Thursday, February 14, 2008

629. Choshen

I spent many years singing in choirs on the topics of love, loss, and all manner of (mostly non-Jewish) spiritual experience--but I never made music about holy jewels, as I will this coming Shabbat morning. My section of Tetzaveh concerns the choshen hamishpat, the "breastplate of decision" that the High Priest wore above his apron-like multi-colored garment. I get to describe it line by line, and hope that people will see something like this in their mind's eye as they read along in English:

(Illustration from Wikipedia)

Until this week I didn't realize how many choshenim (choshenot?) were in my life, and then took a closer look at the ornamentation on my candlesticks:

(They came from an Israeli crafts fair, and you can buy them online here.)

Perhaps some congregants will be wearing the ever-popular choshen necklace on Shabbat morning:

And if there is such a thing as a choshen tie, F., our gabbai, will have it on.

On the one hand it seems sacrilegious to hang a tiny holy breastplate from your neck or ears, but on on the other, what better way to remember Aaron, who got to wear much nicer clothing than his brother? I would love to see a choshen design on a "kittel of decision" (rather than of eternal rest) for the hazzan to wear on Simhat Torah, a holiday when jewels of joy would make perfect accessories.


Regina said...

Oh, your candlesticks are beautiful!

aa, how popular is it for Jews to wear symbolic jewelery and is it seen as something sacrilegious or just tacky? I know growing up as a Christian, we were always wearing something on our person that symbolized some aspect of our belief... so maybe that's an aspect of my journey to Judaism that can be maintained... or not...

Just wondering... my heart is set on getting a beautiful Star of David necklace someday... but I don't want to offend.

Shabbat Shalom, dear friend...

alto artist said...

It is very popular and perfectly good! (It's only tacky if the jewelry is tacky... ) There's a tradition called "hiddur mitzvah"--making a mitzvah as beautiful as possible, whether by wearing a gorgeous tallit, displaying exquisite candlesticks, or setting your Shabbat table with the finest silver. And jewelry falls into that category of enhancing and beautifying the observance of a mitzvah. Some people are more comfortable than others displaying visible signs of their religion--it really comes down to personal preference. There is a custom in Judaism of avoiding representational art, which could be mistaken for an idol (i.e., you won't see any statues of Moses)--but symbolic, abstract art is very popular. Some survivors are also uncomfortable wearing Stars of David because of Holocaust references. But in general--Stars of David, "chai" necklaces, even little "choshen" necklaces ( I may get one of those myself!) are wonderful.

Shabbat Shalom!