Shiviti

Unknown Maker

The shiviti is a specific form of a magical amulet that derives its name from the verse, shiviti yhwh lenegdi tamid, “I have set the Lord before me always” (Ps 16:8). The amulet was typically written on parchment, paper, or silver. At a certain point in time it became customary to place the shiviti in the Synagogue, usually on the lectern that was placed before the Ark. Since it is incumbent upon one to face eastward (mizrach) when one prays, the Ark is set in the east and the shiviti assumed the name mizrachi. It is not uncommon for the shiviti to include the words of Psalm 67 spelled out in the form of a menorah, a custom that is based on the rabbinic teaching that if one recites the words of this psalm before the menorah one would be protected from the evil eye and one would succeed in all one’s endeavors. Given the importance of the shiviti as a magical shield as well as a device to facilitate proper meditation, it was not uncommon for wealthy and important members of the community to donate this to the Synagogue and often in auspicious times in the Jewish calendar.

Name: Shiviti
Artist: Unknown Maker
Location:
Origin: Poland: Pritzk, 1830
Medium: Ink on Parchment
Dimensions: 11 1/4 x 11 in.
Credit: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Philip Pinsof
Catalog Number: 75.4