Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Hilchos Mezuzah Are Not In Mishna Brura

One of the frustrations I had when beginning to learn Mishna Brura was his the references out to other sections of the Shulchan Aruch.  "The nerve!  I came here to learn Jewish Law... now teach it to me, please.  Sheesh."  I was even more annoyed that there was no Mishna Brura on those other sections, meaning they were essentially closed to me and (in my mind), the Mishna Brura was failing in its appointed task.

There is a term used in computer support: PICNIC -- Problem In Chair, Not In Computer.  I was actually correct in my assessment that the Mishna Brura was failing in its appointed task.  The problem, however, was that I had appointed it that task.  The Mishna Brura failing to accomplish a task that I, in my vast wisdom had assigned to it.  Fortunately for me, the Mishna Brura was patient with me and continued to forge ahead; gently, yet firmly, instructing me that Orach Chaim is only the introduction.  Gently, yet firmly, demonstrating that my wisdom was not so vast after all.  HaShem also helped me, not so gently, but granting me three wonderful teenagers.  I don't struggle so much any more thinking my wisdom is vast.

The rosh kollel of the Dallas Area Torah Association also helped me.  It was an offhand comment, but it made a lasting impression.  The english translation of the Mishna Brura was just coming out and he commented, offhandedly, that someone whose Hebrew skills were not good enough to learn the Mishna Brura has other things he needs to learn before the Mishna Brura.  It shouldn't have surprised me, as I would say the same thing about someone who doesn't know differential geometry who wants to do quantum gravity research.  None the less, I had never thought of language as anything but, well, a language; what possible difference could that language make to one's comprehension of a subject.  Ah well... wrong again.  That led me to work very hard to learn Hebrew; and that opened whole new worlds for me.

A close friend and chavrusa for many years is planning a move to warmer climes.  Of course he wanted to learn/review hilchos mezuza.  When starting any new endeavor, laying a firm foundation is crucial to building a secure structure.  He and I have (finally) learned enough Mishna Brura and gemara to not faint straight away when we realized that we would have to travel to a new clime ourselves: Yoreh Dei'ah, beginning with siman 285.

The Taz explains fulfilling a mitzvah m'di'oraisa by affixing a mezuza, one is also affording oneself a measure of heavenly protection.  He brings sources that go so far as to say that the level of protection provided by a mezuzah is in the realm of "neis nigla"/open miracle.  One component of that comes from, and is the source for, the minhag to touch the mezuzah both going out and coming into the house.  Doing that reminds one that the One, Baruch Hu is overseeing every detail of our lives and further reminds of us our obligations in Torah and mitzvos.  The inspiration is rejuvenated with the passage through each doorway.  That level of awareness changes the household to the point that the home is protected even while everyone is asleep.

A mezuzah is only required on a wholly Jewish owned house; if the Jew is in partnership with a goy, there is not requirement for mezuzah.  The Shach explains because of a danger that the goy will think we are doing some sort of witchcraft.  The Taz waxed philosophical (again), and says it is because the mezuzah is about protecting us for long life, and that's only relevant to Jews.

Doesn't everyone want long life?  When the Torah says, "long life", it means life that is truly long... without end; it means not this world, but olam habah.  That comes from doing mitzvos; which brings us back to the beginning; the way to lay a proper foundation for any new home is to build it on Torah and Mitzvos; the stuff of eternity.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…