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Thought for the Day: Mezuzah Needs To Be Attached, Not Found To Be Attached

No, this is not a Harry Potter hypothetical question when *POOF* a doorpost appears attached to your mezuzah.  This is a real live, halacha l'ma'aseh question.  How does this happen?  Let's get some background.

The Torah ha'k'dosha says, "u'k'savtam al m'zuzos beiseicha u'visha'recha"/you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and your gates.  The Torah does not mean, obviously, to take a pen and write "them" on your doorposts.  It actually means, as we all know, that you should attach bits of parchment (made with the intention to have at least k'dushas m'zuzah) that have two parashas from the Written Torah (sh'ma and v'haya im shamo'ah), that have been written (again, with proper intent and in order) with appropriate ink (again, made with proper intent).

Of course.  So what, then, does the imperative "you shall write" come to teach us?  That you have to attach the mezuzos to appropriate doorposts.  (For clarity, I shall endeavor to use the word "mezuzah" to mean the bit of parchment and "doorpost" to mean the frame to which the said bit of parchment is actually attached.  Mostly; unless it is obvious to me that I mean something different.)  What's an "appropriate" door?  Well, to be certainly obligated in a mezuzah, the doorpost has to:

  1. be a real doorpost, not just a support for a roof (so no mezuzah on your carport supports)
  2. have a door (so not just an opening between say, the kitchen and the dining room)
  3. enter into a room which is at least 4 amos by 4 amos
  4. be used as a normal path entry to and egress from said room (so not, say, the outside door used to refill the wine barrel stock once or twice a year into the wine cellar from the outside of the house when there is a normal door on the inside that is used daily or more by the wait staff and/or ba'al ha'bayis and/or his teenagers)
  5. enter into a room that is used for appropriate activities (not an outhouse, for example)
That's an exhausting list; that is, I am exhausted trying to remember all the details, but there probably are more.  Some of those are according to everyone (1, 4, 5); others are the subject of machlokes (2, 3).

Let's start with a carport that has supports.  No one requires a mezuzah on those supports; putting a mezuzah on them would be silly, putting a mezuzah on them with a bracha would be tragic for your soul.  You decide to fancy up your carport by installing a garage door, which requires a real door frame.  Let's suppose further that you use those supports as part of the new doorposts that you are building as you build out the door frame.  The mezuzah has to be put on after you are finished building and installing; if you do it sooner you would have to remove the mezuzah and then (re)attach it after the construction was finished.  Ditto if you stare with a closet (smaller than 4x4) and open it up to a beautiful new ballroom (bigger than 4x4).

Suppose you have a room which has an area of sixteen square amos, but is long and narrow.  Soom laundry rooms and even bedroom closets fit that description.  In that case, you should affix a mezuzah, but without a bracha.  Now you make it bigger so that it surely requires a mezuzah according to everyone.  Now you have to remove the mezuzah and re-attach it, again without a bracha, this time because maybe that room already required a mezuzah even before you did the remodeling.

My chavrusa and I have not even finished the first siman on m'zuzos.  I'll bet you're thrilled.


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