Modern kabbalah jewelry is the offspring of traditional mizhwoth, particularly the tfilin (phylacteries), zhizhith (tassels), and mezuzoth (doorposts). Many related kabbalah beliefs and teachings have arisen, physical and spiritual, reverent and superstitious. The tfilin and zhizhith were to be worn reverently, while the word “mezuzah” came to mean the small scroll attached ceremoniously to the doorpost, or the scroll’s container. In each case, like modern kabbalah jewelry as well, the physical operation represented a spiritual reality: the zhizhith as submission to covenant relationship, and the tfilin and mezuzoth as submission to Torah.
Kabbalah jewelry today, and indeed most Jewish jewelry, begins with the same principle: what is worn publicly makes a proclamation of one’s status, particularly one’s availability in service to the principle proclaimed. Kabbalah jewelry proclaims a covenant between Self and Other, a commitment for oneself to grow in harmony.
The secondary principle of kabbalah jewelry is to invoke protection or aegis, and it is essential to know from what or whom the protection of kabbalah jewelry is sought. The commitment and covenant must be made with God as Ein Sof, or cosmic order, or Torah, rather than some lesser “reflected light”, because invoking covenant with anything less than the full echad of the cosmos is seeking incomplete protection. Kabbalah jewelry does not work automatically, but works as one employs it as a means to recommit oneself daily or weekly to one’s selfless pursuit of God.
A kabbalah amulet, usually a necklace, may contain a tiny sofer scroll, but more commonly in today’s Judaica jewelry is fashioned of a Hebrew word, phrase, or symbol. The author wears a necklace of frayed, knotted red string, with a pendant invoking submission to the cosmic order of the olam haba (the coming Messianic Age). One of the most common symbols in Judaica jewelry, besides variations of the Magen Dawid itself (the six-pointed star), is the hamsa or hand symbol. This represents submission to the five books of Torah and also testifies to the principle of working for fellowship with everyone whom one meets.
A necklace indicates submission to the yoke of Torah through kabbalah and thus represents a covenant between Self and Ein Sof as revealed in Torah. Unlike some other Jewish jewelry, it can be worn privately, within one’s garments. It is particularly instructive to have a morning ritual of donning a necklace and dropping its room-temperature pendant into one’s garment, because the feeling of coldness sliding against one’s skin is not unlike swallowing medicine, and it physically reminds one of the covenant of submission.
The “God bracelet” or kabbalah red string bracelet is, by contrast, a public and unadorned item of kabbalah jewelry. It too may be frayed and knotted, indicating humility and selflessness. Aside from the deep traditional symbolisms of scarlet thread, the kabbalah red string bracelet has also taken on a modern covenantal meaning of requesting God’s protection from negativity (a complex of factors traditionally called “evil eye”).
Like any kabbalah jewelry, the God bracelet itself does not perform the protection automatically: it proclaims that one is already protected, having come under covenant by previously clinging to Ein Sof for that protection. Out of the principle of chesed (mercy), God provides such protection to all who request it, and even provides the ability to request it; out of the complementary principle of gevurah (justice), God requires that they do request it, and then that they proclaim it. Because kabbalah jewelry is supplemental, it is best to accompany the kabbalah red string bracelet with a more specific proclamation of one’s faith, using traditional religious jewelry.