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Prayer beads are commonly found in various religions as a tool for meditation and prayer. Did Judaism ever have any religious use of prayer beads, perhaps among the Jewish Sages? Or would this be considered halachically forbidden as a form of idolatry?

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    Consider clarifying what role these beads have in meditation. – mevaqesh Jan 16 '18 at 3:03
  • Hi user16558, welcome to Mi Yodeya! Great question, perhaps it would be clearer if you provided an explanation of what prayer beads do in the context of prayer and/or meditation. – רבות מחשבות Jan 16 '18 at 3:13
  • Prayer beads may be used as a counting mechanism to keep track of a prescribed set of prayers, and to heighten concentration on the prayers at hand. They may serve to help the praying individual avoid distraction. – user16558 Jan 16 '18 at 3:27
  • I would think that even if it had originally been used it would have been dropped as chukas hagoyim and therefore forbidden. – sabbahillel Jan 16 '18 at 3:38
  • @user16558 The sages certainly did use esoteric practices for reaching higher states of consciousness. There is actually a series of books written by a now passed Rabbi by the name of Aryeh Kaplan. He conducted research into certain esoteric texts which delved into the practices. His books cover different concepts of Jewish meditation and how it was practiced. Some of them are meditations related to the Hebrew Alephbet and others are related to meditating on concepts related to Hashem's divinity. The books are a light read and you can get some functional exercises out of it. – Avri Jan 16 '18 at 3:45
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I don't know how else to answer this question but the answer is that beads have never played a part in Jewish worship. It's simply not the way that our prayers have been formatted. We don't need to "count" prayers like Catholics with rosary beads or the like.

  • See please the answer to my question judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/88024/… "... the custom of the early Hasidei Ashkenazi and also the teachings of the Ari z"l. That custom is to count the words of each blessing in the Amidah. This counting is associated with the mystical intentions associated with prayer." – Avrohom Yitzchok Jan 16 '18 at 9:25
  • @AvrohomYitzchok Counting of words was also a way (a not so efficient one) to ensure that the blessings of the Amidah are not changed. – Kazi bácsi Jan 16 '18 at 11:13
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    @AvrohomYitzchok that's not a 'count while you pray' system though. – user15253 Jan 16 '18 at 12:47
  • @AvrohomYitzchok And it wasn't done with beads... – ezra Jan 16 '18 at 14:43

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