Kabbalah Medals Issued by Israel
By Mel Wacks
Jewish tradition has long held that Kabbalah is so complicated and so easily misunderstood that students may only begin to approach it with a strong background in Jewish law and only after age 40. The “Kabbalah” entry in the Encycopaedia Judaica takes over 80 pages. Thus, it is a real challenge to present the concepts of Kabbalah on a medal that a person can hold in his or her hands. But that is exactly what Israel has attempted in producing a Kabbalah medal—it’s first issue in the standard size of 1 oz. of pure silver or gold—as well as a bronze edition.
This may be the first government medal that can also be considered as an amulet, since it features Psalm 67, written in the form of a Menorah (the seven-branched candelabrum), which is considered an amulet for protection and success. Kabbalists believe that reciting this Psalm helps to redeem the world. The verses correspond to these seven attributes of God:Lovingkindness, Might, Harmony, Victory, Splendor, Foundation, and Kingship.
Design by Ruben Nutels
To the left of the Menorah are leaves and 10 pomegranates, alluding to the 10 Sefirot and the important work of Rabbi Moshe Cordovero (1522-70) entitled "Pomegranate Orchard,” an encyclopedic presentation of the teachings of the Zohar and all kabbalist thought up to that time, completed when he was only 27; it became one of the most popular and influential texts of kabbalah and established him as a spiritual leader. Around the border, in Hebrew, is written: "And they who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament" (Daniel 12:3), a promise of a bright future for those who merit it and a subtle reference to the Book of the Zohar.
The other side of the Kabbalah medal features one of the most famous graphic renderings of Kabbalah thought—The Tree of Sephirot--that enumerate the attributes of God in three columns. The central column is known as the "Pillar of Mildness;" it is headed by Keter (the supreme crown of God); below are Tiferet (the beauty or compassion of God), Yesod (the foundation of all active forces in God) and Melkut (the kingdom of God). Chokhmah (wisdom) heads the right column of the tree, known as the "Pillar of Mercy"—is considered the male aspect--with Chesed (God’s love or mercy) and Netzach (the lasting endurance of God) below. The left column—known as the female aspect-- is called the "Pillar of Severity" and is headed by Binah (the understanding of God), followed by Gevurah (God’s power) and Hod (the majesty of God). Each attribute of God appears in a different color.
Design by Aron Shevo
In the background behind the tree are the first Hebrew verses in the Torah, the Book of Law, describing the Creation of the World, without spaces between the words. Between the letters of the Hebrew word " "בראשית (Bereshit meaning "In the beginning"), are the Hebrew letters forming "Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai", to whom the Book of the Zohar is attributed, and "Torat Or" (Doctrine of Light, referring to the Kabbalah), on either side of the tree. In the right-hand border, in Hebrew, is "Wisdom of the Kabbalah" and in the left-hand border "KABBALAH".
For those interested in delving further into this fascinating area of study—that has received a huge PR boost from modern adherents like Madonna—an explanatory booklet about the Kabbalah is included with each medal. Medals are available from the Israel Coins and Medals Corporation (israelmint.com) in bronze (26.8 gm., 38.6 mm., 1,800 maximum), pure silver (31.1 gm., 38.6 mm., 888 maximum), or pure gold (31.1 gm., .9999 fine, 38.6 mm., 120 maximum).
P.O. Box 20255
Fountain Hills, AZ 85268