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Shivviti

SHIVVITI

SHIVVITI (Heb. שִׁוִּיתִי), the opening word, in Hebrew, of the verse: "I have set the Lord always before me" (Ps. 16:8). As a part of the daily prayer, the word became a cliché for Jewish devotion and common language. During the 18th and 19th centuries, and up to the present a votive tablet called "Shivviti," principally containing the above verse, was put up in front of those praying in the synagogue. These synagogue plaques contain other verses, concerning the Law and the Torah. Most of them were profusely decorated in shapes and colors. The most common motifs of decoration were the seven-branched menorah of the Temple, and symbolic buildings representing different "Holy Places" in Ereẓ Israel, such as Jerusalem or the tombs of sages and righteous men. Some are decorated with animals or mythical beasts and persons. Others serve as amulets, containing magical symbols, such as the Magen David, and magical verses. Most of the Shivviti plaques derive from Eastern Europe in the 19th century. There are, however, some plaques which come from North Africa, mainly from Morocco.

[Bezalel Narkiss]

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