Friday, July 27, 2018




Everyone knows how challenging and busy the days before Pesach are, particularly for women. It’s all the truer on the night of erev Pesach itself.
One year, after Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein shlita had already performed bedikas chometz on the night of erev Pesach, there was a knock on the front door. The Rebbitzin[1] opened the door to find a beggar standing there holding a little chometz-ridden basket requesting a place to sleep for the night. The Rebbitzin welcomed him in and made him feel comfortable.
In the morning after he left, she quickly cleaned up and did another bedikas chometz. When she was asked why she inconvenienced herself to such a degree, she simply replied, “This is not my home; this is Hashem’s home! He wants me to welcome in that needy man, so how could I refuse?”

Rabbi Dr Abraham Twerski related that in his youth everything in his home surrounded the mitzva associated with that action. His mother never called the family to come eat supper, but that they should come to wash netilas yadayim and make a beracha. They were never called to the Shabbos seudah but to come hear kiddush. They weren’t told to wake up but to wash naygel vasser, and they weren’t told to go to sleep but to recite shema.

At the end of the first parsha of Shema, the Torah teaches about the mitzvah of mezuzah. “And write them on the doorposts of your house and upon your gates"[2]
Generally, a mitzva is defined by the object used to perform the mitzva, such as shofar, lulav, and tefillin. However, the word "mezuza" means "doorpost"; the object of the mitzva has no defining name other than the post upon which it is placed. This would be comparable to referring to tefillin as "arm". Why is the mitzva being defined by the structure upon which it rests?
The halacha is that when one moves out of a home, if the new owner is Jewish, the previous owner is not permitted to remove his mezuzos.
The Gemara[3] relates a story about an individual who ignored this responsibility and was punished with the loss of his family. Why is not leaving mezuzos behind considered such a severe sin that the person deserved such a harsh punishment?
In Megillas Rus, the Megila relates that before leaving the land of Moav to return to Eretz Yisrael, Naomi attempted to dissuade her daughter-in-law Rus from converting to Judaism. Among the laws she mentions in that effort was that Rus will be required to observe the mitzva of mezuza. Why would the mitzva of mezuzos intimidate Rus in any way?
Rav Yochanan Zweig explains that the mitzvah of mezuzah contains an important message for a Torah Jew. In the secular world a man’s home is his castle. Although throughout the day he may have to listen to the instructions and dictates of others - such as his boss, when he walks into his own home he is master, and once he crosses the threshold into his home no one can tell him what to do. When one hangs his family name on his front door, he is publicizing that within this door he is the one who calls the shots.
When a person places a mezuzah on his doorpost, he affixes the Name of Hashem and the instruction of Hashem to his home. In so doing, he is declaring that he is not the master of the domain, Hashem is! This home attempts to follow the laws and commandments of G-d above all else!
This was the poignant message that Noami was conveying to Rus at that critical juncture. Don’t think that being Jewish is only from 9-5 during the workweek, or when you are in shul. Being a Jew entails submitting yourself to Hashem in every facet of your life. There is no privacy or closed doors from Hashem.
It’s for that reason that one is obligated to leave his mezuzos behind when he moves out of a home. Doing so demonstrates that this was and remains the domain of Hashem. Only the one inhabiting it is changing; but the owner of the home and the One who has the final say of what goes on within it will remain exactly the same.
A person who removes the mezuza is denying Hashem's control over his home. Therefore, the consequence is that that he loses his own home, i.e. his family.
The mezuza functions to make a home "Hashem's home". Therefore, the object of the mitzva becomes the home, not the name affixed to it. Consequently, the mitzva is defined by the doorpost of the house.
In a similar vein, it is accepted that we refer to the bread we eat on Shabbos as challah. The truth is that we do not eat challah. Challah is the section of the bread which must be separated and given to a Kohain. (Since we no longer have a Bais Hamikdash, we separate it and burn it.) Since the mitzvah of separating challah from our dough so beloved to us, we refer to the entire loaf is challah. But in truth is what we mean is that we are eating the bread from which challah has been removed.
The idea of the importance and value of the often-overlooked mitzva of mezuzah is expressed poignantly by the Rambam in the final halacha in hilchos mezuza:
“One should be very wary with (the mitzvah of) mezuzah for it is a perpetually binding mitzvah. Whenever one enters or leaves a home with the Mezuzah on the doorpost, he will be confronted with the Declaration of God's Unity, blessed be His holy name; and will remember the love due to God, and will be aroused from his slumbers and his foolish absorption in temporal vanities. He will realize that nothing endures forever, except for knowledge of the Ruler of the Universe. This thought will help him return to his senses and follow the path of the just...”
One who appreciates the message of mezuzah and internalizes it, will live in the privacy of his home with a sense of humility before Hashem, knowing that it’s really Hashem’s home.

“He will be confronted with the Declaration of God's Unity”
“On the doorposts of your house and upon your gates”

Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW
Rebbe/Guidance Counselor – Heichal HaTorah
Principal – Ohr Naftoli- New Windsor

[1] Rebbitzin Aliza Zilberstein was the daughter of Rav Elyashiv zt’l. She passed away in 1999. Rabbi Zilberstein has remarried since then.
[2] Devorim 6:9
[3] Bava Metzia 102a


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