Monday, September 19, 2016

Mysterious Seal

Dear Reader
If you happen to know anything about this seal please send me a comment

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Star of David and the Menorah

The Magen David and the Menorah (like also the Ten Commandments, the map of Israel, the Israeli flag, the Western Wall) are synonymous symbols that competed in the past and compete also nowadays on the representation of the Jewish nation, Zionism and the State of Israel.

Until the destruction of the Second Temple by the year of 70 C.E. the Menorah served as tool of worship. Since then it serves as symbol to the destruction of the Second Temple, to the holocaust, and to the revival of Israel. The Magen David serves also, in the form of the yellow patch, as symbol to the holocaust, and, in center the Israeli flag, to the revival of the Jewish Nation.

The Menorah symbolizes the creation of the world in seven days; the central candle symbolizes the seventh Day. The Magen David also symbolizes (among other things) the creation of the world in seven days, while its invisible center symbolizes the seventh Day.

In the Menorah were 22 cups representing the alphabet characters. Nethaniel Yaakov Daniel from Tel Aviv discovered these 22 characters recently in the shape of the Magen David.

Since the Magen David and the Menorah symbolize similar things no wonder they were competitors. On the other hand, since it is hard to decide whom to use, there is no wonder that people decide "to go for sure" and to use them both.

Prominent example to the competition between the Magen David and the Menorah in the generation of the decision makers we will be able to find in the discussions of the committee of the flag and the symbol by the year of 1948. In the Course of time indeed the Menorah was chosen to symbolize the state, but during the discussions rose number of times offers to introduce along side also the Magen David (that found its way to the center of the Israeli flag).

The controversy in the Jewish tradition concerning the source of the Magen David proves how much it was important to the Israeli nation to decide which of the two symbols was more important. The acceptable version is indeed that king David used a shield carrying upon it a Magen David, but there were during history important leaders who claimed that on the Shield of David was the form of the Menorah. For instance: Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulai in his book "Midbar Kedamot", Yitzhak Arama in his book "Akedat Yitzhak", Rabbi Zvi Elimelach Shapira in his book "Bney Isaskhar " and Rabbi Hayim Elazar Shapira in his book "Divrey Torah". The Menorah was during generations the senior representative of our nation - archaeologists discovered in their excavations many more Menorahs than Magen Davids… Nowadays it seems as if the controversy was ended, and the Magen David takes the first place as our national symbol.

An Interesting position in this controversy has researcher Uri Ofir that proves in his study on the Jewish source of the Magen David according to traditional sources that these two symbols equal in their importance. He shows that the Magen Davids held the candles in the Tabernacle Menorah after the Exodus. Since the lamp in its entirety was not made by hand it must have been made by the Lord in person - so that the Lord is responsible both to the form of the Magen David and to the form of the.

A Number of examples to the partnership of these symbols:
In synagogues and in Jewish cemeteries the Magen Davids and the Menorah appear frequently together. These two symbols appear frequently together also on Happy New Year and on Ex- Libris in the years before the establishment of the state of Israel.
 Magen David and Menorah appear together in the Rali Museum in Caesarea from October 1993 above marble sculpture of People that contributed to establish the state: Hertzel, Weitzmann, Arthur James Balfour, Harry Truman and David Ben Gurion.

In the holocaust memorial of Estonia, there is a Magen David carved on one side and a Menorah on the other.
In the holocaust memorial of Bialistok, there is a Magen David formed by pebbles alongside a tombstone with a Menorah.
A Menorah and a yellow Magen David (in memory of the yellow patch?) appear on the Memorial in Herzl Mount for the Jewish fighters in the Polish Army who lost their lives in WWII. In addition, there’s in Herzl Mount another large statue of a Menorah on a Magen David.
Menorah and a Magen David are the elements that compose the logo of the World Zionist Congress.
On a JNF postage stamp (“for Torah and certificate”) these two symbols appear along with the flag.
Nazi Propaganda postcard shows President Roosevelt holding Menorah and a Magen David to show how he backs the Jews and identifies with them.

The Magen David and the Menorah were prevalent motives in Bezalel art at the start of previous century.

Artist Chanoch Ben Dov erected in Maalot a big statue of a Menorah with a Magen David at its bottom.

In the 5 November 2007 the sculpture David’s Menorah by artist David Soussanna was placed in Jerusalem near the Knesset.

In a number of works by Aviva Beigel appear Israeli identity symbols including the Magen David and the Menorah.

In an article in Yediot Ahronot from 20 April 2007 Jasmine Levy interviewed five Israeli artists about changing the Israeli flag. Yaacov Agam said that the Magen David is not a Jewish symbol and suggested to replace it with the rainbow, which is the Menorah upside down.

The logo of the Messianic Jews is a combination of a Menorah with a Magen David and a fish.

