January 6th, 2013
In ancient times it was a Jewish custom recorded in the Mishnah, Talmud, and Midrash to carry a mezuzah in a walking stick for protection. It was used for personal spiritual fortification, and not solely to fulfill the halacha of being affixed to the doorways of buildings where Jews reside.
It is easily understood that a non-kosher mezuzah does not possess any protective qualities. Therefore, when, G-d forbid, someone is sick or there is some other misfortune, the very first move by an observant Jew (after calling 911) is to check the mezuzahs in the house. If some of the mezuzahs turn out to be posul, they get fixed or replaced. This has always been the Jewish custom.
The first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, had a mezuzah near him at all times in fulfillment of the verse, “I have set G-d before me always.” (Psalms XVI, 8) Rebbetzin Chaya Moushka, the wife of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, used to keep a mezuzah in the glove compartment of her car. The Rebbe himself kept a mezuzah on the desk during private audiences. There are many more instances of present- day personal mezuzah usage.
So, if you walk, sit, or drive, (not dive), or just generally hang out somewhere far off the beaten path, it may be time to consider having your own personal mezuzah to keep, just in case………..or in a case. I’m just sayin………………………
January 6th, 2013
no mezuzah here
Boy oh boy, buyer beware! Don’t be a target for an embarrassing scam which will allow you the opportunity to part with your money while you are on a picturesque, once in a lifetime, spiritually uplifting vacation in Fez, Morocco. Yes, you may be carried away by nostalgia, and where better to buy an ancient, authentically oriental Berber mezuzah than in a traditional bazaar.
The unequivocal answer: Not in the art gallery that claims that they have some magnificent samples left from the nomadic Berber Jewish tribe. Since these wandering Jews had no doorposts, they wore their mezuzahs around their necks and around the necks of their camels.
If you are skeptical, you can rest assured that, indeed, your instincts are good. There was never evidence at any time of any personal or camel mezuzahs. But in case you happen to believe their claims, I’ve got a bridge to sell…………………………
January 1st, 2013
wireless security system
When was the first recorded instance of the custom of someone placing a hand on the mezuzah and then kissing it? It is found in the Talmudic account about the famous Roman convert to Judaism, Onkelos. He was doing this as he was being led out of his home by the third set of Caesar’s troops who were sent to capture him, and they asked him what he was doing.
He explained that, “It is the custom of the world that the king sits in the inside of the palace and the guards protect him from the outside. However, with G-d, His servants are inside their homes and He protects them from the outside.”
As with the first two troops, they were inspired by his knowledge and faith, and they converted. Caesar did not send any additional soldiers upon learning of this. You could say that the mezuzah is the first wireless Jewish security system!
December 29th, 2012
While this is not a book club blog, I just had to let you readers know that there is a book out there by the above title disclosing riveting stories of very, very “secret Jews.” In many cases, they were known to each other only by false, misleading, or confusing names, such as the ‘titular talisman’ or by specific clues, like including a Jewish object like a mezuzah in a painting of a Madonna.
The descendants of these secret Jews, the Marranos, are still with us today. These are harrowing firsthand stories of survivors and their rescuers which vividly reveal the secret history of the Jews who found asylum from Hitler’s Final Solution under Franco’s Fascist Regime.
There are times when there is more to something than meets the eye, but there was a time in history when a mezuzah was not meant to be seen by one.
December 27th, 2012
And I Quote
Yes, folks. That’s what Maran HaGaon HaRav Ovadia Yosef Shlita has been talking about of late. Political parties in Israel are now preparing to air their TV ads for the upcoming elections scheduled to take place in the Knesset.
He has been quoted as saying that, “When a man buys a home, he does not move in prior to placing a proper mezuzah. This is kedushas habayis. We have a government. They build a government. What is necessary then, a mezuzah, and Shas is that mezuzah!”
It might be a reach to compare the strength and power of a political party to the protection of the G-d of the Jews. What happens if you don’t vote? Or worse, what if you vote for an opposing party?
December 26th, 2012
The Libeskind Mezuzah
Daniel Libeskind, a world famous architect, artist, and set designer, is a Polish born accordion prodigy of two Holocaust survivors. He has used his rather formidable talents to design a cover for the mezuzah gracing the entrance of the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, California. It is a very, very, modern looking piece.
The design for this pewter mezuzah is modeled on the two standard architectural forms which intersect the historic building, based on the Hebrew letters “chet” and “yud.” So this is a very cool piece. You just need to find out which way to hang it. Would you touch it?
December 24th, 2012
We are all aware that the information highway in the internet age is a place where all types of knowledge is just a click away. The “Yahaduton Channel, Your Personal Guide to Judaism,” has previewed a series of video clips which explain how to keep mitzvahs on a daily basis. Rabbi Shmuel Bistritzky is the writer and director. You can view tutorials on many diverse topics, most recently produced in Russian, French, and German.
Specifically, for all of you ‘mezuzahphiles,’ the “Yahaduton” channel shows a clip on how to affix a mezuzah. There are step- by-step easy to follow directions. You can’t really make a mistake when you get to see the job up close and personal. Plus, you can replay it whenever you want. This site is definitely, as the expression goes, a “sight for sore eyes!”
December 19th, 2012
putting it on
“Nes Gadol Hayah Poh”a great miracle happened here! This timely phrase was recited by President Daniel Lehmann at a Chanukah celebration on December 11th to rededicate the building which houses the Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts.
150 members of the Hebrew College financial committee found themselves in serious debt, to the extent that that the school was put up for sale last year. Restructuring efforts paid off with the help of some substantial monetary gifts from generous contributors.
Beaming with joy while affixing mezuzahs on the doorposts of five rooms in the Conference Center in gratitude and thanksgiving, these folks feel that the rededication of their building echoes the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem so many years ago. May the miracles of the past come to life again for us too, one and all!
December 16th, 2012
a special gift
There exists a mezuzah in the world, the largest, most expensive (equal in price to a Sefer Torah), which is the one and only calligraphic entry in the 2011 Guinness Book of World Records. The scribe is Avraham Borshevsky, an artist and calligrapher from Jerusalem, Israel.
He began his career as a secular, formidably talented student at the Leningrad Civil Engineering Institute where he became enamored with Hebrew language and letters. He went on to create many sacred works, choosing the mezuzah as the symbol for traditional Judaism based in the home.
Interestingly, religious people of other faiths recognize and appreciate the beauty of his works. For those who ‘have everything’ an authentic piece a treasure. He says that, “The work is even more than art. It brings light and the word of G-d into our lives.” Well, let it bring the light and the word of G-d into everyone’s life. May he go from strength to strength!
December 12th, 2012
quill and ink
Most people are aware that the halacha requires that each letter in a mezuzah be written perfectly. Also, it must not be written by erasing. For example, if in error the Sofer wrote a beis instead of a kof, he might be tempted to save time by erasing the foot of the beis so that the kof would remain. This however, is writing by erasing and the mezuzah would not be considered kosher.
This law also applies if a drop of ink splashes onto a letter. Even if the ink can easily be cleaned away leaving a letter intact, the law of writing by erasing may have been violated.
So what this all means is that even if a mezuzah looks fine, it might actually be posul. That is why mezuzahs need to be purchased from a certified scribe who has been tested and is aware of the many laws, and most importantly, has a fear of G-d. Who knew that what you can’t see on a parchment is as equally important as what you can. Who knew?