Parsha Encounters



Parshas Shemos:

“The Time is Now”

Moshe M. Willner

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Parshas Shemos

“The Time is Now”

Moshe M. Willner

At the revelation of the burning bush, Hashem spoke to Moshe Rabbeinu saying, “Remove your shoes from your feet for the place you are standing is holy ground.”(Shemos 3:5)

The Chofetz Chaim explains that the statement “The place you are standing is holy…” was not exclusively for Moshe Rabbeinu, but rather a message to every Jew throughout the generations. The Mishna in Avos states, “Do not say: when I’ll have the chance I’ll study Torah.” We may have the tendency to think that now is not the opportune time to start a certain mitzvah or begin a mesechta. When things get a little easier at work, or when I’ll feel better, is when I’ll start. The pasuk calls out to us, “The place where you are standing is holy ground.” Wherever, whenever, however we can, is how Hashem expects us to serve Him.

When one finds himself in situations that do not lend themselves to excelling in yiddishkeit, those are opportunities in which to reap dividends as never before. As the Mishna states, “Ben Hei Hei says: The reward is in proportion to the exertion.”( Avos 5:26). An example of this can be found by the third meal we are required to eat on Shabbos. The way it is referred to is Shalosh Seudos, or three meals. The obvious question is why we do not call it seuda shlishis, the third meal, as it is only one meal. An answer offered is that the first two meals come at a time when one is usually hungry. The third meal, however, can require a bit more effort at eating, after we were satisfied by the first two. Eating the third meal testifies to the fact that the first two meals were eaten in honor of Shabbos, and not for one’s own desire. Henceforth, the meal is called shalosh seudos-by putting in the extra effort one gets reward for all three meals by the eating of one.

This applies to all of our mitzvos. In addition to the extra reward for the effort one expended on a given mitzva, one can uplift mitzvos that were done in easier times by fulfilling them in trying situations. A story is told of a Chassidic Rebbe, who once announced at a public gathering that whoever had a request from Heaven, could ask it then, and he would tell the person what Hashem had answered. Everyone assembled was sure they would witness some form of prophecy. After a few moments of silence, the Rebbe said, “Although I possess no power of prophecy, I will tell you what transpired in Heaven. You all requested the same thing. “Hashem, please remove some hardship, and then I’ll serve You with a full heart with all my ability. The reply from Heaven was, “maichol toivas” do not do me any favors. There is no trick to serving Me without problems. Specifically with your hardships is how I love to see your mitzvah observance.” May we all merit to realize the “holiness” of the seeming problems in our lives, and serve Hashem with all our hearts.

Halacha Encounters

Mezuzah Basics

Rabbi Moshe Rosenstein

Chazal tell us that when puraniyos befall anyone in the world, even if it is seemingly completely disconnected to Jews or Eretz Yisroel, there is always a lesson for Klal Yisroel to be had. The enormity of the tragic events of this past week are certainly no exception. No one can say for sure what lesson is to be taken from events such as these, and there is no question that the human suffering and staggering loss of life is by far the greatest aspect of this tragedy, but perhaps images of homes being destroyed can spur a chizuk in an area of halacha that pertains to the shemira of the Jewish home. The Beis Yosef writes that we find it to be “an open miracle” that homes that have mezuzos properly affixed to their doors are saved from tragedy and destruction. Perhaps it behooves us to place just a little bit more of a focus on this special mitzvah.

Proper Placement of the Mezuzah

While there are a great many halachos and parameters which delineate which doorways and rooms require mezuzos, when to put them up 1 and on which side to place the mezuzah, in this week’s Halacha Encounters we will focus only on the halachos regarding the placement of a mezuzah on those doorways that require one. There are a few basic rules that dictate the proper manner and place to affix a mezuzuah to the doorpost:

1 – The mezuzah must be affixed in a permanent fashion to the doorpost.

2 – The mezuzah may not be placed on the lower two thirds of the doorpost.

3 – The mezuzah must be within 3.5” of the open airspace of the doorway.

4 – The entire mezuzah should be within the first 3.5” of the doorpost.

5 – The mezuzah should be placed within the hollow of the doorframe.

We will now examine each of these rules individually.

Affixed in a Permanent Fashion

A mezuzah must be affixed with any type of permanent binding. While the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch mention nails (or screws), any strong tape that adheres in a permanent fashion is sufficient. Double sided mounting tape or a strong packing or duct tape may be used. Simple cellophane, or Scotch, tape is not considered to be a permanent attachment.

In the Upper Third of the Doorpost

No part of the mezuzah may be below the bottom of the top third of the doorframe. In other words, if one has a doorframe that is 7.5’ tall, the entire mezuzah must be affixed within the top 2.5’.

While there are those who are makpid, particular, that the mezuzah should be specifically at the bottom of the upper third, the generally accepted minhag is to not be particular about this. Anywhere within the upper third is acceptable, provided it is more than a tefach, according to most poskim 3.5”, from the lintel.

If any part of the mezuzah is below the top third, the placement is not valid and the mezuzah should be removed and reaffixed in the proper fashion. The only exception to this rule is when the doorframe is unusually high and if by affixing the mezuzah in the top third it will be above the average person’s height, it should then be affixed lower, at about the average person’s shoulder-height, even if that is below the top third.

Within a Tefach of the Actual Doorway

The mezuzah must be within 3.5” of the actual area that is open when the door is open. For instance, if a double sliding door has the left pane that slides and the right pane is fixed in its position, the mezuzah should actually be affixed to the stationary right pane and not the larger doorframe. If one affixes the mezuzah to the larger frame, the mezuzah is not within 3.5” of the actual entranceway and is invalid. 2 If this is not possible to be done, a shailoh should be asked.

Within the First Tefach

Preferably, the mezuzah should be affixed so that the entire mezuzah is within the first tefach, or 3.5”, of the doorframe upon entering. This is so that the mezuzah should be “met” immediately upon one’s entering a doorway. In a situation where this is not possible (as is the case many times when the door opens outwards, out of the room) or not practical (if one is afraid it would get stolen or ruined), one may place the mezuzah deeper into the doorframe and, if need be, even behind the actual door.

Within the Hollow of the Doorframe

The mezuzah should be within the actual hollow of the doorframe, on the surface of the doorframe that actually faces into the airspace of the entranceway.

It should preferably not be affixed in front of the doorframe (i.e. on the surface of the doorframe that faces out of the doorway) or behind it. If one must affix a mezuzah in this fashion, a shailoh should be asked. Under most circumstances a mezuzah may not be affixed to any surface other than the doorframe itself. If the only place available for the mezuzah is the wall adjacent to the doorframe or the door itself, a shailoh should be asked.

B’ezras Hashem we should all be zocheh to Divine protection and salvation from kol minei puraniyos shelo yavo.

Rabbi Rosenstein learns full time in the Kollel and is a frequent contributor to Halacha Encounters.


1 It should be pointed out, however, that there is a common misconception regarding the “30 day rule.” The only time that 30 days plays any role in determining when to affix a mezuzah is when one is renting a dwelling. If one purchases a home, the mezuzos must be affixed immediately upon moving anything into the home.

2 Note that this can be a complication when it comes to sliding or accordion doors.

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