Beliefs – Practices – Symbols
Series # 2 POPULAR JEWISH SUPERSTITIONS
Like all cultures, Jews have developed superstitious practices applicable to many occasions.
Spitting Three Times Whether done literally or figuratively (by saying “pooh, pooh, pooh”) spitting three times is a mystical number is a classic response to something exceptionally evil or good. For centuries Jews have performed this ritual in response to seeing, hearing, or learning of something terrible and as a measure to prevent such tragedy from happening or recurring.
Ironically, it is traditional to perform the same action in response to something wonderful, such as good news, birth of a baby and to ward off the evil eye. Spitting was long considered a potent protector against magic and demons. Ancient and medieval physicians, including Maimonides, described the positive values of saliva and spittle. Because spitting was viewed as a crude and messy practice it was replaced by simple saying “pooh, pooh, pooh.”
Chewing on Thread This practice relates to a Yiddish phrase that one should not sew up the brains (or common sense). Another explanation is that the burial shrouds are sewn around the remains of the deceased. Chewing while another is sewing is a clear indication that one is alive and not yet ready a candidate for the grave.
Pulling or Tugging One’s Ear When Sneezing Originally common among Jews from Galicia and Lithuania. It is performed if the sneeze occurred when speaking about one who is dead.
Sneezing on the Truth Midrashic legend maintains that a sneeze used to announce impending death. Some people believed that the little explosion in the head ensured approaching eternity. A traditional belief is that when a person sneezes during a conversation whatever has just been said will occur, based on the concept sneezing on the truth.
Closing Books That Have Been Left Open Closing prayer books or Bibles is a common practice. The explanation appears to be related to the medieval fear of the evil power of devils and demons, who would take the holy knowledge and somehow use it for their own nefarious purposes.
Wearing Metal Pin on Clothes When Embarking on a Trip. In some communities a safety pin is attached out of sight on ones clothes before taking a journey. Metal was thought to be a powerful protective substance. The power of metal also can be derived from the biblical discussion of the first plaque, in which God states that all water stored in vessels of wood and stone will turn to blood. Metal receptacles are not mentioned because they must have protected the water from changing. Another explanation is that metal means luck.
Knocking on Wood to protect from evil is a non-Jewish practice, even though many Jews do it. Many connect the actions to Christian beliefs that relate wood to silver of the cross, which were believe to bring good luck. However, the practice has a more universal, pantheistic origin. Long before the time of Jesus, some cultures regarded trees as gods; believers were convinced that touching or knocking on wood produced magical results.
I would like to bring to your attention THE STAR OF DAVID. As you know it is a symbol of divine guidance and protection. It shines and stands out. As important, it is a symbol of a Jew. This symbol is recognized throughout the world and affects our lives in many ways.
Here at the Cuban Hebrew Congregation we have our own star that shines and stands out. This star is a very special person, not only in our community but in the Jewish community at large. We would like to honor her hard work, dedication and outstanding contributions.
There is no role in life more essential than that of motherhood. This person amplifies the role in her own family as she does to anyone in need. We should all recognize the strong presence of starts in our lives and take the time to say thank you.
The Women’s League honors NANCY BROOK as the star of our community and to say thank you.
“Those who slander us shall
Have no hope, and all their
evil ways be gone (lost)
We are looking forward to many more wonderful years here at Temple Beth Shmuel- Cuban Hebrew Congregation. Contrary to what you have heard as awful continuing gossip we will ALWAYS be Temple Beth Shmuel – Cuban Hebrew Congregation of Miami Inc. You have heard we would close many years ago but we remain functioning and we will continue to keep our doors OPEN to the community. I thank you for your support and look forward to 2021, in which we will share and participate in many cultural, educational and social events in our beautiful sanctuary and newly renovated starlight Olemberg Ballroom.
Stay safe, distance and always wear your mask.
Becky Kobrowski, President and the WL Board
Now is the time to find the spiritual connection inside, not inside a physical structure, but inside ourselves. The community will connect with the help of technology. But we must also find the way to create our own spiritual connection. Perhaps we can make the environment in our personal home help ignite the spirit. For some candles, artwork and religious symbols could help decorate the environment, and feel like a personal sanctuary. For some it might be the presence of family or friends in the same room, or even over a computer screen. Many will want to take a quiet time before or after the recorded services, contemplating the previous year and the next year, meditating on the hopes, dreams, expectations and potential surprises the world offers. We take time to remember the blessings and the challenges, while trying to feel blessed by both especially this year. We are truly challenged to make our home our sanctuary. Let us see Hashem before our eyes, in our home and in our hearts. Starting from such holy hearts, holy homes and holy minds, together we will make it a very sweet New Year.
Cuban Hebrew Congregation of Miami, Inc.
Cuban Hebrew Congregation of Miami, Inc. 1700 Michigan Avenue Miami Beach, FL 33139 US
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