In the Karaite Synagogue in Moshav Matzliach the Menorah appears along with a Magen David and the Ten Commandments. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Brewers’ Stars and the Star of David

 Brewers’ Stars and the Star of David in:
Jacob Linckh, Landauer Band I (1659), Seite 118v

It is a well-known fact that the Brewer's Star (on brewery signs, inn signs, beer kegs, beer guild logos, beer cups etc.) looks exactly like the Star of David, but it is important to notice that even though every Star of David is a six-pointed star - not every six-pointed star is a Star of David. For example, there are natural hexagrams like stars, snowflakes and flowers; and there are artificial hexagrams like police badges, Chinese checkers etc.
Matthias Trum claims in his thesis [1] that the oldest depiction of a brewer is in a 1425 painting from Nuremberg, Germany. Later on Matthias Trum tries to answer (without arriving to any clear conclusion) the question: “How could one symbol in the course of history get two so different meanings? Might there even be a connection between both forms, e.g. do they have the same origin, or is the similarity merely coincidental”?
There are two facts about the connection between the hexagram and the alcohol industry, which might help answer Matthias Trum’s question: the first is that James Bennett Pritchard found a few hexagrams engraved on some wine jar handles from the 8th century B.C.E. at Gibeon, Israel [2]. The second is that hexagrams were found as Greek emblems for the marking of wines in Thasos and Carthago.

Another point that seems relevant here is that in alchemy the hexagram is composed from a triangle that points up representing fire while the triangle that points down represents water. Fire and water (needless to say) are opposites. In the hexagram they interpenetrate, and together they represent the unity of the opposites or (in alchemy)- the fiery water, the alcohol, the brandy etc.

Folklore has it that like the SIX points of the hexagram the brewers’ star represented the SIX aspects of brewing: water, hops, grain, malt, yeast, and brewer.

[1] For Technical University in Munich titled: Historical depictions, guild signs and symbols of the brewing and malting handcraft)
[2] The Water System of Gibeon, 1961, Page 47, 48 ISBN 0-934718-14-8
[3] Kadmoniot, 1973, Israel pp. 2-17

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Yellow Badge on Postage Stamps

The yellow badge is the name of the most known badge among the identifying badges that the Nazis enforced in legislation on the Jews. This badge was made from yellow cloth cut in the form of a triangle or in the form of a Star of David. In its center was added at times in black color the word Jew in the local European language such as in German or in French. The yellow badge serves nowadays mainly as symbol of the holocaust of European Jews, and as a central image of the Jews as victims. It evokes in us powerfully traumatic feelings of fear, anger and identification on the one hand, and of awe and holiness on the other hand.

Since WWII there were few stamps that “mentioned” the yellow badge:
East Germany issued in 1963 a stamp that marks 25 years since Kristallnacht, Night of the Broken Glass, in which the Nazis burned Jewish synagogues all over Germany and Austria. A chained yellow badge with the German caption “Jude” appears on this stamp on the background of a burning synagogue. Germans mark Holocaust Remembrance Day annually on the 27th of January; the day the Russian army liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp. In 2005 UN adopted the same date as a world Holocaust Remembrance Day.
            Israel issued in 1965 a stamp that marks 20 years since the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. Holocaust survivor Yaacov Zim designed this stamp. The Hebrew word “remember” appears under a yellow badge. In Hebrew this word arouses the association of the Biblical verse from Deuteronomy 25:17 “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt”. Amalek represents the Nazis and the verse calls not only for remembrance but also for vengeance.
Sweden issued in 1987 a booklet pane and one of its stamps was dedicated to Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg (1912 –1947?). A yellow badge appears on the chest of one of the thousands of Jews that he rescued from the Holocaust.
West Germany issued in 1988 a stamp to mark the 50 years since Kristallnacht. This stamp shows a burning synagogue along with a white Star of David that alludes to the yellow badge.
Canada issued in 1995 a stamp in memorial of the Jewish Holocaust with a large yellow badge in front of images of Jewish-concentration-camp-prisoners in their black striped uniform.
Belgium issued at the end of 1995 a stamp in memorial of Yvonne Feyerick Nevejean (1900-1987) who helped hide Jewish children in Belgium during World War II. Behind the portrait of Yvonne Feyerick Nevejean we see children standing in front of a yellow badge.
USA issued in  1997 a stamp in memorial of Raoul Wallenberg, which is very similar to the above mentioned Swedish stamp: a yellow badge appears on the chest of one of the thousands of Jews that he rescued from the Nazis.
Russia issued in 2000 a stamp marking 55 years since the Holocaust. There’s a yellow Star of David (alluding to the yellow badge) on a wall, which carries the word “Holocaust”. Behind the wall we see a huge flame, and above it, in the sky, two birds of freedom.
Israel issued in 2003 a Holocaust and Revival stamp designed by Gideon Sagi. The yellow badge is peeling, and behind it we discover the blue Star of David of the Israeli flag. The message is that the blue Star of David was based on, or even born from, the yellow badge. The Stamp is dedicated to the revival of half a million Holocaust survivors in Israel. On the tab we see the words Ezekiel 16:6: “in thy blood live”. These powerful words mean that Israel (represented by the blue Star of David) came to being due to the blood of the Holocaust victims (represented by the yellow badge). The words “blood” (death) and “living” are opposites. The Star of David, which is the shape of the yellow badge, is a symbol of the unison of all possible opposites.
Israel issued in 2003 a stamp marking Yad Vashem's Jubilee Year. It shows a  yellow badge on the chest of a Teddy Bear alluding to the children murdered by the Nazis during the   Holocaust period.
Israel issued in 2003 a stamp [Designed by Meir Eshel] with the names of force laborers from a factory in Poland who were shot or transported to Death Camps. On the stamp we see railroads (used for transporting Jews to Death Camps) transform into the blue stripes of the Israeli flag, while the yellow badge at the bottom ascends and becomes the blue Star of David on the Israeli flag.

