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Tuesday, Menachem Av 19, 5782 / August 16, 2022


Amongst the mitzvot found in last week’s Parsha, Va’etchanan, and again in this week’s Parsha, Aikev, are the mitzvot of Tefillin and Mezuzah.


The mitzvah of Tefillin consists of two mitzvot. One Tefillin is put on the arm and the other on the head. This mitzvah is performed only on weekdays, not on Shabbat or holidays in which work is prohibited.


The Mezuzah is placed on each doorpost of the home, except for the bathroom etc.   


The Torah says, "And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand and they shall be for Tefillin between your eyes… And you shall write them upon the posts of your house and your gates."


Inside each box of Tefillin are four passages of the Torah. In the hand Tefillin all four passages are written on one parchment. In the head Tefillin, which consists of four compartments, the four portions are written on four separate pieces of parchment, and each is placed in a different compartment. The Mezuzah consists of only two passages of the Torah written on one piece of parchment.


The parchment, upon which the Tefillin and Mezuzah are written, must be made by a Jew and must conform to the very specific stipulations of The Code of Jewish Law. The same applies to the writing of the Tefillin and Mezuzot. Every letter must be handwritten by a G-d fearing Jew, just like a Torah scroll.


The Torah scroll, Tefillin and mezuzot cannot be mass produced. Each pair of Tefillin and Mezuzah is a meticulous writing process. They cannot be made in China, which is why they cost so much, but the mitzvah is so great that they are definitely worth their price.   


Q.  Why is the letter "Shin" written on the outside of the Mezuzah?


A.  The "Shin" is the first letter of one of G-d's names, Shad’eye, which is spelled; Shin, daled, yud.. These three letters serve as an acronym for the words, "Shomer Daltei Yisrael" - "G-d watches over the doors of Israel."


The Talmud tells the following wonderful story: A special friendship existed between King Antoninus and the leader of the Jewish people, Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi. Once, Antoninus sent Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi a precious stone as a gift. In return Rabbi Yehudah sent him back a Mezuzah.


Antoninus was puzzled: "I sent you such an expensive gift and you send me a piece of parchment?"


Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi replied, "The gift you sent me, I will have to guard to make sure that no one steals it. But my gift to you, the Mezuzah, will guard you and protect you at all times!"




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