Today, most Jews observe the mitzvah of Mezuzah. Why is this mitzvah so widespread with the majority of our nation wanting to uphold it and believe in the protection it provides? It can be said that it does not require any significant adoption of morals or Introspection. In this article I will explain the depth of this commandment, which changes the entire concept of Jewish thought.
The Importance of Mezuzah from the Gemara
In Massechet Succah it is written that a Succah is exempt from Mezuzah because it is a temporary dwelling. However, there is a deeper explanation for why a Succah is exempt from Mezuzah; The reason behind this statement – as taught by Rav Eliyahu Zini – is that a Jew must place a fine a Mezuzah in every doorway in order to remember while he is home protected with concrete walls and window bars that the real source of protection is God, but a Succah offers no physical elements that might distract him from this understand of who is the only true responsible for protection.
So, why does the Mezuzah protect us? Indeed, the Mezuzah contains two sacred Parshiyot written on parchment, but many Jewish homes are filled with holy books, and even a room storing a full and kosher Seffer Torah scroll is required to have a Mezuzah on the door post.
The famous Unkelos commentary regarding mezuzot
Chazel teach us about the famous convert Onkelos who was originally a prominent Roman nobleman and a nephew of one of the cruelest Roman emperors, Hadrian. When Onkelos was still a gentile, his uncle Hadrian told him that success in business depends ones investment and the demand for what one has invested in. Therefore, it is better to purchase goods that are currently under-appreciated, and wait for the demand and price to increase.
Onkelos went to study Torah because he understood that the Torah is precious but under-evaluated. Emperor Hadrian was upset at him for understanding his lesson in a different way than his intention. The emperor sent three battalions to convince Onkelos not to waste his efforts on the Torah, but Onkelos managed to persuade the delegation to convert to Judaism. It is said that he convinced them by discussing the mitzvah of Mezuzah. Onkelos put his hand on the Mezuzah and kissed it. The Gentiles asked him what it was, and he answered: “See how special the people of Israel are, who God their king protects from the dangers of the outer world. Unlike all other nations, where the king rests inside the palace and his soldiers protect him from the outer world. The Midrash concludes that when Hadrian’s delegation heard this novelty, they converted themselves.
The Mezuzah expresses the external protection of the king who descends from his throne to the people and guards them. This was also the practice of King David in war until his people begged him to stop fighting.
Thus, Moshe Rabbeinu asks God to appoint a leader who will come before them and leave before them – a leader who does not follow the custom of the nations of the world in which the leader stays in back in the battlefield, but rather a leader who shows a personal example and is an encouragement to his people in battle.
Therefore, not only the Parshiyot protect us, but the location of the Mezuzah itself in the entrance on the outside expresses God’s special care and keeping over us. Oded danieli Sofer stam.