In Times of Tragedy, Check Your Mezuzahs
By Rabbi Moishe Kievman - Chabad Chayil
July 29, 2021
It is well known that whenever a tragedy G-d forbid hits, we right away check our Mezuzahs.
As every homeowner knows, it's not our alarm system that protects your home, but rather who the alarm will call. You just need to make sure the alarm is connected. A mezuzah on your doorpost works the same way - only that it's connected to a Higher Protection Agency. Much higher.
What is a Mezuzah?
The mezuzah (Lit. “doorpost”) is a small scroll that contains the Hebrew words of the Shema. Mezuzah scrolls are rolled up and affixed (usually inside a decorative case) to the doorposts of Jewish homes, reminding those who live there of their connection to G‑d and their heritage. The Mezuzah is seen as a symbol of protection for the home.
With the start of the Jewish New Year approaching, Chabad Chayil will be hosting a scribe to help the community ensure that their Mezuzahs are legit and properly Kosher. The time leading up to the High Holidays is traditionally dedicated to personal introspection, and according to a wide-spread Jewish custom, this includes checking the mezuzot to ensure they are not fake or unkosher.
A Mezuzah is a scroll upon which the first two sections of the Shema — Biblical verses that form a core tenet of the Jewish faith — are handwritten, beginning with the Shema Yisrael prayer - the eternal words “Hear o Israel, the L‑rd is our G‑d, the L‑rd is One." These selections each contain G‑d’s instruction to affix the mezuzah: “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” These words are handwritten by an expert scribe who is trained in the many laws involved in writing a mezuzah, including the requirement that it be written with special intention, that the words be written in order and on genuine parchment from a Kosher animal, using a special ink.
At least twice in seven years, we take down our mezuzahs and have them professionally checked to ascertain that they are still intact. The scribe examines the scrolls to ensure that each letter is still there with all their crowns, no letters have been cracked or faded and that the mezuzah is still good. Our vigilance keeps our mezuzahs performing their function: bringing holiness, protection and merit to our home.
It can't be emphasized enough how important it is that a mezuzah should be purchased only from a reputable seller. I would highly advise against purchasing a mezuzah online or from an unknown source. In my experience, many mezuzot sold today do not conform to the kosher standards. Some of them are even printed on paper instead of parchment — essentially making them fake mezuzot!
Weather conditions can also effect the Mezuzah, causing even good Mezuzahs, to become unkosher. Especially here in South Florida, where there is so much humidity, it is very common for the scrolls to often need to be replaced.
Although we have no financial benefit from bringing down the Sofer, we will gladly help cover the expenses of the checking, for whomever needs. If anyone needs a Mezuzah and can’t afford to pay or would like to make a payment plan, feel free to contact my office and we will help you arrange that. Another great community resource is the Mezuzah Club ( http://www.mezuzahclub.org ), where they will happily give a Mezuzah to any Jewish student that needs one for their dorm room. For more information about the Mezuzah or directions on how to hang it in your home or business, visit https://www.chabadchayil.org/library/article_cdo/aid/278476/jewish/Mezuzah.htm. You can get certified kosher Mezuzahs or Tefillin at the Chabad Chayil front desk. For help installing your Mezuzah, simply contact your local Chabad rabbi or call (305) 770-1919 and we'll either help you get in touch with your local Chabad or send someone to help you place them properly.
About the author:
Rabbi Kievman together with his wife are the ambassadors of The Rebbe to Highland Lakes, FL. They are the founders of CHAP - an afterschool program for Jewish children in Public Schools and direct Chabad Chayil, located at: Highland Lakes Jewish Center, North Miami Beach, FL 2601 NE 211 Terrace North Miami Beach, FL 33180. He’s the rabbi at The Family Shul and can be reached at (305) 770-1919 or rabbi@ChabadChayil.org, where you can also sign up for his weekly newsletter.