The Red String: A Bracelet for Blessings.
According to tradition, a red string is wound around the stone marker over
Rachel's grave seven times, while reciting various Hebrew prayers. Including Psalm 33, the mystical prayer
Ana B'Koach and Asher Yatzar. The string is then cut into bracelet size lengths and is worn on the
left hand as a symbolic request for spiritual and physical protection and
No one actually knows how or exactly when the custom of wearing a red string began. But we do know that every detail contains deep significance.
The Concept of Rachel according to Kabbalah
The name Rachel is related to the Hebrew word, rachil, meaning "a lamb" or
"sheep." A lamb stands still while it is being sheared. This symbolizes
humility. The lesson is that we must humble ourselves before G-d like a lamb
before its master.
Rachel Emeinu (Our Mother) also represents the World of Speech. It represents
another form of humility, in that speech has no "power" in and of itself. It
merely reveals the thought of the one who is speaking. So too, we should submit
ourselves to the Will of G-d.
The Ideals of Rachel
Just as Rachel did not envy Leah's good fortune (only her good deeds),
similarly we pray that no one envy our success. Just as Rachel prayed for
children and was answered, we pray that the childless be blessed with children.
And just Rachel was cured of her affliction, so too may the ill be returned to
The Concept of a String and the Color Red
Every morning, "a thread of grace prevails" and G-d renews the world for
another day. The string symbolizes that "thread of grace."
While the Hebrew word for "red," adom, emphasizes the unique relationship
between man and his Creater. For example, adom is related to many words such as
adama "earth, dam, "blood," adam "man," and Adam HaElyon, "Supernal man." Red
also reminds us of teshuva, the need to return to G-d by improving our ways, as
the sages say, "If your sins be as crimson, they will be as white as snow."
Seven Times and the Left Hand
The "seven times" correspond to seven days of the week, symbolizing the need
for G-d's constant protection. It also symbolizes the seven emotional
attributes, the seven times a bride encircles a groom, and the seven G-dly
emanations (sefirot). It may also recall the merit of the seven Holy Shepherds
responsible for bringing the Divine Presence down to Earth.
It is also known that the left heart is full of blood and is home to the
Nefesh, the vitalizing animal soul in a person. Wearing the string around the
left hand reminds the person of the "battle" that must be waged against one's
The number 33 correlates to the concept of the teshuva, as the Talmud
(Sanhedrin 103a) states that the wicked King Menashe repented for 33 years and
G-d received him." We also find that the 33rd day between Passover and the Feast
of Weeks (Shavuot) is a time that is associated with elevation and situations
changing for the better.
The Psalm itself consists of three parts: an introduction, a middle part
consisting of seven "sections" of recognition, and a conclusion thanking and
praising G-d for his deliverance. Full Text of the Psalm
This mystical poem consists of seven lines with six words per line. The total
of 42 words corresponds to one of the Holy Names of G-d. The initial letters of
each word also refer to this Holy Name. Interestingly, the Jewish people made 42
stops on their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. Each step represented
another step on the ladder of holiness. According to the founder of the Chassidic
movement, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov, each individual must make the same
spiritual journey during his/her lifetime. Perhaps saying this mystical poem is
a way of asking for G-d's assistance and protection during these 42 stages of
one's life. Full Text of Ana B'Koach
Wearing the Red String
As you can see from all this, the Red String Bracelet is a means, rather than
an end. It serves as a channel to help awaken in ourselves and in the One Above
our desire for connection and protection. Wearing the Red String signals your
intention to open yourself up to receive G-d's blessings by trying to become a
better person, by performing acts of goodness and kindness, and by remembering
that humility is not only an attribute of G-d, its the sign of a G-dly person.
Finally, wearing the Red String signals your belief in the righteous merit of
our Rachel Emeinu (Our Mother).
Good luck and may all your requests for blessings be fulfilled.