This is a series of reflections following my trip to the Holy Lands this fall. What a profound and life-changing experience to walk where Jesus lived. Visiting Israel opened my eyes and refreshed my heart on so many levels – historically, politically, biblically and spiritually.
The hotels we stayed in in Israel exposed me to some new practices. One had a Shabbat elevator – from sundown on Friday until the sun sets on Saturday, many observant Jews refrain from certain activities, including pushing elevator buttons. So in some buildings, elevators are programmed to stop automatically on every floor during the Sabbath. That way, observant Jews can hop right in and eventually, get where they are going.
But the practice I saw the most and really liked was the mezuzahs affixed to every room’s doorway in each hotel.
The mezuzah is mounted on doorways in Israel. I had heard of this practice, but never before had seen them on every entrance in the hotels. To be honest at first I thought each room had a titled doorbell before I realized what the case held.
A mezuzah is a piece of paper with the words from Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 and 11: 13-21. This passage is also known as the Shema. The words are affixed to the doorframes to fulfill this promise in these verses in decorative cases.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.
Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you.
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.
Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth.
What a beautiful verse to memorize and practice. I admire the Jewish people for this practice. These words remind us that God is always present in our lives and that we should keep God’s words constantly in our minds and in our hearts.
As people pass through the doors, entering and exiting, they are reminded of their deep connection with God. What a wonderful witness and a key to remembering these words. I also think seeing the mezuzahs must also give a sense of linking to past and future generations – a powerful sign of a rich heritage as children of God.
Whether we attached the mezuzah and its case to our doorposts or not, I pray that every home be a place that honors God and lives by his words and his love.
What do you think of this practice?