Among Jewish symbols, the Tree of Life —Etz Hayim— stands tall. Its roots stretch back to the Garden of Eden. Here’s the Torah passage where we first encounter it:
And from the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that was pleasing to the sight and good for food, with the tree of life in the middle of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and bad. (Genesis 2:9)
The Tree of Life motif appears in a number religious traditions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity, often associated with creation.
In Judaism, the Genesis passage gives us our association of the Tree of Life with eternal life in the World to Come. But today, when we see the Tree of Life in Jewish design, it often symbolizes the Torah, an association that derives from this widely quoted verse from Proverbs:
“She is a tree of life to those who grasp her,
And whoever holds on to her is happy.” (Proverbs 3:18)
Seems fitting that a symbol that stands at the center of Jewish life and Jewish design is something that lives and grows.
Maria Bywater is the author of Sew Jewish, available in paperback at Amazon.com and Etsy and available for instant download in PDF format on Etsy.