The Meaning of the Patterns & Symbols

Talmudic and Kabbalistic symbols are found throughout the various parts of the Henna dress. For example, 18 or 26 golden braids in the form of quarter-circles are affixed and embroidered onto the velvet skirt. These numbers have special Kabbalistic significance, 18 being the numerical value of the Hebrew word hai (“life”). As for the number 26, in Jewish mystical thought it symbolizes the complete Name of G-d. Embroidered onto the skirt is the pattern of a wreath of wheat, a symbol of bread and abundance. This wreath crowns a group of plants, symbolizing the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden. The breastplate recalls the actual breastplate worn by the Cohen Gadol (High Priest), which was illuminated by 12 precious stones that symbolized the 12 tribes of Israel. It also embodies the concept of unity. The pomegranate, embroidered onto the breastplate, recalls the actual fruit itself, which in Judaism symbolizes both fertility and the 613 commandments prescribed by Moses. Sometimes we find two doves facing one another on the breastplate, a symbol of shalom (peace), the peace of the home and the harmony of the couple. On the night of the Henna ceremony, the bride-to-be is crowned with a pearl-laden tiara known as a sfifa, or jemal in Spanish.