Jews are a superstitious people. Perhaps it's our relationship with a Creator who can be as peevish as He is beneficent -- our superstitions are like little games we play to keep ourselves in line and Him happy. Psychologists say superstitions are a way for people to gain control over their environment, providing a sense of security in anxious situations. Ahh, so that's why we name children after a long-lived deceased relative ... spit three times in response to hearing news that is exceptionally good or bad (what? You couldn't choose one or the other?) ... or wear a metal pin on our collar if we are embarking on a trip. (The TSA is not fond of this one.)
Any time they gave me a gift or piece of clothing my parents would say, almost reflexively, Use it in good health or Wear it in good health. I have to admit, I still utter that to my children (or at least I think it, but I imagine they'll attest that I've said it plenty of times.). My favorite superstition comes from my dad, and because it seemed so crazy, I just figured he had made it up. Instead, it turns out to be fairly deep-rooted in traditional Jewish culture: when a person sneezes during a conversation, whatever has just been said will occur, based on the concept of "sneezing on the truth." According to the site, www.myjewishlearning.com, "While not as foolproof as direct prophecy, it is said to indicate that events that are rational and plausible will actually come to pass or that an event that has already occurred really happened just as the story related."
I'm glad to know that direct prophecy is considered more reliable.
What isn't reliably known is what the prophets and great Rabbis really thought about superstition. The Sefer Hasidim (alternately called The Book of Saints or The Book of the Pious, it is a German-Jewish treatise thought to have been written in the 13th century by Judah the Saint -- or Judah the Pious -- of Regensburg), sort of sums things up thusly: "One should not believe in superstitions, but it is best to be heedful of them."
In other words, It couldn't hurt.
The Hamsa -- a symbolic representation of the palm of the right hand -- is used in Judaism, Islam and Hinduism to provide superstitious protection against the evil eye while proffering power, blessings and strength.
I have sold several Hamsa wallhangings at my etsy shop (we pause for this brief moment of commercialism: www.etsy.com/shop/QuiltingMissDaisy), and that's how my former neighbor got the idea of a Hamsa quilt for her friend who is ill.
My Hamsa wallhangings have represented the beauty of the earth, the goddess/Mother Earth and the creation of the earth. Yes, I can be a bit of a hippie some days. It's fun to experiment and allow my creativity to express itself this way.
Here is the Hamsa quilt. The recipient's favorite color is pink, so that was central. But because the color red in ancient days symbolized the assurance of health, I had to make sure there was plenty of that as well. Hamsas should have an eye in them to stare down the evil one -- I am not so literal, so I used a leaf to represent the eye.
I hope it will be used in good health.