Tuesday, August 14, 2012

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Holy Writings

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by Reb Gutman Locks

(Gutman’s dining room mezuzah)

     The Sefer Torah, tefillin, and mezuzahs are written in our ancient, holy language on parchments. Not only is the exact wording prescribed, but the precise shapes of the letters, and even the spacing has been handed down to us from our fathers, our sages, and our prophets for thousands of years.

     As each generation moves further and further away from the original giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, the awe of that experience becomes weaker and weaker. To some, that historical experience has become borderline fantasy, and the Torah seems to them to be merely rabbinical ritual. But then, thank G-d, from time to time, something happens in our lives that brings back some of that awe, and reminds us that there are no mere rituals when it comes to holiness… that even our customs are extremely important.

     A month ago I had to go to a dental specialist. There was a rather serious operation where he had to extract broken pieces of a tooth or two that were buried deep inside my gum. OW! We are not sure what caused it, but the result is that I have to have two teeth implanted, and I had to wait for the wound to heal before he could insert the implants.

     We have to check our tefillin and mezuzahs twice in seven years. Even though tefillin and mezuzahs are always kept in protective containers, things can happen. Letters can crack. Water can seep in. Direct sunlight can damage the scroll. Age can take its toll. It was time for me to have my scrolls checked.

     The sofer (scribe) told me that my mezuzahs were fine; however there was one mezuzah that had two letters written in the Sephardic tradition, and my custom is to follow the tradition of the Ari (Chassidic).

     In my dining room mezuzah the inside part of the letter (peh) in two words had to be thickened to conform to the tradition of the Ari. This is the letter peh; פ

 image003 Peh is not just the name of a Hebrew letter. It is also a Hebrew word. It means mouth. As you can see, the letter is shaped like a mouth. And this is the shape that had to be drawn inside the peh

     I sat and watched the sofer add this tooth shaped line to two pehs on my dining room mezuzah just like the dentist is going to add to my mouth next week!

     Our tefillin and mezuzahs reflect what is going on in our lives. They identify us as Jews, and they guard us from harm. When they are not exactly right these functions are weakened. Treat them with great awe. They are not just words written on pieces of leather.

1 comments:

josh said...

I haven't come to the conclusion yet if our mezuzot reflect our lives or vice versa. After my father in law passed away, we checked the mezuzah and a chaf sofit was cracking up from nafshecha while the rest of the writing was very good. Did the bad mezuzah affect him or did he affect the mezuzah while he was sick and dying?

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