404 Praying folded hands emoji and Rabbi Shlomo Aviner. Aviner Image: Arielhorowitz cc-by-sa

Published on August 30th, 2017 | by Ido Kenan


🙏 No Praying Hands Emoji, Rabbi Orders 🕍

Rabbi Shlomo Aviner told his flock to refrain from using the praying hands emoji, as the gesture originates in Christianity and Far Eastern paganism.

Aviner, an Israeli Orthodox rabbi, a prominent Religious Zionist spiritual leader and the Beit El settlement rabbi, posted his praying-hands emoji ban on the Israeli religious-oriented site Kipa, in an article (Hebrew) that lists customs and expressions Aviner says originate in Christianity, and therefore should be avoided. Jews are commanded in the Bible not to follow the laws and customs of non-Jews – “And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you” (Leviticus 20:23).

Praying folded hands emoji

“Some people, instead of replying amen, put their palms together, like praying hands or send via text message”, Aviner wrote in grammatically negligent Hebrew. “But its source is ancient pagan of the Far East and also Christianity. Not good. See Wikipedia List of Gestures – Two Handed.”

The Two Handed section of the List of Gestures Wikipedia entry lists two relevant gestures – Añjali Mudrā (namaste), “pressing the palms together”, defined as “a sign of respect in India and among yoga practitioners”; and praying hands, “a reverent clasping of the hands together”, defined as “an expression used in most major religions during prayer. The palms of the hands are held together with the fingers extended and touching or the fingers folded upon the opposite hand. This gesture is often made with the two hands held at chest or head level, the elbows against the side, and the head bowed towards the hands.”

(Aviner Image: Arielhorowitz cc-by-sa)

About the Author

Ido Kenan is founder of Room 404, a longtime Digital Culture journalist and a raiser of two cats

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