May 18, 2024
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May 18, 2024
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The mitzvah of the mezuzah is a fascinating concept. The Jewish People are told that they should affix certain passages to their door-posts and this applies to the doors of their homes, offices and other places of occupancy. So while Jews are not required to hang up their coats or hats (take that mom!), they must hang up their mezuzahs.

The mezuzah mitzvah should be fulfilled with a certain amount of common sense. Even though many places require a mezuzah, this does not mean that you should literally hang a mezuzah on every imaginable archway, doorpost or gate, no matter how bizarre or inappropriate. For example, when it comes to arches, you should not hang up a mezuzah on (i) the arches of your feet, (ii) your arch rival or (iii) the Arch De Triumph. When it comes to doors, you should not hang up a mezuzah on (i) a trapdoor, (ii) the rock-n-roll group “The Doors,” (iii) Dorchester, Massachusetts, (iv) someone you adore or (v) Theodore Herzl. When it comes to gates, you should not hang up a mezuzah on (i) the Golden Gate Bridge, (ii) the St. Louis Gateway to the World, (iii) the Watergate scandal, (iv) Bill Gates or (v) someone’s gait.

The mezuzah mitzvah also leads to many interesting and important questions. For example, when it comes to a revolving door, are multiple mezuzahs required? No, just like a person of two minds does not have to wear multiple kippot. Is the tradition of kissing a mezuzah required for germophobes? No, just like germophobes are not required to blow someone else’s shofar.

Is the person who checks mezuzahs known as a mezuzahologist? No, a person who checks mezuzahs is a mezuzah-checker and a person who hangs mezuzahs is often a superintendent. If your mother opens a mezuzah store, should she call it “Ms. Zuzah”? Perhaps, and that is way better than “Klaf Corner,” “Parchment Place” or “Doorway Depot.”

If you frantically and hysterically check your mezuzah every single hour, are you mezuzah meshuga? Yes or you have MCD, Mezuzah Compulsive Disorder. Why is the mezuzah parchment so secretive? It’s always undercover. Why do mezuzah makers love social media? They love to post.

There are many laws, rules and regulations regarding the mezuzah, many of which lead to all sorts of fascinating issues. If the mezuzah parchment was perforated in the location of the writing, it is invalid; if in an empty space, it is valid. That makes sense and from a practical standpoint, a perforated parchment would be difficult to read just like a perforated home would be difficult to waterproof.

If one wrote the letter vav as a zayin, a zayin as a vav, regular letters as final ones, final ones as regular ones, the paragraph separators petucha as setuma, setuma as petucha, or if you mixed up its other letters or wrote them in Paleo-Hebrewscript, the entire parchment is invalid. In addition, if you made all of these errors on a single parchment, perhaps you are in the wrong line of work.

Many scholars argue that a storehouse for hay, a woodshed, a general storehouse and a cattle barn are exempt from the requirement of mezuzah. Other scholars argue that cone-shaped huts, watchtowers, field sheds and tanneries also are exempt from the mezuzah requirement. And all scholars agree that the mezuzah requirement does not apply to a mailbox including an Outlook mailbox. Many scholars argue that the gates of a city and gates of streets require a mezuzah but the pearly gates do not. Many scholars also argue that the gates of courtyards are exempt but the gates of Courtyard Marriotts may not be.

Some scholars argue that as to an entrance from the roof into the house, one affixes a mezuzah in the direction of the house coming from the roof. Other scholars, however, argue that an entrance from the roof does not require a mezuzah. And some scholars wonder why people would enter their house through the roof unless they are parachutists.

Some scholars argue that a resident of an inn in the Land of Israel requires a mezuzah after thirty days and a renter in the Land of Israel affixes a mezuzah immediately upon moving in. The same scholars also argue that outside of the Land of Israel, a resident of an inn is exempt and the renter affixes a mezuzah after thirty days. And if you are crashing on your friend’s couch in or outside of the Land of Israel, you should hang up a mezuzah right away or at least before you get kicked out.

Final thought: While you should affix a mezuzah on every eligible doorpost, there are some things that you should not affix to a doorpost including your dental records, bucket list and last will & testament.

By Jon Kranz

 

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