Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Sign of the Cross

"In all undertakings -- when we enter a place or leave it; before we dress; before we bathe; when we take our meals; when we light the lamps in the evening; before we retire at night; when we sit down to read; before each task -- we trace the sign of the cross on our foreheads."

I've always been envious of how the Christians cross themselves. There is just something so poignant about this gesture. When I was a kid, I used to try to Mogen David myself in analogous situations.


Blogger -suitepotato- said...

It's a simple mnemonic device which doesn't actually do what it is supposed to do, or at least what people both Christian and not Christian think it is supposed to do.

It is allegedly to reinforce the trinitarian concept with the whispered "in the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit" but even Catholics don't actually teach anything about it. They just say it. I went to Catholic study school in the evenings as a child (the Catholic equivalent of Hebrew School for Reform and Conservative kids as my wife put it) and they just sort of taught you to do it, but no real dogma with it.

Oddly, the same was true of the Hail Mary, Our Father, and all the other prayers. It's been joked of that when you went to confession, there was some sort of weird exchange sheet. Six HMs and five OFs for slapping your sister. No one had any idea what anyone meant by "full of grace" or even what "grace" was supposed to mean.

It was all less meaningful than those mnemonics they taught in music class to get notes across. Every good boy deserves fudge or some such.

But it is true that humans like simple things that aren't just passive like a kippah but something you can actively do any time of the day at will. B"H often seems to be that sort of thing to me. I've heard people say it under their breath when they saw something they were looking for. At my local mall yet. (In a town overwhelmingly black and Hispanic whose Conservative synagogue is often mistaken for closed due to lack of visible activty, I've seen tzitzit swinging on people)

Oh well. I still fight the urge to reflexively do it without thinking and strangely enough, I actually stare somewhat at my front doorpost as I go through wondering where the mezuzah went and it takes me a while to realize we lost it during a move years ago. I tap the door frame where it should be and sigh.

January 22, 2009 8:03 AM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

Im yirtze Hakem, baruch Hakem, b'ezras Hakem....

January 22, 2009 2:10 PM  
Blogger Leora said...

If you want a Jewish gesture, you can just pound your fist on your chest and ask for mechilah. Or scoop your thumb as you explain something.

January 23, 2009 8:55 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

I guess I should have explained it better.

When I see a religious Christian cross themselves, to me that is a sign of saying that you've done everything on your part and now you're placing your trust in God. it seems like a very powerful and symbolic gesture.

I don't think we Jews have an equivalent.

January 23, 2009 9:02 AM  

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