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  • Lara Crigger

What’s So Great About The Color Blue?

Updated: Feb 26

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What's So Great About The Color Blue?

The Israeli flag, in motion

The color blue features in this week’s Torah portion quite a bit. The blue yarn asked for in T’rumah is used for the priestly vestments; blue sapphires are used in the “breastplate of decision;” and two engraved lapis lazuli stones cap off the priestly shoulder pads.


In modern times, the color blue remains deeply connected to Judaism. It’s become a cultural shorthand for anything Jewish (especially around Hannukah), probably because of the Israeli flag, whose colors are blue and white.


So why is blue such an important color to Jews—and, by extension, to the state of Israel?


For starters, there’s the obvious worship connection. In addition to the color’s appearance in the original priestly vestments, blue is one of the acceptable colors for use in tzitzit.


However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that blue (and white) began to be more widely associated with Jewish cultural identity. An 1864 poem by Ludwig August Frankl titled, “Judah’s Colors,” declared blue and white to be our unofficial color scheme, saying:


These are the colors of the beloved country,

Blue and white are the borders of Judah;

White is the radiance of the priesthood,

And blue, the splendors of the firmament (Source)


From there, the colors became intrinsic to Zionist identity, featuring in slogans, posters, protest flags, and more. Even from the days of the First Aliyah, when Jews immigrated back to our ancestral homeland in the late 19th century, we flew banners that came in blue, white, or both.


Okay, but… why blue? Why not, say, gold, which features plenty in worship practices and in various Torah passages (not to mention a precious metal)?


The answer may be all around us. Blue is the color of the sky, where the divine throne is said to be, and the color of the oceans from which all life on this planet first arose. Blue is peaceful and calming, yet it evokes vastness and great potential.


From the Kabbalistic tradition, blue is the color associated with hokhmah, or Wisdom—specifically, the wisdom of God’s creative spark: “Hokhmah (Wisdom) represents the first impulse to Create, as it arose in the Creator.” (Source) That is to say: The color blue evokes the act of Creation itself.


No wonder then that, when it came time for us to create a flag to represent our new country, we Jews reached for the color blue. It’s the color of creating new things—an ideal choice for this nation of builders as they brought to life the first and only Jewish state in modern times.


 

Dara Horn On Why Educated Americans Fall For Antisemitism

Friend of Gates of Prayer Dara Horn has published a new essay in The Atlantic, Why The Most Educated People In America Fall For Anti-Semitic Lies.” In it, she busts the myth that antisemitism is primarily driven by ignorance. Far from it: Throughout history, anti-semitism has flourished in institutions of higher learning. She examines famous examples of this phenomenon, including anecdotes from her own time on Harvard’s Anti-Semitism task force.


 

Listen to This: "Black Sunrise"

Former hostage Mia Leimberg, the 17-year-old girl whose dog remained by her side for nearly two months in captivity, released this single with Israeli rockstar Aviv Geffen, “Black Sunrise,” about the October 7th attacks.


I first found the song on The Times of Israel website, which explains the story behind the song’s recording. It’s a haunting song of witness, and it captures the impatience we all feel to see these hostages returned home.


Please be aware that the song describes the attacks (though without graphic detail) and the video features footage of the destroyed kibbutzim attacked on October 7th. Please listen and view with care.



 

One Way To Help Israel Right Now: Freedom Tags

Have you seen the dog tags that politicians, celebrities, faith leaders, and regular people have been wearing that say, in Hebrew and English, "Bring Them Home Now"? These are Freedom Tags. 100% of the profits of Freedom Tags is donated to the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, which works tirelessly to bring captives back to their families.


Learn more at FreedomTags.Org


 

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