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[Tidbits] Italian Jewish Wedding Ring

Behold you are consecrated unto me with this ring according to the
law of Moses and Israel.

The above is the Jewish wedding vow. According to the Talmud it is
required that the ring belongs to the groom and it is to be of solid
metal with no gems adorning it. A simple unbroken band is used to
uphold the sacredness of marriage without materialistic detractions.

This still holds true today… but with the knowledge that once the
ceremony is over and she is his and he is hers… and the legal
procedures are over… and tradition has had its day in the sun…
well… there are prettier rings that you can get me when money isn’t
so tight hunny bunny.

Ah… but it t’weren’t always so. Nay nay. Let’s take a little trek
back to the sixteenth and seventeenth century Venice why don’t we.
Jewish wedding rings were a bit more ornate back then… and as often
as not they were ornately enameled and intricately decorated with
gold filigree of the highest artistic caliber.

Usually these were wide bands atop of which rested tiny–yet
accurate–representations of gabled houses and/or synagogues with
tall roofs and miniature gates that opened upward toward the heavens.
Often these rings had carved into them the words: Mazel Tov… which
means good luck.

After the ceremony… these rings were removed and held in safe
keeping by a family member. These rings were not your stuff of every
day wear folks. Like a Wedding Gown… they were to be used once and
then stored… for use by another perhaps… or not. But either
way… stored they were.

As it happens… I have one to show you. Who woulda thunk it?

For those of you who are new to this thing called Tidbits…may I
direct you to my home page at where you will
scroll down the left side menu till you get to the area that says
Current Tidbits… and then click on it in order to view a 16th
century gold Italian Jewish Wedding Ring.

And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
Benjamin Mark


recently I found a ring (yep, found an 8mm, size 11, 18kt band on
the ground near a stream in the smoky mts.) inside was engraved a
date and “miz pah” any comments?

I have limited hebrew and less mid-eastern linguistic skills, but I
can’t figure this one out… (though probably obvious it eludes me!)


Dear Rourke,

inside was engraved a date and "miz pah" any comments?

See Genesis chapter 31 vs 49. It’s Hebrew and represents a friendship
agreement between the previously alienated Laban and Jacob. It’s to
represent God looking over them whenever they are apart. Mizpah has
been used in jewellery in recent years in the form of a two-part
medallion where one part is kept by one friend and the other by the
other friend.

Preston, UK

recently I found a ring (yep, found an 8mm, size 11, 18kt band on
the ground near a stream in the smoky mts.) inside was engraved a
date and "miz pah" any comments? 

I have limited hebrew and less mid-eastern linguistic skills, but I
can’t figure this one out… (though probably obvious it eludes me!)

Uhhhh… I would wager it is a wedding band with the date of the
nuptials and two sets of initials…No language skills needed. You
may start banging your head on nearest table now. Put an add in the
local paper. Owner will identify the ring by the engraving…Unless
of course, the person threw the ring in the water to begin

Lisa, (goats escaped through the fence yesterday and went on a grape
rampage. Today…two very fat and repentant goats. Ok…I lied
about the repentant part) Topanga, USA

Lisa Bialac-Jehle

In my experience, “Mizpah” is used in the phrase, “Mizpah
benediction.” It comes from Genesis 31:49, in which Jacob and his
father-in-law, Laban, make a treaty with each other.

The Hebrew root is sade-pey-hey, meaning “to look out, spy, keep
watch.” Mizpah is the nominal form, meaning approximately, “Outlook
point,” or “watch-tower.”

The part of the verse used as a “benediction” is (in the King James
Version), “May the Lord watch between me and thee, when we are
absent, one from the other.” It sounds good as a benediction, but the
modern irony is that in its ancient context, the passage is closer to
being a threat, since Jacob has finally left Laban (whose daughters
are Jacob’s wives, and whose flocks Jacob has earned and taken) and
is headed back to Palestine. Laban pursues them, but eventually
realizes he cannot prevail. So he makes a treaty (covenant) with
Jacob, using a pile of rocks as witness of the treaty, that Jacob
always treat his wives fairly and that Jacob and Laban stay out of
each other’s territory. Laban calls the place “Galeed” and also

The benediction understanding is the way that “Mizpah” is most often
used in the Church; how the word may be used in the synagogue or
elsewhere is beyond my experience.

Judy Bjorkman

No, actually it’s Hebrew and is taken from the bible, Genesis 31 v
49. Mizpah signifies a friendship pact/agreement between Laban and
Jacob after being alienated from each other. It signifies God
looking over them and keeping them safe whenever they are apart.

Miz pah has been used in jewellery as tokens of friendship. A pendant
in two halves, where one friend wears one half and the other friend
wears the other half.

Preston, UK

MIZPAH goes back thousands of years, symbolizing a sanctuary and
place of hopeful anticipation, a place where seemingly impossible
may happen as of divine intervention or an inspiration.

MIZPAH is mentioned for the first time in the Bible ( Genesis 31,
around 1800 BC) as a powerful watchword, when Jacob and Laban agree
at Gilead to a godsent peace. They built a memento of stone and
named it like their wise covenant MIZPAH, saying: The Lord watch
between me and thee when we are absent one from another". Mizpah of
Gilead became the “blueprint” for more places called MIZPAH in the

Building MIZPAH monuments was an ancient tradition in the promised
land. MIZPAH signified a striking humane, tolerant and solution
orientated approach to human issues, (a thought and act more than
becoming to certain corners of the globe today).

Before MIZPAH, and sadly until today too everything was about
material possessions, hatred, power - the holy scriptures alone are
full of it, let alone history. MIZPAH introduced the clearly defined
moral qualities of GOODNESS, KINDNESS and the courage to
UNDERSTANDING to a time so very tough that we can hardly imagine it
now. Yet everything, any obstacle can be overcome with good will and
determination. That was, is and always will be the heart of the true
meaning of MIZPAH.

Good evening Mr. Rourke, Forgive me for not remembering your first
name. That said…

I asked Baruch and Ytzak and Moishe and Haim… and here’s the
conglome rate of what I got.

Let’s start with Mizpah and Mizpeh. Mizpeh in Hebrew means
Watchtower. The feeling is that Mizpah is a derivative of Mispeh.
That said… I shall continue.

Jacob was in love with Rachel and wanted to marry her. He went to
Laban-Rachel’s father… and asked for her hand. Laban agreed… but
only after Jacob gave him seven years of servitude. Jacob… strong
and lustful and passionate youth that he was - don’t mind the
occasional extrapolation… it’s in my nature - agreed and gave Laban
the seven years. When the time came for the betrothal… Laban took
Jacob into his dark dark tent… and the ceremony was completed.
Alas… Laban tricked Jacob… and gave him his daughter Leah
(spellingi). But but but, said Jacob. I wanted Rachel. You want
Rachel, said Laban. Another seven years and you can have Rachel. The
next part is not clear to me as to whether Jacob served the second
seven years or not… but the upshot of it was that Jacob ran away
with Rachel and married her. He now had two wives - every man’s dream
or nightmare. Laban was not happy. He went to seek Jacob out and
found him. At this point Jacob climbed atop a high hill-a watchtower
if you will… a mizpeh… and awaited Laban who he was sure was
after his blood. But it wasn’t so. Peace was made… and a
covenant was made … and forevermore they would be friends.

Today this expression of friendship is symbolized by the word mizpah
(derivative of mizpeh)… usually in the form of a charm… half for
the first party… half for the second party and blahbedi blah blah.