At JesusBoat.com we are often asked “Why Judaica?” Why is it needed, where did it come from? The answer is of course found in the Torah as well as in the traditions of Judaism. In the Book of Exodus God begins the long process of giving His chosen people His commandments. In Hebrew these individually are called “mitzvah”, collectively they are “mitzvoth”. These cover all aspects of life and are specific instructions as to how God wants his faithful to live.
Living according to God’s commandments is the utmost important, but it was then asked is it enough to merely comply with the commandments? What more can be done in the glory of God? Each individual needs to decide these questions for himself. However, a Torah portion to contemplate is found in then events that occurred just after God’s parting of the Red Sea. After God saved the Israelites from the Egyptians, Moses, Miriam and the Children of Israel sang God’s praises. In the words of this song is the phrase, “This is my God, and I will glorify Him”. (Ex 15:2).
In Judaism, this has been taken to mean that it is not just our duty to obey God’s Word, but to revel in it. We need to go beyond the simple words of the commandment, make it our own and make it beautiful. There is much beauty in fulfilling the commandments themselves; however, striving to make the mitvot as beautiful as possible is to the exaltation of God.
Exodus 35 God tells the Israelites how to build the Tabernacle and subsequently how to fabricate the equipment, objects and garments required while fulfilling His commandments. This was the origin of Judaica. Through Moses He required they, “bring to the Lord an offering of gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood...” (Exodus 35:6-7). They were to beatify the Tabernacle and invest themselves in fulfilling the commandments.
As we practice His Word today, there are those mitzvoth require a physical object, or Judaica, to complete. The commandment to wear the fringe (Numbers 15:37-40) requires a prayer shawl, the commandment to inscribe God’s Law on the doorposts of our house (Deuteronomy 6:9) requires a mezuzah. Judaica gives you the chance to not just fulfill, but personalize the commandment and invest yourself in it. By taking the time to select the physical objects needed in fulfilling commandments you are giving more attention and mindfulness to the commandment.
Today beautiful Judaica is created by Israeli artisans whose God given talents “to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts.” (Exodus. 35:32-33) give us tallits, menorahs, mezuzahs, Kiddush cups, objects for holidays like Passover and Hanukkah, even inspirational jewelry. Their fine items give you the opportunity to beautify the commandments.
Faith in God is intrinsically beautiful. Our relationship with God through the joy and love of fulfilling God’s commandments is also beautiful. As we live our lives in accordance to God’s Word, through Judaica we can breathe life into the commandments and demonstrate our all-embracing commitment.