We should remember that stamps are not subjective whims, they are states’ statements aimed at reflecting some public concerns. Judging by this small sample of Yellow Badges on Postage Stamps we may notice, unsurprisingly, that the remembrance of the Holocaust troubles the Israeli government in the first place and the German government in the second place. 

The Star of David and the Zodiac

The six-pointed star is a most complicated symbol. It has many meanings in different cultures. Currently, it is known as the (political) symbol of Judaism, but in the past there were ascribed to it, among other things, significances such as: defense and intertwining (psychology); unification of the opposites; the similarity between microcosm and macrocosm (philosophy). In European languages it goes by the name of the STAR of David – which brings us to wonder about the astrological significance of this symbol in general, and about its relationship with the zodiac in particular.

The six-pointed star is known in Jewish culture as Magen David (David’s Shield), in Roman culture as hexagram, in Christian culture as the star of Mary or as the Star of David. The Muslim calls it Solomon’s seal, and the Indians – Yantra.

This Symbol was known already on the daybreak of history. In the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin are presented several cylinder seals, dated to c.2500 B.C., decorated with celestial symbols showing stars with six, seven, eight and more points. These stars appear there in an astrological context or in an astronomical context. Among them there is (on item VA/243) a circle surrounded by six triangles, which looks like the Star of David. From the same culture and from the same time frame there are archaeological artifacts of the zodiac that prove that the Sumerians recognized it or even invented it [1]. The Star of David and the zodiac signs developed since then in parallel lines, and separately, with sporadic collisions of their courses. For instance:

The six-pointed star shaped Bir Chana Mosaic Floor (now in Tunisia’s Bardo Museum) contains the zodiac signs as well as the personifications of the days of the week. It is dated to the third century C.E. Whoever created it “suggested” that the Star of David is the geometrical symbol of the map of the sky.

Jewish tradition has it that after Exodus the 12 Israelite tribes encamped in the desert in the shape of the Magen David [2]. To this equation numerous Jewish sources add the comparison of the 12 tribes with the stones of the Jewish High Priest, and with the zodiac: In Sefer Hapliah ascribed to Rabbi Nechonia Ben Hakana we find that the encampment of the Tribes was parallel to the 12 zodiacal signs and to the 12 stones of the High Priest. The same goes as to Midrash Tanchuma [3] where we read that the tribes are part of the cosmic order, like the 12 hours of the day, the 12 months of the year and the 12 zodiacal signs.

In his book De Vita Mosis (3, 209) Philo (20-50 C.E.) interpreted the names on the 12 stones of the High Priest as the signs of the zodiac. Josephus Flavius (37-100 C.E.) gave a similar explanation to the 12 stones in his book Antiquities of the Jews (Vo. 3 chapter 7). The stones were placed in FOUR rows like the zodiac signs which are arranged in FOUR groups according to the four elements: earth water fire and air. This equation seems to be based on the common numerical denominator of the zodiac and the tribes: 12. In the Star of David, there are 6 points and 6 angles. In addition, the 6 outer triangles can be folded into the hexagon and create 6 internal overlapping triangles.

The book Solomon’s seal (dated to the first century C.E.) tells about King Solomon who caught a devil by using an enchanted seal that God gave him. According to Jewish and Muslim traditions this seal was in the shape of a five or six pointed star. In the 10th paragraph of the book King Solomon asks the devil which zodiacal sign rules over him and the devil answers that he obeys Aquarius. In the 73 paragraph of the book, one of the zodiacal signs presents itself to King Solomon as the first sign, Aries.

In Opus Medico-Chymicum, an alchemy book by Johann Daniel Mylius published in 1618, one of the illustrations shows a six-pointed star representing the planets surrounded by the zodiac wheel. The general structure of this illustration is very similar to the Bir Chana mosaic mentioned above, even though 1300 years separate between them.

At the Cathedral of Cologne, Germany there is a statue called Virgo Immaculata which was created in 1749. It shows 12 hexagrams around Virgin Mary’s head, representing the 12 zodiac signs. It seems like an illustration of the verse from Revelation Chapter 12:1-2:

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

[1] Donald A. Mackenzie, Myths of Babylonia And Assyria, 1915, project Gutenberg, Chapter XIII- Astrology and Astronomy.
[2] In a Hebrew article by Dr. Gabriel H. Cohen from the Bible Department of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel

 [3] Buber Edition Parashat Vayechi 16

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Magen David - Porto- Portugal

Igreja de São Francisco - 12th Century
(c) Iara czeresnia 2016

Friday, June 10, 2016

Jewish Warsaw Ghetto Police Arm Band Early 1940s

Jewish Warsaw Ghetto Police Arm Band Early 1940s
Source: wikipedia