Colors of Religion: Judaism

Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people, based on principles and ethics embodied in the Tanakh (The Torah, or Hebrew Bible) and the Talmud. According to Jewish tradition, the history of Judaism begins circa 2000 BCE with the Covenant between God and Abraham, the patriarch and progenitor of the Jewish people. Judaism is among the oldest religious traditions still in practice today. Jewish history and doctrines have influenced other religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Samaritanism. Throughout the Torah, there are many references made to colour, which is used to symbolize these important principles and ethics.

silhouetted star of david

Because blue is the colour of sea and sky, it has come to represent the Divine, height and depth, and even equilibrium. But it is also revered as the colour of God’s Glory. The Torah instructs Israelites to put fringes, or tzitzit, on the corners of their garments and weave within those fringes blue threads as another separation, the first notable separation being diet, from non-Jewish people, which discouraged conforming to the acts of heathens and sin. If tempted, they would see the fringe and be reminded of God. Because of this it is also used in Jewish Prayer Shawls. The Flag of Israel has two blue stripes and a blue Star of David against a white background. In modern Hebrew ‘blue-white’ is used a synonym for ‘Israeli’ as an adjective, especially for local produce opposed to imported goods.

Israeli Flag     silhouetted David

red open menorah

Scarlet (Tola’at) and Crimson (Shani) have been used to symbolize blood, and has come to symbolize because of this life itself. More commonly, red is used to represent sin as well as joy and happiness. In contrast to the red of sin, purple is used as the colour of the purification from sin.

open menorah     open fire
man holding salt    

White (Shesh) was used to symbolize intellectual purity and innocence as it is the true colour of light without any alteration. White can also symbolize life and death. Salt was declared to be necessary in every meal-offering, in which it takes the place of the blood in the animal sacrifices. In the Talmud salt symbolizes the Torah, for as the world can not exist without salt, so it can not endure without the Torah.

salt of the earth

Precious metals have also been used in Jewish symbolism. Gold was the symbol of the divine or celestial light and the Glory of God, much like blue. Silver was the emblem of moral innocence and of holiness. Brass symbolized hardness, strength, and firmness and was used as a substitute for gold, and iron for silver.

silver & gold

    silver and gold bullion

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Colors of Religion Series:
Colors of Islam
Colors of Hinduism
Colors of Christianity
Colors of Buddhism

Author: ruecian

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