This week Gizmodo included the Say-a-blessing key chain among its featured products. The device has eight buttons with icons representing prayers one might need to say when eating. This includes the blessing for n’tilat yadayim, the ritual washing of hands, and the grace after meals as well as a variety of food groups: bread, other baked goods, wine, fruit, vegetables, and all other foods. And if that wasn’t enough, it includes two bonuses: the Shema and Modeh Ani, the prayer said upon waking each morning.
Now I’m all for harnessing the powers of technology to make Judaism more accessible. However, I don’t believe that this key chain actually increases knowledge of commonly used blessings.
Before speed dial, people knew phone numbers by heart. Now, when someone looses their cell phone or leaves it at home, he or she is often rendered useless when it comes to contacting people.
Increased automation appears in much of modern Jewish observance. Timers for lights prevent one from breaking Shabbat. Kosher for Passover cruises mean that one doesn’t have to be conscious of keeping the holiday.
Where does one draw the line?
Pronounced: shuh-MAH or SHMAH, Alternate Spellings: Sh’ma, Shma, Origin: Hebrew, the central prayer of Judaism, proclaiming God is one.