The Name of the LORD on the Body
The wording of the blessing on these plates is somewhat different from
the traditional wording, yet the difference does not concern our current
inquiry and requires separate research. This discovery, nonetheless, has led
A. Demski to offer a new interpretation to this difficult verse.
that the owners of the silver plates interpreted this verse in a concrete
and real fashion and practiced it by placing the
engraved on the silver, on their body (hand or neck) as a type of amulet or
prayer attached to the body through a skin strap or wick. That is, “put My
name” is interpreted here as an actual placing of the
was written on the silver plates, on the body.
And indeed, this interpretation is appealing for the resemblance,
reflected by it, between placing the
on the body and the
custom of tying the
on the body, and especially since we know,
from an Aramaic document, and as G. Barkai noted, that ‘
teffila ze ksf
is ‘a prayer of silver’.
Moreover, both costumes display a similar, concrete
approach to the command. That is, placing the text, in which the person
is commanded to carry out the practice, on the body: in one place the
portion (times the four places it appears) commands “and thou shalt bind
them for a sign upon thy hand”,
while in the other the command is to “put
My name upon the children of Israel”.
However, despite this convincing argument, it seems that this is not
the meaning of the verse, as indicated by the words “My name”. The
literal interpretation of the bible indicates that the name of the LORD
(alone) should be placed upon the children of Israel, and not the entire
. That is to say, even if some interpreted the verse in a
concrete fashion as placing the entire
on their body,
this practice went beyond the command of the biblical text. What is,
then, the meaning of the verse, and what is it that we place on the body?