37th Day of the Omer — Discipline of Bonding (Gevurah sh’b’Yesod)
Generally, a palm-shaped amulet derived from the word for “five,” a hamsa is popular throughout the Middle East and North Africa. You often find it on wall hangings or jewelry, or, as you will see below, on doors. Believed to ward off the evil eye, in Islam, the five fingers are thought to represent the five pillars of the Islamic religion.
In Judaism, I like to think of it as “the right hand of God.” I have collected them for years, as for me, the open hand represents my pastoral work — spiritually keeping my heart and hands open to the relational encounter with the client and with God, as well as the physical act of holding someone’s hand in empathy or in prayer.
The Hand of Fatima refers to the prophet Mohammed’s daughter; in response some Jews call this symbol the “hand of Miriam.” There is also a teaching that the five fingers remind us to use our five senses to praise God.
However, not all hamsas are obviously hand- shaped, as you will see below. Some may look like flowers, like houses, or like weapons. Some may even appear sideways, as they do on two of the doors below.