In this week's Parsha,
we read about the mitzva of teaching our children Torah;
the mitzva of Tefillin; and the mitzva of Mezuza.
"And these words
[the Torah], which I command you this day, shall be in your
heart. And you shall teach them diligently to your children... And
you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand and... between your
eyes. And you shall write them upon the posts of your house and
your gates." (Va'etchanan 6:4-9)
On the doorposts of
every Jewish home, you will find a little rectangular case. Inside
that case is a Mezuza. It's there because the Torah
commands us to affix a Mezuza on each doorpost in our homes.
What is a Mezuza?
In brief, the Mezuza
consists of two passages of the Torah written (in Hebrew,
of course) on one klaf (piece of parchment). The two passages
are, "Shema Yisroel" and "Vehaya" (Devarim,
[Deuteronomy] 6:4-9 and 11:13-21).
The parchment is then
rolled into a scroll, wrapped in paper or plastic, usually inserted
into a hard-plastic or metal case, and affixed on a slant to the
upper part of the right hand door-post in a Jewish home. A Mezuza
must be placed on each door-post of the house (except the bathrooms).
The writing of the
Mezuza must be done by a Sofer (Scribe) in
the same manner and script as a Torah.
It is important to remember that the Mezuza is not
the casing, but the written parchment. It is ironic that some people
will buy an expensive case, but overlook the fact that the actual
Mezuza is not kosher.
The essence of the
mitzva of Mezuza is the concept of the Oneness of
G-d. The very first verse written on the Mezuza is the Shema:
"Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokaynu
Hashem Echad - (Hear Yisroel, - Hashem is our G-d,
- Hashem is the One and Only)"
It is customary, upon
entering or leaving a residence, to touch the Mezuza. This
reverence acknowledges our belief in the "Shema Yisroel"
the Jewish declaration of faith, which expresses the unity of G-d,
the duty of loving and serving Him with our whole being, and our
obligation to observe the Mitzvot in and out of the home.
Q. What is the meaning
of the word Mezuza?
means "door post" for the Mezuza is placed on the doorpost.
In olden days, an awl or other tool was used to gouge out a trough
in the doorpost of the entryway to one's house. The scroll was inserted
into the gouged-out space and plastered over. Today, it is customary
to encase the Mezuza scroll in a decorative case.
In addition, the Hebrew
word "Mezuzot," found in this Parsha, is written: mem,
zayen, zayen, vav, tav. If we rearrange the letters we can spell
the two words, "zaz mavet" which means "pushing away death."
Thus, a kosher Mezuza
acts as protection even to the extent of saving from death! In Tehillim
(Psalms) Dovid Hamelech (King David) says, "Hashem
shall protect your exit and your entry from now and forever." Our
Sages say that this applies to the Mezuza. It acts as a shield
and protects people, not only when they are inside the home but
also when they go out.
In time, the letters
on a Mezuza may fade or crack, which renders the Mezuza
not kosher. Thus, it must be checked at least twice in seven years.
Q. Why is the letter
"Shin" written on the outside of the Mezuza cover?
A. "Shin" stands
for the word "Shad-eye" which is one of Hashem's names.
The word "Shad-eye" is spelled; shin, daled, yud.
These three letter serves as an acronym for the words, "Shomer
Daltei Yisrael" - "Hashem watches over the doors of Israel."
For more info about Mezuza, click here.
The Talmud says that
a proper Mezuza offers protection of the home and tells the
following wonderful story:
A special friendship
existed between King Antoninus and Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi (known
as Rebbi). Once King Antoninus sent Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi
a precious stone as a gift. In return Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi
sent him a Mezuza.
Antoninus was puzzled:
"I sent you such an expensive gift and you send me a piece of parchment?"
To which Rabbi Yehudah
Hanasi replied, "Your gift I will always have to guard to
make sure that no one will steal it. But my gift to you, the Mezuza,
will watch over you and protect you at all times!"
Keeping the Commandments
of the Torah always brings blessings, and the Talmud
says that keeping the Commandment of Mezuza brings long life
and is a protection for the home.
The following true
story speaks fo itself.
(Mezuza) Case in Point
by Moshe Schapiro
Reprinted with Permission
Dr. Yaakov Orlean
runs the blood bank in Bnei Brak's Maayanei Hayeshua Hospital. He
is originally from the United States, and until not too long ago,
he lived and worked in California.
One day he paid a
visit to a well-known sofer stam (scribe) in Bnei Brak and
ordered three exquisite Mezuza parchments. In fact, the source
of this story is the Sofer Stam, who told it to Rabbi Yitzchak
Dr. Orlean mentioned
that he had some business to take care of in the United States and
that he would be giving the Mezuzot as gifts to three former
colleagues from California.
A few days later Dr.
Orlean came to pick up the three Mezuzot. He carefully inserted
each into a tastefully designed Mezuza cover and packed all
three in his suitcase.
The first thing he
did upon his arrival was drive over to his former colleagues homes
and catch up on old times. They all lived on the same street, so
it was very convenient for him to visit each of them. All three
were thrilled to see him again, but their reactions upon receiving
his gift were totally different.
The first doctor,
Jack, was horrified when he finished unwrapping the gift paper and
realized what it was he was holding in his hands.
"Why, thank you
very much," Jack said, recovering somewhat from the initial
shock. "A Mezuza! How unique. Yes, well, I will keep
it right here in my desk drawer. Who knows? It may come in handy
as a paperweight."
Dr. Orlean was not
He asked in astonishment. "Jack, for crying out loud, this
is a Mezuza! You're supposed to attach it to a doorpost.
You know as in, front door?"
" On my front
door?" Jack asked with equal astonishment. "You've got
to be kidding. Everyone will know I'm Jewish! No, no, that's out
of the question. But thank you so much anyway. It's such a nice
Dr. Orlean said goodbye
and then strolled halfway down the block to colleague number two
His reaction to the
special gift from Israel was less severe.
"Oh, how nice,
a Mezuza," Steven said after unwrapping the gift. "Just
what I always wanted!" And he proceeded to slip it into his
Dr. Orlean, said in his tactful way, "the purpose of a Mezuza
is to hang it on a doorframe. Actually, come to think of it, the
bronze casing goes very well with the color scheme of your front
Steven didn't look
thrilled. He agreed to post the Mezuza on a room in his house,
but said he couldn't quite imagine posting it on the front door.
Dr. Orlean, after
failing twice, made a third attempt and visited his friend a few
houses down the street.
The third doctor,
Michael, unwrapped his gift and was very excited to find the Mezuza
and its beautiful case. He kissed the Mezuza, caressed the
case and reveled in the fact that his gift came from the Jewish
Then, without being
told to post it, Michael stood up, asked for the Bracha (blessing)
and affixed the Mezuza on his front door.
Dr. Orlean was very
proud, and considering his previous experiences, more than a little
surprised at the doctor's reaction. But not wanting to undo the
good deed that had been done, he decided not to press the issue.
Upon his return home
to Eretz Yisroel, Dr. Orlean heard about a terrible earthquake
that had hit California just days after he left. Numerous homes
had sustained damage, and some had been demolished.
Dr. Orlean couldn't
help but wonder what had happened to his three friends. When he
found out their fate, he was astonished by the news.
Massive winds had
ravaged Jack's house, leaving it completely destroyed. Nothing remained
standing except the foundation.
Steven's house suffered
immense damage, save for one room - the one where the Mezuza
And Michael's house,
situated along the same street as Dr. Orlean's other two colleague's
homes, stood fully intact.
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