As any good homeowner knows, it’s not the little boxes with the flashing lights that protect your home. It’s the police station. You just need to make sure those little boxes are properly connected.
A mezuzzah on your doorpost works much the same way, only that it’s connected to a Higher Security Service. Much higher.
The word “mezuzzah” appears for the first time in the Torah in the telling of the exodus from Egypt. Before the last plague struck the Egyptian firstborn, God instructed the Jewish people to place the blood of the first “Pascal offering” on their doorposts (mezuzzot): “The blood shall be a sign for you upon the houses where you are; when I see the blood I shall pass over you,” (Exodus, 12,13).
This is why the holiday of the Exodus is called Passover.
The Midrash Mechilta (as well as the Zohar) states that these verses are the source for the concept of mezuzzah stating; “that if the blood of the Passover sacrifice which was of little weight, for it was required for only one generation and by night only, not by day; yet He would not allow the destroyer…to strike you” How much more so will he not permit the destroyer into a house which bears a mezuzzah, which is of greater weight, seeing that the Divine Name is repeated there 10 times, it is there by day and night and it is a law for all generations.
We see from this account the direct connection between the mitzvah of mezuzzah and Divine protection. A mezuzzah that is placed on the doorpost as commanded by God at Sinai still has the power “to not allow the destroyer to come into your house to smite you”
In fact, the commandment of mezuzzah in Deuteronomy: “You shall write them (the sh’ma) on the doorposts of your house and of your gates” is followed by a promise “so that your days may be multiplied and the days of your children” (Deuteronomy, 11, 21).
The Biblical notion of the protective powers of the mezuzzah are repeated in the Mishna and Talmud. It is further strengthened and elevated to Jewish law (halachah) in the Shulchan Aruch.
The Code of Jewish Law goes on to rule that the mezuzah, aside from its reward of long life for oneself and one’s children as stated in the Torah, has the effect of guarding the house and its inhabitants from any harm. The Beth Yosef calls this an open miracle.
Rabbeinu Bachaya writes: “To impart the principle that Divine protection pervades Israel at all times, day and night, the Torah commanded us to place the mezuzzah at the entrance of our homes. We will thus be cognizant of this principle of Divine protection when ever we enter a home and we will be mindful that this protection is constantly with us. Even at night His protection surrounds our house and protects us while we sleep.
He writes further: “God is called ‘The Guardian of Israel.’ As it is said: “Behold, He that guards Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps’” (Psalms 121:4).
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, explains that unlike other mitzvot, such as honoring one’s parents, for which the Torah promises longevity, the protection afforded by the mezuzzah is not a reward for the mitzvah but rather an immediate and essential result of its observance.
A short story: It is 1974, Arab terrorists invade the Holy Land, murdering and destroying property. At Ma’alot School, a busload of children from nearby Tzfat are brutally murdered. The world is shocked. The Rebbe calls for a strengthening of spiritual defenses, emphasizing the mitzvah of mezuzzah.
At one of the many public addresses on the subject, the Rebbe related: “I received a call from Tzfat. The caller checked the mezuzzos at the yeshiva where the children had been studying and 17 mezuzzos were found non-kosher. Seventeen children from that yeshiva were killed.
“God forbid to say,” the Rebbe continued, “that it was the absence of kosher mezuzzot that caused these children’s deaths. Heaven Forbid! However, just as a soldier must wear a heavy helmet to protect himself from enemy bullets, likewise, the mezuzzah protects the Jew. The helmet may be heavy and costly, and it may even disturb one’s concentration.
“If he does not wear the helmet and is hit by enemy fire, it is the enemy who killed him, not the lack of the helmet.” Yet wearing the helmet would have saved him.
Now for some practicalities: a common misconception is that only the main entrance to the home requires a mezuzzah. Of course, it is better to have one mezuzzah on the front door then no mezuzzah at all, and if you only have one mezuzzah, it should be placed on the home’s main entrance. However, to properly fulfill the mitzvah, every room in the house or office should have its own mezuzzah. Many questions may arise when affixing mezuzzot: for example, do garage doors, boiler rooms, attics, outdoor sheds or crawl spaces require a mezuzzah? If renting office space from a non-Jew, is a mezuzzah required? What if I never use the door in question? What blessing is said when affixing mezuzzot?
All these questions and more should be addressed to a rabbi familiar in the laws of mezuzzah.
As we approach the New Year, what better time than now to connect to the Main Server and utilize that special protection function. As the sages of the Talmud taught, put a mezuzzah on your door and you’re protected in your house and away. Now that’s something no earthbound service offers.