Finishing Mezuzah

Trimming Mezuzah to fit container

Trimming the Mezuzah scroll to fit in the Mezuzah container.

I finally trimmed the Mezuzah that has been sitting on my desk for the past 2-3 weeks. It now fits nicely in the mezuzah tube.

Once I had it in the tube, I showed it to Malka (Stephanie) and she liked it so much she wanted it on the front door instead of the Garage door.

Mezuzah installed on Doorpost.

Mezuzah installed on Doorpost. (Notice it is not slanted)

It is a custom of Ashkinazis to place the Mezuzah at an angle, top leaned in toward the home. The reason I’ve been given for this, is that the blessings are to flow into the house.

I place mine vertically for four reasons:

  1. Placing at an angle  so we can get a blessing seems too superstitious.  Like, should I hang my horseshoe curve up or curve down, in order for the “Luck” to come on my house.
  2. I desire my community to be blessed, not just my house.  The Deuteronomy 6 text talks about: when I come in, when I go out, when I sit down, when I lay down, and when I am walking on the way.  This blessing is too precious to keep for ourselves.
  3. Sephardic Jews place theirs vertically. (Even if the Sephardic group I meet with want to be Ashkenazi, I desire to be Sephardic.)
  4. I think it looks nicer and there is no real Biblical reason for one over the other.  I am sure that both groups can give a text that supports their position, but it is reason given after the fact to justify a decision already made. (In my humble opinion). Here is my text, for doing it vertically:

    16 I will bring the blind by a way they did not know;
    I will lead them in paths they have not known.
    I will make darkness light before them,
    And crooked places straight.
    These things I will do for them,
    And not forsake them.”
    Isaiah 42:16

May יהוה make the crooked places straight before you as you follow His ways.

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7 Responses to Finishing Mezuzah

  1. Jen says:

    The flowing-blessings thing is an after-the-fact homily, not the actual reason. The reason we hang it slanted is a compromise between two legal rulings; one which says it should be placed vertically as per instinct, and one which says it should be placed horizontally as per the scrolls in the Ark of the Covenant. Recognising that both views have merit, Ashkenazim combine the two as a perpetual reminder of a) both views b) the value of compromise. (That sentence is also an after-the-fact homily.)

    And it is not nice to roll the mezuzah so that the text faces outwards. You should take it out and reroll it properly, from left to right with the text inwards.

    • admin says:

      Jen,

      Interesting history with the information about the compromise.

      Thanks

      As for the mezuzah inside versus outside…

      Ok, I’ll bight…

      Why?

      Here was my thinking:

      The commandment is actually to write the words on the door post. If we ask why?

      Was it to be a decoration for the door?
      Was it to have a pretty box to look at?
      Was it to have something to kiss as we come in and out?

      We don’t know, but the obvious answer to this question is that יהוה wanted us to read his words. I believe based on the text, יהוה desire was the daily reading of his words. The writing on the doorpost might have been the only writing a Israelite home had. Only the rich could afford scrolls.

      I can see two problems with writing the words on the door post

      1) The words fade and disappear and thus if יהוה is written on the doorpost, then it also will disappear.
      2) Esthetics. If someone did not repaint each year, then it might start looking ratty, and if it was written by the people, it would not look professional to begin with.

      Now introduce a scroll that is written by a professionals, and then hide it in a protective box, and we’ve created a small ceramic, or stone idol and have not fulfilled what seems to be the desired goal of this activity, namely placing the words of יהוה before our eyes so that we are reading it and thinking about it.

      In an ideal world, I can see the fading as an advantage. Each year at passover time, as the people are thinking about the lambs blood that was placed on the doorpost, they could retrace not only their history, but the fading words on the door. The children could participate in this and have some great memories of יהוה’s words.

      The other day as I was riding my bike home from work, I saw a man kneeling beside his son as the 3-4 year old child painted the back side of the mailbox post, with a brush that was almost as big as he was. I could imagine a child like that growing up in a home where each year they not only learned how to read, but helped refresh, renew, and reestablish יהוה’s words not only on the doorpost, but also in their minds.

      Then the child becomes a teenager and everything is boring,..

      Ok, I can see problems with this as well, but I believe it is important that we see יהוה’s words, read them and think about them often.

      They had the same problem with fading on the two large stones described in Deuteronomy 27.

      It does not say that they inscribed or chiseled the words, it says write. (Ketav)

      The words were written as a reminder of what the “Rules” of the society were. The words were to be refreshed as a reminder that we constantly need to be refreshing our minds with יהוה’s words.

      By placing the words on the outside it is readable, and thus fulfilling what seems to be the implied reason for the commandment in the first place.

      It will not last as long on the scroll, but hopefully it will last longer in my mind and the minds of my family and friends who enter my home.

      If I have to write a mezuzah more often, then I’ll remember even better.

      I can understand wanting to protect the scroll. It is kadosh, expensive and since I wrote it, Lots of work.

      Why?

      Thanks

      Rodney

      • admin says:

        After I wrote my previous response, I went back and looked at the words.

