From the Desk - What's the Deal with Mezuzot?
Shalom Friends! I hope you're all having a lovely week and are enjoying the snow! Here, we are busy preparing for our exciting Chanukah event - My Big Fat Greek Chanukah Dinner! The dinner will be on Friday December 30th at 5:45 pm. Please book through the office by calling (514)748-6559, by Friday December 23rd. On our Facebook page, you can find a few videos where I explain certain Jewish practices. As well as discussing dreidels and Chanukah gelt, I also have a video on the appropriate way to mark a yahrtzeit. If you have a yahrtzeit coming up, it's well worth taking a look. In the same vein, I am adding a weekly section in my letter to the community, entitled 'What's the Deal With..." This section will discuss various aspects of Jewish practice and provide an explanation of how it is done and of its underlying ideas. We wish those of you who have gone away a good vacation and those who are going away, a safe trip. For those staying with us, stay warm and safe and we hope to see you soon! Shabbat Shalom, Rabbi Anthony and Carly Knopf Dovid, Rachelli, Yehuda and Avrami
What's the Deal with Mezuzot? The mitzvah of mezuzah is one of the most commonly observed mitzvot but there are many details and ideas with which most Jews are not familiar. The great rabbi, Rambam, explains that this mitzvah serves as a constant reminder of God's presence each time one enters or leaves a room. There is also an idea, based on the Talmud that the mezuzah protects the home from harm. Some authorities imply that, in order to enjoy this protection, one must have a mezuzah on each doorpost of his or her home, not only on the front door. Despite any benefits that one may receive by having a mezuzah, it is appropriate to do the mitzvah with the intention of fulfilling the word of God. Some people have the practice of placing their hand on the mezuzah when leaving or entering the home and the practice of kissing the mezuzah is ascribed to the great 16th century Kaballist, the Arizal. In general, we put a mezuzah on each doorpost in a home. However, we don't put a mezuzah on a bathroom or shower room as it is disrespectful to have a mezuzah on a room where people are frequently undressed. One fascinating law that few people know of is that there is no obligation to have a mezuzah on a shul if there is no residence attached to it. There are a number of reasons suggested for this. Some say it is because a synagogue cannot be said to actually 'belong' to somebody and there is only a requirement of mezuzah where there is a clear ownership of the property. The Rambam gives a different explanation. He says that synagogues are exempt from a mezuzah on account of their sanctity. Some explain this idea as follows: Any place that is designated for human residence requires a mezuzah but places designated for G-d's residence do not require a mezuzah. There is a commonly held belief that one only needs to put up mezuzot 30 days after moving into a new home. This is mistaken. If one owns the property, one needs to put the mezuzot up straight away. The 30 day grace period only applies when one is renting (the law is different for property in Israel). A couple of reasons are given for this. The first is that it is not called a home until you have resided there for 30 days. The second reason is that we are worried that the renter may change his mind in the first month and move out of the home. Based on the second reason, if the renter signs a contract that prevents him from defaulting in the first 30 days, the mezuzah should be put up immediately.