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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.


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