        I knew that there was a word patuakh that means engrave, and there is the word used here ketav which means write.

        The word petuakh actually has a root that has to do with plowing. But the word ketav which is translated write can mean engrave as well, and most people believe this is the way it should be translated in the phrase “finger of God” as used referring to the ten commandments.

        Most of us would say the ten commandments were engraved not painted, or inked. I read that they have found doorways in Samaria that were indeed engraved.

        I went back and read the Deuteronomy passage and my memory did not match what I remembered. I think I heard a rabbi doing a midrash that described the stones covered in plaster. I do not find any of that in the text.

        Therefore, the commandment could be interpreted as engrave.

        It always helps to not trust your memory and go back to the original. Which is the reason I think the words are supposed to be written, engrave, or at least visible to those passing through the door

        • Jen says:

          I think you’re wrong in saying that the purpose of the scroll on the door is to be read; compare tefillin, which are certainly not meant to be read. Tefillin and mezuzot are close relatives in a way that reading-scrolls aren’t. Yes, you can’t learn that just by reading the Torah; you learn it by reading the Torah’s descendents, the earlier and later rabbinic texts.

          (You’re welcome to reject all that and base yourself wholly on the Torah, but then you don’t get to claim affinity with rabbinic Judaism, which seems to be your project at least to some degree.)

          So the mezuzah scroll is not intended to be read. You can’t read it when it’s all rolled up, anyway.

          Scrolls are precious documents; there are ways to treat them and ways not to treat them. Here it isn’t about pragmatics – how quickly it will wear out; or about you – how well you can read it; it’s about the Word and the respect due it. We don’t undress in front of Torah scrolls because that’s just gross. We don’t sit on a couch upon which a Torah scroll is resting. When we’re done reading the Torah, we roll it up neatly and put it away, we don’t just leave it lying around like something that doesn’t matter. And for a mezuzah too – some communities even had the practice not to sweep their floors in the direction of the mezuzah, because sweeping garbage in the direction of the mezuzah is nasty. And likewise, we don’t roll scrolls with the word facing out; it’s just not nice.

          I mean, yes, there are also pragmatic aspects; we don’t want the scrolls to wear out faster than need be, but basically it comes down to – there are ways to treat holy artefacts and there are ways not to treat holy artefacts, and rolling a mezuzah wrong side out is Something We Do Not Do. Es pasht nisht, as they say. That is unworthy.

          • admin says:

            My goal is not “to gain affinity with Rabbinic Judaism”

            My goal is gain affinity with the Torah. If Rabbinic Judaism indeed has affinity with that goal, then I am quite glad.

            I believe that Jeremiah 16:19 accurately tells of this time and my people when it says:

            19 O LORD, my strength and my stronghold,
            And my refuge in the day of distress,
            To You the nations will come
            From the ends of the earth and say,
            “Our fathers have inherited nothing but falsehood,
            Futility and things of no profit.”

            The goyim have indeed inherited lies, and this makes us distrustful of anything that tries to stand between us and the Torah. Because our leaders have lied to us about the Torah, we must see it with our own eyes in the Torah in order to believe

            We have witnessed the scriptures locked behind cathedral walls, and so forgive me if I do not totally trust the motive when a scroll is locked behind the walls of a mezuzah, or tefallin container. Especially when words seem to be piled upon words and the end result is a change from the original words.

            For example I have a hard time praying a prayer that Praises יהוה for commanding us to “Affix the mezuzah to the door post”

            There is no such command in the Torah, so the prayer, and even the actions of affixing seem to be violating the Torah.

            They seem to be adding to the words something that is not there. Which is forbidden

            Deuteronomy 4:2
            2 You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you

            Do I desire to follow the rules as to how things are written?
            Yes.

            What is the difference between this set of rules for writing a Torah and the rules about “affixing” a mezuzah?
            I don’t know. Maybe nothing is different, but at least with the Mezuzah, I can read the commandment directly and even it’s context, and I feel like some of what I find in Rabbinic Judaism feels and looks like the lies that the goyim are coming out of.

            I have no desire to flee one falsehood in order to embrace another, so I am taking is slowly and trying to understand what is actually written in the Torah first.

            I am not trying to be polemical. I am simply saying that this is the way it looks to someone who has been lied to before.

  2. Torree says:

    It’s BEAUTIFUL Uncle Rodney! Can we talk soon?

    Love ya

  3. Torree says:

    Uncle,
    I may be butting in and I don’t mean to, but it does make sense to me to have the words on the outside. Here’s my reason why, and my reason is simply so that people can see it. By putting the words on the inside isn’t that hiding the word of Yahweh? If I knew nothing about the Mezuzah and I just saw a rolled up piece of paper in a container on a door I would think you’re a little nuts but just keep walking. However if the words were on the outside the way you have it I would stop and ask what’s this, what does it say/mean. It can be used as a tool to introduce people to Yahweh if He is revealed through his word, but if you hide his word so people cannot see then no one will see Yahweh and what good is that? I like the way you have it personally. :)

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