GOOD MORNING!  Many years ago while I was working in the Old City of Jerusalem, a tourist asked me to direct him to a store selling mezuzot. I took him to a shop and he picked out about 30 beautiful mezuzah cases and asked the shop keeper how much he owed. I asked the gentleman, "But what about the scrolls for inside the cases?" The man replied, "I don't need them. I am not that religious." Funny thing -- there is absolutely no mitzvah to place a mezuzah case upon one's door! Affixing the scroll upon the doorpost is the mitzvah. The case is only to protect the scroll inside and to beautify the mitzvah.

Why do we put a mezuzah on the doorposts in our homes? The Almighty commands us in the Torah, "And these words which I command you this day ... you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates" (Deuteronomy 6:9). The parchment containing "these words" is called a mezuzah after the place where it is to be affixed -- the doorpost (which is called in Hebrew a mezuzah).

The scroll must be parchment from the skin of a kosher animal, written with special kosher ink word for word, letter for letter by a God-fearing expert sofer (scribe) exactly as it is written in a Torah. Any other scroll -- printed, written on paper -- is invalid and if used, one does not fulfill the mitzvah of mezuzah.

The mezuzah should be placed at the beginning of the upper third of the doorpost of all rooms excepting bathrooms, toilets and small closets. The top of the mezuzah is angled in towards the room as you would enter it; the bottom of the mezuzah is towards the outside of the room. If you have questions, ask a rabbi.

The mezuzah is not an amulet for superstitious protection. It is a commandment -- and the fulfillment of a commandment brings one closer to the Almighty and provides spiritual merit. There is a custom to kiss a mezuzah upon entering or leaving a room. This is an expression of love for the mitzvah and for the Almighty; when one kisses the mezuzah, he thinks of what is written in it -- that God is one, to love God, to fulfill the commandments and that God watches over us and protects us -- and then one is naturally filled with love for God.

There is a 2,000 year old story about Onkeles, the nephew of the Emperor Titus. Onkeles asks his uncle for advice on succeeding in life. His uncle advises him, "Find that which is undervalued and invest in it." So ... Onkeles converts to Judaism.

Titus is not pleased. He sends a squad of soldiers to arrest his nephew. However, the squad gets into a discussion with Onkeles and the soldiers convert to Judaism. Titus sends a squad with direct orders not to talk with Onkeles. As they are escorting him out of his home, Onkeles reaches up and kisses the mezuzah. The soldiers are overcome with curiosity and ask him "Why did you kiss that?" Onkeles explains, "Your king sits on the inside and his soldiers are outside protecting him; We, the Jewish people, sit inside and our King protects us." The soldiers convert to Judaism. Titus stopped sending squads. Onkeles goes on to become a great sage whose Aramaic translation/commentary of the Torah is found in almost every Hebrew edition of the Torah.

Here is what is written in the mezuzah (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21):

"Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. And you shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your soul and all of your possessions. And these words that I command to you this day shall be upon your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and speak of them (the mitzvot) when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and rise up. You shall bind them upon your arm as a sign and as ornaments between your eyes (tefillin) and write them on the doorposts of your house (mezuzah).

"And if you will listen to My commandments that I command you this day to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all of your heart and with all of your soul, then I shall bring the rain for your land in the proper time -- the spring rains and the fall rains; and you shall gather your grain, your wine and your oil. And I will give grass in the fields for your animals and you will eat and be satisfied. And guard yourselves lest your heart be seduced and you turn and serve other gods and bow down to them. Then the wrath of the Almighty shall be upon you and He will hold back the heavens. There will not be rain and the ground will not give forth its produce. You will quickly be vanquished from the good land that the Lord gave to you. And you shall place these words upon your heart and upon your soul and bind them to be a sign upon your arm and as ornaments between your eyes. And teach them to your children to speak them while sitting in your house, when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you rise up. And write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates. (If you do this) you will lengthen your days and the days of your children upon the land that the Almighty swore to your forefathers to give to them for as long as the heavens are above the earth."

The mezuzah scroll is not inexpensive. Expect to pay between $40 and $100 for a 5 inch mezuzah. Be sure that it is certified to be kosher -- that it has a certificate that it has been written properly and checked for missing letters or words, etc. Mezuzot are generally available at your local Jewish bookstore. You can purchase a kosher one at JudaicaEnterprises.com (search: "mezuzah scroll" and scroll to the bottom past the mezuzah cases) or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242. And if you're not "so religious" -- then at least buy one kosher mezuzah (and case) for your front door!

 

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Torah Portion of the week

Korach, Numbers 16:1 - 18:32

There are two rebellions this week. First, Korach, a Levite, was passed over for the leadership of his tribe and then challenges Moshe over the position of High Priest. No good rebellion can be "sold" as a means for personal gain, so Korach convinces 250 men of renown that they must stand up for a matter of principle -- that each and every one of them has the right to the office of High Priest (which Moshe had announced that God had already designated his brother, Aharon, to serve).

Fascinatingly, all 250 followers of Korach accept Moshe's challenge to bring an offering of incense to see who God will choose to fill the one position. This meant that every man figured he would be the one out of 250 to not only be chosen, but to survive the ordeal. Moshe announces that if the earth splits and swallows up the rebels it is a sign that he (Moshe) is acting on God's authority. And thus it happened!

The next day the entire Israelite community rises in a second rebellion and complains to Moshe, "You have killed God's people!" The Almighty brings a plague which kills 14,700 people and only stops when Aharon offers an incense offering.

To settle the question once and for all, Moshe has the head of each tribe bring a staff with his name on it. The next morning only Aharon's staff had blossomed and brought forth almonds. The people were shown this sign. Aharon's staff was placed in front of the curtain of the ark as testimony for all time.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

When Moshe reprimands Korach for seeking the priesthood, he concludes:

"Therefore, you and your congregation who gather together are against the Almighty; and Aharon, who is he that you complain against him?" (Numbers 16:11)

What did Moshe mean when he said, "and Aharon, who is he"?

Rabbi Shlomo Kluger comments that when someone verbally abuses a very distinguished personage and then disparages a common person, the common person won't take great offense. This is what Moshe was saying to Korach. Since you are really complaining against the Almighty, how can your words hurt Aharon? He will easily remain oblivious to what you say since he sees that you also have complaints against the Almighty.

Our lesson: When we come in contact with a very critical person, we need not take offense at what he says. This is the way he speaks to all people so there is no reason to take it personally. Realize that the problem is his, not yours, and you free yourself from any possible hurt feelings from what he says.

 

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Candle Lighting Times

July 8
(or go to http://www.aish.com/sh/c/)

Jerusalem 7:13
Guatemala 6:18 - Hong Kong 6:54 - Honolulu 6:59
J'Burg 5:12 - London 8:59 - Los Angeles 7:50
Melbourne 4:57 - Mexico City 8:01 - Miami 7:58
New York 8:11 - Singapore 6:57 - Toronto 8:42


Quote of the Week

Jumping to conclusions can be a bad exercise

 

 

In Loving Memory of
Richard Wagner

Heartfelt condolences to
Sheila Wagner
 
In Loving Memory of
Esther bas Chaim

Howard & Tobi Ash

 

In Loving Memory of
Elie Weisel

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Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

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