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Monday, April 5, 2010

Today's Word: HAMSA

Arabic for "five," a HAMSA is a five-fingered, hand-shaped amulet popular throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In Arabic culture, the Hamsa also represents the hand of Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. While its roots are in Islam, the Hamsa has also taken on significance in Judaism. The five fingers of the Hamsa represent the five books of the Torah, and the number 5 also relates to the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, "heh," which is the abbreviation of "Hashem" - one of God's names. Often engraved with prayers to protect the user from harm, the Hamsa is worn as jewelry, or is hung on the wall, to protect against the evil eye.

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