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The hamsa's path into Jewish culture, and its popularity particularly among the Sephardic Jewish community, can be traced through its use in Phoenecia. Jews sometimes call it the hand of Miriam, referencing the sister of the biblical Moses and Aaron. Five (hamesh in Hebrew) represents the five books of the Torah for Jews. It also symbolizes the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, "Heh", which represents one of God's holy names. Many Jews believe that the five fingers of the hamsa hand remind its wearer to use their five senses to praise God. It predates the Arabic usage of the hamsa by a thousand years.
Arabic name for the hamsa (or khamsa) is the hand of Fatima, commemorating Fatima Zahra, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad. Hamsa hands often contain an eye symbol. Depictions of the hand, the eye, or the number five in Arabic tradition is related to warding off the evil eye, as exemplified in the saying khamsa fi ainek ("five [fingers] in your eye"). Another formula uttered against the evil eye in Arabic is khamsa wa-khamis. Due to its singificance in both Arabic and Berber culture, it is one of the national symbols of Algeria, and appears in its emblem.