Hamsa: Learn about the Hamsa in Jewish Culture

You have seen it on numerous necklaces, street markets on your trip to Israel, a beautiful Hamsa, shaped as open palm’s hand, with a symbol of an eye. Referred to as Hand of Fatima and Hand of Miriam, its precise origin is unknown, but today it serves as a Kabalistic amulet and highly popular and meaningful symbol in Jewish art and jewelry. This gorgeous piece isn’t just your typical home décor piece or a mere evil eye amulet. We are about to take you on a journey to discover the Hamsa, from up close and personal!


Hamsa origin

Important both in Islamic and Jewish culture, the term originates from the Arabic word 5, Khamsa, and represents Fatima, Mohammad’s daughter. Shocked by her husband’s news of new wife, Fatima didn’t notice she burnt her hand while cooking and the hand became a symbol of patience and belief. The symbol first appeared in Spain in the 14th century on an Islamic fortress. In Jewish culture it is a symbol of Sephardic nature. It is unclear when exactly the hamsa emerged and became an iconic symbol in Jewish culture, but today this piece is often accompanied with fish for evil eye, Star of David, pomegranates and Shema.


Hamsa meaning

Depicting 5 fingers, the Hamsa serves as a reminder to God’s hand. Used as a sign of protection against negative forces and jealousy of others, it is often embellished with an eye depiction, against, Ain Hara, evil eye. 

Hamsa in Kabbalah

When depicted as an open right hand, the Hamsa symbol represents the 5 books of Moses, with each finger representing one book: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. It is the hand of the Creator, the ultimate protection against all evil and appears in many kabalistic manuscripts.


Hamsa in Jewish traditions

Often called, Hand of Miriam, the hamsa represents Moses and Aaron’s sister. Often inscribed with the word ‘Mazal’, in English ‘Luck’, this protective amulet is often hung in the home and embellished with the Hebrew home blessing or in the office with business blessing. When a child is born, baby hamsa pins are a popular baby stroller decoration. 


So, wheather you believe it or not, the Hamsa sends you its blessings, power and Mazal!

Interested to learn more about Jewish symbols? You will find our posts on the Star of David and pomegranates most fascinating!