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22. A Mezuzah for a Treehouse

Nathan stuck his head over the side of the treehouse. “If you talked Milcah into living in a tree instead of that house on the ridge, you wouldn’t have to chip blocks at the quarry.”

Right, Nate. She’d go for that. Especially if it had a hummingbird.”

Up in the tree house, Zim tugged on Nathan’s sleeve. “You gotta keep on the lookout for that hummingbird, Mr. Nathan. It’ll show up when you least expect it. But I bet if you say the blessing for our tree house like you did for our pita breads there’d be lots of hummingbirds, huh? Wouldn’t there! Lots and lots of ‘em.”

Blessing for a tree house?”

Elijah looked up. “Tell him about our mezuzah, Nate.”

Zim poked Nathan. “What’s a menuzah?”

Me-zu-zah. It’s a scripture scroll. You tuck it inside a tiny box and tack it up on the doorpost. Your professor must have one on his door.”

That little box he touches?”

That’s it. When we built our tree house, we put one in the doorway. My brother carved it out of Absalom oak. Sheerah wrote it out, and Elijah tacked it up. I held the ladder.”

Okay, Mr. Nathan.” He slapped the inside of the entry post. “We’ll put it right here.”

You better ask your mother. She might not want a mezuzah.”

Don’t know why not.” Zim slithered down the ladder. “It’s a mezunah, Mommy. A box with writing.”

Nathan was still climbing down the ladder, so Elijah walked over and stood behind Zim. “Most of us put them inside our doorways, Ma’am, but we’re Hebrews.”

Please, Mommy. It’s a real good thing, and Daddy would love it.”

She unfolded her arms and pulled him to her. “Zim loves his tree house, don’t you, dear.” Her eyes watered. She snapped her head up and pasted a smile on her mouth. “The highest in the world. And always with a hummingbird about to visit.”

Zim twisted and grinned up at her. “It’s kinda like the blessing for bread, Mommy. Brings lots of hummingbirds.”

Now slow down, little man. I want Mr. Elijah to tell me about this—this box. What’s it for?”

Nathan hit the ground and jumped over in front of Elijah with his face a few inches from Zim’s mother. Her head and shoulders tipped back as Nathan directed his full smile down into her widening eyes. “Yes, Ma’am. A mezuzah box is about as long as Zim’s hand and as wide as his two fingers.”

Elijah touched Nathan’s arm. “Eyes. Distance.”

Nathan shot him a frown, but then his face cleared. He backed away from the widow and looked at his hands. He gave Elijah one more quick glance, another to the widow, and then concentrated on his hands. “Mezuzah boxes are made of olive wood, stone, glass, copper – even silver or gold, Ma’am. In Tishbe, we carve them out of oak. The same oak that grows here.”

Zim hung on Nathan’s arm. “And the blessing for a tree house goes inside, right, Mr. Nathan?”

Oh, way better, Zim. The parchment reads, ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. And you shall love …’”

Elijah stepped up. “It gets pretty long, Ma’am. It tells us to put the Lord’s commands on our heart, teach them, talk about them, put them on our hands, between our eyes, and on our doorposts.”

Zim jumped up and down. “So can we have one, Mommy? Can we make one? Please?”

Elijah cleared his throat. “Ma’am. Nathan doesn’t do too well with a pen, and my writing is so bad that Nathan is the only one who can read it.”

Her silence lasted only a moment. “Professor Hashabiah. Zim’s lesson is tomorrow morning. You boys go with him, and if the professor will write it, you boys can carve it.”

How far is it to the professor’s house?”

Zim beamed. “Oh, he lives way over the other end of town, Mr. Lijah. But I won’t let you get lost.”

Elijah frowned. “My brother and I have to keep out of sight.”

This story in the Bible – 1 Kings 17:17

“…the son of the woman who owned the house…” 

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