FIX­ING A MEZUZAH

The Jewish Chronicle - - Judaism - Cus­tom and prac­tice with Rabbi Ju­lian Sin­clair

THERE is a wide­spread no­tion that a mezuzah — which it is a mitz­vah to fix to the right door­post of ev­ery room in your house ex­cept the bath­room — is a sort of Jewish good luck charm, a source of pro­tec­tion for the home. The pas­sage from the sec­ond para­graph of the Shema that speaks of mezuzah im­plies as much, say­ing “in or­der that your days shall be long, and the days of your chil­dren”. The let­ters shin, dalet, yud, spell­ing Shad­dai, one of God’s names, ap­pears on the out­side of most mezu­zot. Kab­bal­is­tic sources point out that these let­ters also stand for Shome­rdale­toty israel, “who guards the doors of Israel”.

Mai­monides, how­ever, strongly ob­jected to the prac­tice of those in his time who would add ad­di­tional names of God and an­gels to the mezuzah text for ex­tra pro­tec­tion. He wrote of them; “These fools not only nul­lify the mitz­vah, but fur­ther­more, they make from a great mitz­vah ([that re­flects] the unity of the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, the love of Him, and the ser­vice of Him, a tal­is­man for their own ben­e­fit”. For Mai­monides, the mezuzah was a con­stant re­minder to awaken from our ha­bit­ual sleep­walk­ing through life and re­mem­ber what re­ally mat­ters when­ever we en­ter a home.

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