by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
On my post on Mezuzah's, anonymous commented: "What a nice god you have! He smites people down because their Sofer made a mistake! He also magically changes the mezuzah when one sins! Why can't I get such a nice cuddly lovable god?"
Another commented regarding using mezuzos as some sort of talisman or amulet is contrary to halacha.
In last week’s Torah portion (Bechukosai) we read many times that G-d acts toward us according to the way that we act toward Him.[i] From this we understand that (using your language) we “get the kind of G-d” depending upon the way we behave toward, and perceive of, Him. Yes, my G-d is “lovable,” really gorgeous. In fact, there is nothing more lovable in the entire creation than the Creator. To see even the briefest speck of His loving glory makes all of life’s ups and downs worth while.
It seems, by the way you wrote, that you do not perceive of G-d as being a loving G-d, but apparently, as a stern, judgmental, even caustic G-d. Well, that is entirely optional. He is all things to all people.
To understand, as least on a basic level, why it appears that G-d is smiting people because of their sofer’s mistakes, remember the principle “portion across from portion” (mida kenegid mida). Everything comes according to its measure and for a good reason. Certainly you know that there are no accidents in the world. We may not be able to always understand why any particular thing comes to us, but we do know that it all comes for a good reason.
This principle is found many times in the Torah. For instance, in this week’s Torah portion (Bamidbar) we learn that the firstborn is redeemed for five shekels.[ii] The commentators explain that this amount was set because of the value of the coins that Yosef’s brother received when they sold him into slavery many years before. This result (the redemption value) was caused by that previous action (Yosef’s price). In this world there is not only physical cause and effect, there is also spiritual cause and effect.
When something happens to your hand, (seemingly good or bad), you have to ask, “Why did this come to my hand?” In order to be able to understand why that happened to you, remember that it had to come because of something that you did with your hand, not with your foot, or any other part of your body. Otherwise, what hope would there be of ever being able to guide your life? G-d runs the world by the principle of mida keneged mida for this very reason—so we will be able to understand the consequences of our actions. The consequences must reflect the actions.
Why did the man in our story choose that sofer (scribe)? Why did he get that particular mezuzah? All this came for a reason. To lose sight of this is to believe in a random, chaotic world with haphazard results flying down upon our heads.
As far as “magically” changing the mezuzahs, remember the story of Elisha, Master of Wings (Shabbos 49a)? He was caught by the Romans wearing his tefillin when there was a life threatening ban against wearing them. He quickly took off the head piece of his tefillin and tried to conceal it in his cupped hands. When the Roman soldier, threatening his life, asked him what was in his hands, he said that it was a dove. The soldier forced him to open his hands, and sure enough there was a live dove there. Did G-d magically change his tefillin into a living bird? Surely He changed it into the bird, but not with magic. Pharaoh’s advisors used magic. G-d just wills what He wants and it happens.
As for the other two comments stating that mezuzahs cannot be used as amulets, certainly this is the halacha. But where in these stories did you find someone putting up their mezuzahs as amulets?
If you are interested, there are many mezuzah and tefillin stories that show that these objects are not dead animal skins, but rather they are holy vessels that allow us to elevate our spiritual lives. Do not be surprised that these holy objects both reflect and affect our daily lives.
[i] Leviticus 26:16,17 26:24 26:28 26:41
[ii] Leviticus 3:47
(The image is of a mezuzah parchment.)
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Sunday, June 01, 2008
// 6/01/2008 //