The hand is a sign of protection, blessings, power, and strength
Our maternal grandmother used to tfu, tfu, tfu us (it’s amazing what I’ll turn into a verb these days). Our mom would throw a well-timed “bli ayin hara” or “kein ayin hara” when she talked about people’s beauty or good luck. But we’re once again picking favorites, and our Sephardic side wins. While I have no recollection of my grandparents, uncles, aunts, or father having superstitions or invoking sayings or items to offset bad luck, I married into a Moroccan family, and my mother-in-law has made me fall in love with amulets to counteract the effects of the evil eye.
Aside from the mezuzah, the most popular protectors from the evil eye in modern culture are the red string, the blue eye bead, the fish, and the hamsa.
Traditionally, red was viewed as defending against the evil eye. One of the items required for building the Mishkan, the portable Tabernacle that accompanied the Jewish people in the desert, was red thread. The red dye came from a type of worm, teaching that even the lowly worm has a role in God's dwelling place. From here, the red thread worn on the wrist was meant to remind us to gain inspiration from God and keep our egos in check, and this humility serves as the ultimate weapon against the evil eye.
The blue bead/charm is meant to mirror back the blue of the evil eye and thus confuse it (did I mention that blue-eyed people are viewed as carriers of the evil eye?). According to the Talmud, the fish is immune to the evil eye, since it lives under water, so it has been adopted as an effective amulet.
I know…I ran through those last couple with a quickness, so I could get to the hamsa. The hamsa has other names, as well, such as the hand of Miriam, the hand of G-d, or the hand of Fatima. Hamsa is the number five in Arabic, and the digits on the hand. The hand is a sign of protection, blessings, power, and strength, and the hamsa is seen both in jewelry and in home décor.
When we decided to launch a shop, I knew that the hamsa would figure prominently in what we offered. Its beauty, its symbolism, and its rich ties to history (not just Jewish history, but African, Greek, and Arab) make it irresistible to me.
When we were in LA over Pesach (not that my family realized that it was Pesach), I found a Tunisian man who introduced me to one of the first items we’ll offer in the shop – a hamsa dipper. This incredible creation, handmade and hand-painted, separates into 6 small plates from the palm and fingers and reveals a large hamsa-shaped serving plate underneath. Mine is proudly displayed in my dining room, and I can’t wait for you to add one to your home.