29 Cheshvan 5778 – Toldot

I take this opportunity in welcoming all years K-2 students from Mount Sinai College to our Shule this Friday night where the students will join me in leading the Shabbat service. All are welcome!

Education at the Shule? This week on Tuesday we commenced our “Maroubra Beit Midrash (house of study)” and studied together the inner intricacies behind one of the most popular Jewish symbols – the Mezuzah! We will be continuing our ‘house of study’ over the upcoming three weeks, 45 minutes before Maariv. 

In addition, we will also be commencing our next Bar-Mitzvah preparation course this Sunday morning and I look forward to welcoming our next batch of boys and dads!

I wish to share with you one, beautiful idea that came out of our learning on Tuesday night. 

There is a debate between Rashi and the Tosafists as to how the Mezuzah should be positioned – vertically or horizontally. Rashi (on the Talmud, Menachot 33a) learns that the Mitzvah is to place it along the length of the doorpost, or in other words, vertically. Tosafot compares the Mezuzah to the Tablets that lay inside the holy ark. Just as they lay in a flat, horizontal position, so shall we position our Mezuzot along the flat width of the doorpost. How do we solve this argument?

Along came the 16th-century sage and legal codifier, Rabbi Moshe Iserles (nicknamed: the Rema) and suggested a middle ground between these two opinions: We should place the Mezuzah at an angle, with the top facing inward and the bottom facing outward. 

This answer may seem quite simple, yet it contains a profound message. The house is the abode of the husband and wife and further, of the entire family. What the slanting Mezuzah is quietly ‘teaching’ us every time we enter, is the secret to creating “Shalom Bayit” – tranquillity in the home. Each one should be prepared to compromise and ‘bend towards each other’ in helping to lead a harmonious family life. If we are full of ourselves and can’t make room for the opinion or needs of another, then our home will be reduced to friction and fragmentation. But if we have the humility and courage to allow our wife, husband or child’s need and wants to surface sometimes before our own, then our homes will be so much more peaceful and secure. 

I wish you all a Shabbat Shalom and look forward to seeing you over Shabbat.

Rabbi Yossi and Chana Raizel Friedman

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