The Sh’ma And Prescription Bottles

Morning Prayer today began with a reading from Deuteronomy 6 that included these words: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord…And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”  These are the words of the sh’ma that are written on a small scroll enclosed in a mezuzah to be attached to the doorframe of a home. What a wonderful way to be reminded in our coming and in our going that we are to love God with all our being, that it should be a part of our conversation whether at home or away, and that our particular household is intentionally cognizant of that. Observant Jews always do that.  Maybe we Christians should take up the practice as well. 

During my years at St. Paul’s I had one class of Cub Scouts whose parents wanted their boys to get the Cub Scout version of the God and Country badge.  I worked with one of the parents who organized craft projects for the boys that were connected to each of the lessons.  One of those projects was to make homemade mezuzahs out of empty prescription bottles and fill them with hand written strips of paper that included the sh’ma according to each boy’s own interpretation of it.  Most took theirs home, but one boy’s parents objected for whatever reason.  I taped his prescription bottle mezuzah to the doorframe of my office, and there it stayed for the duration.

It was a constant, and often much needed, reminder of who I am and where I was, and what that was supposed to mean for the way I behaved.  The allegorical meaning of that little scrap of paper in a prescription bottle was not lost.  Now and then I was tempted to add a label:  No. of refills: unlimited.  I miss that little bottle.  Maybe I should add a mezuzah to the doorframe of our house.  Maybe you should too.

4 thoughts on “The Sh’ma And Prescription Bottles”

  1. Steve, The opening word of the Hear, O Israel is usually spelled \”shema\” or just \”sh\’ma\” with the accent on the second syllable, since the first vowel, called the shwa, is a very weak uh sound, too weak to take a stress, and often is just elided out. The whole phrase is \”Sh\’ma Yisrael, Adonai elohenu, Adonai echod\”. Here the Adonai (lit. my Lord) is the customary euphemism for the actual Name, YHWH (Yahweh), sometimes in other contexts, just called ha Shem (\”the Name\”). In New York you might have heard Yisroel (Ashkenazi) instead of Yisrael (Sephardi, as used in Modern Hebrew in Israel). Dr B

  2. As a Completed Jew, I say: beautifully said! Seriously. To the Jews who do not know – a completed Jew is simply one Jew who has had the Epiphany that Christ is the Lord, becomes baptized and sins and all, tries to improve his or her life according to the Son\’s guide.Your analysis is ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.† Ian Andrew Schneider

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