Watch that Mezuzah

It is not an uncommon occurrence that the details of objects located in the spaces we most frequently venture, and likewise, of items we use most often, remain unnoticed by our eyes. Obviously, one could not properly appreciate the extent of this truth until it be purposely brought to his or her attention. Today, I can still recall the method in which my sixth grade teacher awakened me to this notion.

I was called to the front of the classroom, and asked to hand over my wrist watch. Once in my teacher’s hand, she asked me to describe the physical structure of it in explicit detail. Well, I knew the band was stretchy and purple, with little pink butterflies adorning the edges, but as I related the colors of the second and minute hands, I realized I had already run out of descriptions. The color of the numbers lining its face, the shape of the metal time-setting clasp, even the company’s design in its center I could not seem to recall. This was an item I had worn daily, referred to hourly, and one which was rarely parted from my wrist. Still, I could not visualize, from memory, the many details of its image.

A similar reaction of bewilderment, directed at my own ignorance, was expressed when a specific detail of most mezuzah cases had been brought to my attention. I had been reaching up to kiss the holy mezuzah scroll case at every turn of my childhood, appreciating the sight of it in every doorway throughout adulthood, yet somehow I had managed to experience these accumulated moments without being aware of the large Hebrew letter “shin” inscribed, printed, or crafted, on the upper surface of nearly every existing Mezuzah case.

The letter “Shin” on the mezuzah case represents the first Hebrew letter which spells the name of God, “Shaddai.” The name itself is an acronym for “Guardian of the Doors of Israel,” which is precisely the mezuzah’s purpose in resting above the doorframe upon entry to a Jewish space.

As was the case with my youthful wrist watch, I can at once acknowledge the expressive detail of the typical mezuzah case. Likewise, I can appreciate this unobserved detail as an assurance that one is protected in his or her goings and comings by both the case itself, and its inner mezuzah scroll.