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Judaism Personal Protection

Gold amulets and case. Irbid, Jordan, 5th–6th century. NYPL, Manuscripts and Archives Division.

An amulet is an object believed to ward off evil or injury. The talmudic term for amulet is kame‘a, derived from a root meaning "to bind" or "to hang," reflecting the custom of attaching the amulet to the person or object it was meant to protect. Amulets seek to invoke the power of esoteric divine and angelic names and their use was widespread across the ancient world. Medieval Jewish authorities were divided on the permissibility of amulets. Maimonides (1135–1204) was vigorously opposed to their use and condemned them as folly. On the other hand, Nahmanides (1194–1270) permitted them, perhaps realizing the futility of legislating against a tradition so deeply embedded in popular practice.

The discovery of these amulets, entombed with their Jewish owners, is an indication that their apotropaic powers - that is, having the power to avert evil or bad luck - were expected to remain effective in the next world.