The first two letters we saw this month – ר “r” and ד “d” – look similar but sound different.
This week, we are seeing two letters that look different from each other but sound the same. That’s because they’re really the same letter. In Hebrew a few letters have both a regular form and a final form. That means the letter looks one way if it’s at the beginning or middle of the word and another way if it’s at the end of the word.
This week’s letter make the “m” sound: מ in its regular form and ם in its form at the end of a word.
Our Jewish life vocabulary this week is “mezzuzah”. The “v’ahavta” prayer is part of every service, right after the “Shema”. שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל: יְיָ אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְיָ אֶחָד. (Shema Yisraeil: Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad!)
A passage from Dueteronmy tells us to “inscribe [these words] on the doorposts of your house and on your gates”. Our ancestors decided this instruction meant to post the “Shema” prayer by the doors of our homes.
The “Shema” is written on parchment. To protect the parchment from the weather, we put it within a special case. The decoration of the case can vary from simple to ornate.
Some people put a mezzuzah by their front door. Others also put one in the doorway of each room within their home (except bathrooms).
שבוע טוב Shavuah tov! Have a great week.
Gayle A. Kaplan