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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.


He believes

that the owners of the silver plates interpreted this verse in a concrete

and real fashion and practiced it by placing the



that was

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

Birkat Kohanim

, which

was written on the silver plates, on the body.

And indeed, this interpretation is appealing for the resemblance,

reflected by it, between placing the

Birkat Kohanim

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

’, that

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?