A Mezuzah’s Great Powers

The mezuzah contains our pledge of allegiance to Hashem. It contains the most important foundations and fundamental principles of our belief. It speaks about our belief in only One G-d, our love for Him and His Torah and the importance of keeping the mitzvos. It contains Hashem’s promise to us that if we serve Him properly He will bring the rains in their proper times and He will reward us with His abundant blessings. Those who keep His mitzvos properly are assured of a long life as it says “L’maan yirbu y’meichem vi’ymei b’neichem…”

The Torah tells us that certain mitzvos such as respecting our father and mother rewards us with special benefits and blessings. The gemara, as well as the poskim tells us that in the merit of the mitzvah of mezuzah, Hashem Whose Holy Name appears in it ten times protects those living in the house. While we should do mitzvos only because Hashem commanded them, we certainly appreciate the blessing and special benefits they provide.

The Gemarah Minochos (33) says “It is a mitzvah to put it within the tefach which is close to the outside. Says Rebbi Chanina from Surah, “so that it protects us.” (The entire house – Rashi.) Rabbi Chanina says, “Come and see how G-d’s actions are different from that of man. With man, it is the master that sits inside while his servants protect him from the outside, while with G-d it is just the opposite. His servants sit inside while Hashem protects them from the outside.”

The Yerushalmi in Mesecta Pe’ah (perek 1) tells an interesting story Artvon (who was the king of Persia) sent Rebbi Yehudah Hanasi a very expensive stone with the request that he send him back something of equal value. Whereby, Rebbi wrote a mezuzah and sent it to him in return. When Artvon received the mezuzah he got very angry and said, “I sent you something of great value, and you sent me a cheap piece of parchment in return?” Rebbi responded, “You sent me something for which I will have to hire a watchman to protect it, whereas I sent you something that will offer you protection.”

The Rambam in Hilchos Mezuzah (perek 6) says that a person must be extremely careful with the mitzvah of mezuzah, and that every time one walks in or out he comes into contact with the concept of the oneness of G-d’s Holy Name. This should serve to remind us of our great love for Him and awaken us from our indulgence in mundane worldly pleasures.

The holy Zohar in Parshas Devorim (265) says,( and I translate freely;) “Come and see, that a person is required to inscribe the Holy Name upon the doorpost of his home. For this is the basic belief. Every place that the Holy Name is found – the bad spirits cannot be found, and they are unable to act upon a person. When a person puts a mezuzah on his door, and the Holy Name is inscribed within its letters, then the person is crowned with the Crown of his Master, and the bad spirits are unable to get close and therefore cannot be found there.”

The Taz in Shulchan Aruch (285) says that the mezuzah has the unique ability and property to protect us around the clock, even while we are asleep. While it is well known that it is extremely rare for Hashem to perform an open miracle since He always tries to disguise them in ordinary ways, the Bais Yosef says that the mitzvah of mezuzah contains the unique power and ability to even bring about open or visible miracles.

The Mechilta in Parshas Bo says “If the blood that was put on one’s doorpost in Egypt had the power to keep the mashchis out of the house, how much more so is the power of the mezuzah which has the name of Hashem mentioned in it ten times.” Perhaps this is why the Name Shin Daled Yud which is the Name representing Hashem’s great power and strength appears on it. This Name also stands for “Shomer Dalsos Yisroel” – He protects the doors of the Jews. In fact, the letters of the word mezuzos can be rearranged to make the word” zuz moves” which means it moves away death.

Certainly at a time like this when we all can use every bit of Hashem’s protection, it is extremely important to make sure that our mezuzos are in perfect shape.

One must always remember that even the best sofer is only human and therefore can make a mistake. This is why it is important that in addition to a sofer checking the mezuzah to make sure that the letters are shaped properly, one should also have it checked by the computer of the Vaad Mishmeres Stam for textual errors. It is very important to emphasize that a computer is not a replacement for a sofer. It is not used to check for letter shapes but rather to discover missing or extra letters or words, or incorrectly substituted letters or words. It has at present (April 2001) already checked sifrei Torah worldwide and has found of the without any mistakes. This means that any sefer Torah that was no checked by the computer has only a 28% chance of being kosher. It has also checked thousands of mezuzos and teffilin and found more than 10% of them possul plus another 10% that needed repair.

Another thing which we must be very careful with is the actual placement of the mezuzah. It must be on the right doorpost (as we enter) and also directly under the doorway’s lintel (mashkof) . This can run into a big problem with certain type of doors that are quite common in Israel where one sometimes finds that the doorpost is no wider then the door itself. When one affixes the mezuzah to the side of the door rather then directly under the lintel, it may be problematic since according to many poskim this would be considered posul or at most, only kosher b’dieved. In such cases it is necessary to hollow out the doorpost itself so that the mezuzah is placed directly under the lentil – the mashkof. Sometimes it may be difficult to determine which side to put the mezuzah on since one enters the room from more then one direction and a knowledgable rav should be consulted. Putting it on the wrong side is as if there is no mezuzah, so don’t decide on your own. It can sometimes be quite a tricky business to get it correct. Experience has shown that it is sometimes necessary for the posek to actually see the configuration of the doorway on his very own and not rely on descriptions given to him over the telephone. One must also be very careful not to insert the mezuzah upside down something that’s not uncommon. As shocking as it may sound, many sofrim have told me that on occasion they have even opened mezuzah cases and have found nothing inside. While these details may seem trivial, in truth it can make all the difference between having a kosher mezuzah on your door post or not.

Just as we go for a health checkup even though we feel fine, so too it’s worthwhile to have a mezuzah check even if we are sure that they are fine. You may be surprised at the results. Everyone has his own stories he can tell you, so why take chances?

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