I am very fortunate. Why? Because I travel and have an interesting circle of friends and acquaintances from all walks of life. Americans who are Asian, Hispanic, and Black, and people on almost every continent and dozens of countries that my husband and I know from work and travel. They are Christians, Hindus, Muslims, and Jews; young, old, and in-between; religiously observant and not.
Yet as diverse as they are, I have found that they all have one thing in common: They all seem to notice the simple red string around my wrist and ask me about it.
It’s rare to be able to say, “I have a personal FAQ,” but I do. And it’s “Why are you wearing a red string?”
My response is as interesting and compelling to my friends and acquaintances as their wide-ranging histories and cultural practices are to me. But more significantly—my response always inspires the same reaction from each and every one of them.
I am happy to answer this question to anyone that asks it, but the answer takes more than just a short sentence or two response! The red string that I wear means more to me than most would think. I look at it often and contemplate its power in my life. I find comfort in wearing it. The red string is near and dear to my heart and once you read this, I hope it will become near and dear to you, too.
You may also enjoy reading about my connections with many faiths.
Why I Wear a Red String
This is my response when they ask me why I wear a red string around my wrist:
“I wear this red string around my wrist as a talisman because it is thought to have magical powers of protection. It is said to ward off misfortune and attract good luck. It’s a tradition associated with some of the most observant forms of Orthodox Judaism and Kabbalah. While I am not Orthodox, I believe in its power.”
The string is made from thin red wool, and I am sure it is not a coincidence that it is such a vibrant shade of this powerful hue. Wearing a red string dates back to biblical times, so this isn’t a newfangled fad.
I wear it on my left wrist, nearest to my heart. Seven tiny knots secure it. My husband, Shelly, wears one as well. It makes me feel protected, empowered, honored, and closer to my religion. Many other members of my family wear them, too.
The Rules of the Red String
Rule #1 Don’t Cut or Take Off Your Red String Bracelet
As part of this ritual, you must never cut off the string. It has to fall off the wearer on its own accord, at which time a loved one ties another red string around the wearer’s wrist. They stay on for different amounts of time for different people, considering regular wear and tear and daily activities for each of us are different.
My last string stayed on my wrist for exactly one year to the day. And the one I am currently wearing is approaching that benchmark, and I am curious to see how long it will last.
Once your string falls off, you are to have a loved one tie a new one on you. I only tie strings on my family or dearest friends, as this is a great role and honor to have. So think about who you would like to have to tie your string.
Rule #2 Wear Your Kabbala Bracelet on Your Left Wrist
Will it matter if I wear it on my right wrist? Yes. It is worn on the left wrist because the left side of the body is the receiving side.
Rule #3 Have a Loved One Tie Your Red String
First of all, I don’t just tie a red string on for anyone, I only do it for someone whom I care about deeply. The process goes like this:
- I have the person sit, and I stand in front of them.
- When I start the process, I say, “I want to give you this gift because I really care about you.”
- Then I begin tieing the string to their left wrist. I let them know that I’m going to tie it tight but that it will relax. I do this so it won’t snag on doorways, etc.
- In Judaism and many other religions, the number seven is significant and lucky. For this reason, I tie the string seven times.
- As I tie the string, I recite the following, “May this red string guard and protect you. It’s given to you with love.”
Here’s a video showing how to tie the red string bracelet:
Who Can Wear a Kabbalah Bracelet?
The string comes down to faith — faith of any and all kinds. After all, that is what it represents. Anyone can wear a string and believe in it, therefore carrying their own faith with them wherever they go.
This seemingly simple red wool string holds a significant meaning for many, myself included. Legend says that it has powers of protection, it wards off misfortune and brings good luck. You do not have to be Orthodox or Jewish at all to wear one of these.
But today, thanks to many celebrities who have embraced this tradition (such as Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mick Jagger, and dozens more), it is most associated with Judaism’s Kabbalah, the ancient Jewish tradition of mystical interpretation of the Bible.
Where the Tradition Comes From
In fact, the custom of wearing the red string dates back to biblical times, as is mentioned in Genesis 38.
After I explain the meaning of the string to someone, I always get the same questions, which, in truth, makes it clear anyone can embrace this practice. So I am sharing them with you, dear readers, in the event that you want to embrace this tradition.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Red String
- Do you have an extra string to tie on my wrist?
I only tie the red string on my family or my dearest friends. So my answer always depends on who is asking. But the lesson for you is that if this is something you can embrace yourself, since red strings can be purchased online, and passed on to others whom you want to touch in a meaningful way.
- How will I replace my red string when it falls off on its own?
My red strings are from Jerusalem. I get them at the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem from religious Jewish women for a small donation. I will only wear red strings from Israel because these women bless them, and that holds great meaning for me. However, you can purchase them online.
- How do you feel wearing your red string?
I feel protected by something “bigger.” I feel closer to my religion. I know I am portraying who I am.
- What’s the best place to buy a red string online?
I do not endorse any one source, but these are sold by many online sources, including Amazon, the Red String from the Kabbalah Centre, and more.
Never Run Out of Red String
So far, I have never run out of strings for my family and close friends. And that’s a good thing because I can’t tell you how often I receive emails and texts with this message:
“My red string fell off! I feel lost without it! Please send another one soon…if you can!”
I can and I do. Thank goodness I brought back a number of Kabbalah “blessed red strings from Israel” last time I was there. And next time I go, I will be sure to deepen my stash. After all, and fortunately for me, my world of family and friends is always expanding.
DO YOU WEAR A RED STRING BRACELET? PLEASE SHARE IN THE COMMENTS.
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