August 19, 2016
The following Dvar Torah by HaRav Yochanan Zweig shlita of the Talmudic University of Miami Beach gives meaningful insight into a common mitzvah. Hope you enjoy. Have a great Shabbos, and hope to greet you all in Israel very soon....
And write them on the doorposts of your house and upon your gates (6:9).
This week's Parsha details the mitzvah of placing the ubiquitous mezuzah on the doorways of our homes. In fact, the word mezuzah itself means doorway. This seems a strange name for the piece of parchment that we affix to the doorway. Generally, names of mitzvos refer to the actual item utilized for the mitzvah, not how it is used or where it is placed; this would be like calling teffilin "forearm." Why is the name of this mitzvahdifferent, what is so significant about where it is placed that it becomes the very definition of the mitzvah?
When Bnei Yisroel were about to leave Egypt, on the 15th of Nissan, HaShem commanded them to place the blood of the Korban Pesach on the doorways of their homes. The reason given in the Torah is that on this night HaShem was going to visit all the Egyptian homes and kill all the first born. By placing the blood on the doorways it would be recognizable as a Jewish home and HaShem would "Pass-over" that home and not harm the inhabitants. In truth, this is a little odd. After all, HaShem Himself came to redeem the Jews that night and to smite the Egyptians; Why would He need the blood on the doorway to perceive the difference between the homes of the Jews and those of the Egyptians?
The answer, of course, is that the purpose of placing blood on the doorways was for our own sake. It was our declaration that we are Jews and not Egyptians. Physically putting the blood on the doorways of our homes was an articulation of our allegiance to HaShem. Chazal teach us that most of the Jews never left Egypt (see Rashi Shemos 13:17); they had seemingly fully integrated into Egyptian society. Placing the blood on the doorways was a way of showing who had chosen to be Jews and not Egyptians. Why was this sign also the doorways to their homes?
In American society "a person's home is their castle." That is, a person's home is considered their absolute space. This has many applicable ramifications in law. Basically all homeowners consider their home to be their kingdom, where their rule is absolute. Similar to having a family name on the door or a "Villa De ___" sign on the wall, when we put a mezuzah up at the entrance of our home we are declaring that this is God's space. By putting up a mezuzah we are proclaiming that even in our most private space we are still in His place. This is why the very essence of the mitzvah of mezuzah is its placement on the doorways of our homes - a declaration that our home is really His and that Hashem's rule is absolute, even in our personal space.