As you might expect, our home is filled with religious artifacts accumulated over the years, most gifts from thoughtful friends. Like many Christian clergy, I have my share of Communion chalices and bread plates, crosses and icons, most of which live in my home office.
I work on a small desk adorned with a colorful Latin American altar cloth on which a Sacred Heart of Jesus sacramental lies beside my laptop and the Hindu god Ganesha, the Remover of Obstacles, sits nearby to solve computer issues.
Two clay Muslim men in kaftans embrace on top of my bookshelves, and Arabic phrases from the Quran beautifully illustrate two round metal plates hanging in another room. A ceramic tile from Israel welcomes visitors before entering our kitchen with the word Shalom in Hebrew.
Upstairs a Christ Pantocrator placidly blesses an African goddess dancing above a Balinese mask and a Pharaoh judgment scene on papyrus. All are facing a handwoven Tree of Life across the room above our bed.
Well, you get the picture.
But never have I ever thought of having a mezuzah, despite my deep respect for the tradition.
Wade saw it at a booth during the Dogwood Festival here in Atlanta, a booth featuring the delicate art of Israeli artists from Brooklyn. Stavit Allweis and Nachshon Pelig are graduates of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem.
Wade appreciates its spiritual meaning, but more so its aesthetic appeal. It didn’t even cross his mind that, because we’re not Jewish, it might not be “kosher”! So, he purchased it, after carrying on a meaningful conversation with the handsome vendor, one of the artists.
When we came home from the festival we showed it to Jenelle Holmes, our pastor two doors down, and she asked us if we could do a “show and tell” about it as our moment of mindfulness the following day at Ormewood Church. We went online to prepare.
Mezuzah is Hebrew for “doorpost.” It contains Hebrew verses from the Torah, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21, the first of which begins, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” The passage ends urging that we write these words on the doorpost of our house.
A mezuzah is traditionally hung on the right side of the door and—I especially love this as good Jewish compromise—tilted because early practitioners differed as to whether to hang it vertically or horizontally.
But Wade wanted it mounted vertically on the more prominent left side of the door, and so, apologies to Yahweh for being loosey-goosey progressive Christians, that’s where it is. We followed the tradition of reciting this blessing in Hebrew as we held it against the spot it was to be placed: “Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with Your mitzvot (Law) and commanded us to affix a mezuzah.”
I always knew that summer-long intensive in Hebrew would come in handy.
You might think this an imperialistic appropriation of a spiritual practice of another culture and religion, but if you saw Wade’s innocent delight and wonder you may excuse us.
And I enjoy the practice of touching the mezuzah as I enter our home, remembering that the Lord our God is one, and that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, and might.
This post has a follow-up: It’s a Wonderful Life
Your donations are this blog’s only means of support. Please follow this link to make your gift:
Be sure to scroll down to the donate link below its description. Thank you!
Copyright © 2018 by Chris R. Glaser. Permission granted for non-profit use with attribution of author and blogsite. Other rights reserved.