciously derive all the benefits it has to offer. We become receptors for the knowledge and use of the symbols over the generations. We will derive great spiritual benefit if we utilize the POWER AND BEAUTY OF JEWISH SYMBOLISM both as we greet the holidays and lead our daily lives. G-d has gifted us with symbols to transmit renewed inspiration to our physical and spiritual encounters. This understanding brings me to a state of deep gratitude, for in each symbol, G-ds love is truly revealed, as it enables us to draw closer to the source of all Blessings in the world. Just as a gift from a spouse or friend is a symbol of their love, so too these symbols are divine gifts of love to inspire us in a deep way.
I bless all of Am Yisrael that we utilize the power embedded in the symbols to gain access to their depth, beauty and power. I bless us that we take the time to connect to the symbols thus accessing their deeper meaning giving a dynamic, spiritual charge to our holidays.
With Blessings of love and light, Ariella Bracha