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The Mezuzah: Not for kissing, but for thinking

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

It is now forbidden to kiss Mezuzahs because of the coronavirus. This is the ruling of Rav David Lau, Israel's chief rabbi, to which he added: "It's sufficient to think about the words written in the mezuzah and they will accompany you wherever you go". Indeed, often our hand reaches out automatically to touch the mezuzah, but our head does not think for a moment about what's written inside. So here's a reminder: in every mezuzah on a piece of parchment two Torah passages are written: "Shema Yisrael " (Hear O Israel) and "Vehaya im shamoa" (And if you will obey). In these passages it is written that you must place the words of Torah upon your heart. Only after doing so should you write them in a mezuzah: "And these words that I command you this day shall be upon your heart... And you shall write them upon the mezuzot (doorposts) of your house, and upon your gates."

The mezuzah is a kind of road sign. Each time we enter a room, it reminds us of our values, of who we are, and of what we are meant to do. Rambam expresses this in a wonderful manner: "A person should be cautious in observing the mitzvah of mezuzah, for it is an obligation binding upon everyone all the time. Whenever you enter or leave a home with a mezuzah on the doorpost, you will encounter the declaration of G-d's complete indivisible unity, blessed be His holy name, and will remember the love due to Him, and be aroused from your slumbers and foolish absorption in ephemeral things. You will realize that nothing endures to all eternity except knowledge of the Ruler of the universe. This thought will immediately restore you to your senses and you will walk in the ways of righteousness".

So for the immediate future we will not be touching mezuzahs, but perhaps we will instead take the opportunity to think a little bit more about what's written inside them.


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