Silver is a precious metal that has been used by mankind for thousands of years. Prized for its rarity and its beauty, silver was originally used as a form of currency before becoming more commonly used as a decorative material in ornaments and jewelry.
Silver is also important in a religious context, particularly for the Jewish faith. In Judaism, the material is used in the construction of silver Judaica, such as Shabbat candlesticks and Kiddush cups. Why does silver play such an important role in Judaism? Let’s find out.
The History of Silver in Judaism
Judaism is one of the oldest religions in the world, thought to have originated between the ninth and the fifth century BCE. Silver runs through the story of the history of Judaism like a thread, it can be found mentioned in ancient religious texts, which described its use as a form of payment, usually in the form of bullion or coin. Silver also carried with it a number of symbolic meanings during these ancient times, it was used to denote a sense of prosperity and social status.
Gold was also used as a form of payment in those days, but its greater rarity and lesser durability made it less optimal than silver for everyday use. In fact, it is silver’s greater availability that makes it so important to the Jewish faith, according to certain texts. Gold’s rarity makes it almost transcendental in nature, representative of man’s chance to access the kingdom of God. On the other hand, silver’s relative accessibility symbolizes the presence of divinity on earth.
Silver in Judaism Today
The idea of using silver as a form of payment is an antiquated one. While it is still a valuable commodity and used by traders as a form of investment, it has long since become obsolete as a viable or practical monetary system. Today, silver is used mainly in manufacturing and jewelry, where it is still prized for the qualities it possesses.
In Judaism, silver is used in the construction of various items of Judaica. These are often used in religious ceremonies or to respect particular Jewish customs and traditions. For example, Shabbat candlesticks are often made out of silver. Shabbat candles are lit every Friday evening on the eve of the Sabbath. Generally, two Shabbat candles are lit to represent the distinction between light and dark, as told in the story of creation. The lighter then covers their eyes and recites a blessing to honor the day of the Sabbath.
Kiddush cups are also often made out of silver. These are used to bless wine drank during the meal eaten on the eve of the Sabbath.
The Jewish faith has numerous customs and traditions that have been passed down over thousands of years. Silver has been and remains an incredibly important material for Jewish people, and it plays an extremely important role in the religion. While it may not be used in the same way as it was in ancient times, it is still valued for its beauty and its historical and spiritual significance.