THE MEZUZAH: ITS SYMBOLISM AND CONSECRATION, NOVEMBER 7, 2014
A MEZUZAH ON A DOORPOST IS A DECLARATION, FOR ALL TO SEE, THAT THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE HERE ARE PROUD TO BE JEWISH AND LIVE JEWISH LIVES.
About 6 years ago, an Israeli reporter was told that buried in Germany were a large amount of personal and ceremonial artifacts, that were looted from Jews during Kristallnacht in 1938.
It was on Kristallnacht, also known as the "Night of Broken Glass" that the Nazis destroyed more than 200 synagogues, ransacked tens of thousands of Jewish businesses and homes, murdered close to 100 Jews, and arrested and deported more than 25,000 people.
A few months after being told about the artifacts, the Israeli reporter returned to Germany with a group of Israeli volunteers and within an hour of digging with their bare hands, they found glasses with a Star of David on them
Later the crew found armrests and mezuzahs from destroyed synagogues.
As if rising from the ashes, 70 years after Kristallnacht, an echo and a symbol of a past Jewish life in Germany, was unearthed, in the form of mezuzah.
If Kristallnacht represented the destruction of Jewish life then the unearthed mezuzah represented the reconstitution of a vibrant and proud Jewish community in Germany.
What, though, is a mezuzah and what is its message? Let's take a closer look.
A Jewish household is created by the people who live in it, by the way they act, the things that they do, and by the beliefs they hold.
When a person lights Chanukah candles, treats others with respect, or holds a Passover Seder, she is creating a Jewish household.
Jewish households also have a distinctive marker on them that announces to the entire world that this is a Jewish home. The marker is a mezuzah.
A mezuzah is a scroll, inside a case, on which verses of torah are inscribed. The mezuzah and its case are affixed to the doorpost of one's home.
The scroll is made from handmade parchment. Parchment comes from the skin of a kosher animal and the words on the parchment are inscribed in black ink with a special quill pen.
It is written by a special person called a sofer or a scribe. A mezuzah has 713 letters and if even one of them is missing, or shaped incorrectly, the mezuzah is not fit for use.
Two portions from the Torah are written on the parchment. The most famous verse is Shema Yisrael Adonai Elohaynu Adonai Echad. - Listen, Israel, the Lord is our G-d, the Lord is One. It also includes the Ve-Ahvta paragraph that follows the reading of the Shema at services. This paragraph includes the words: "And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
A mezuzah has a spiritual purpose, as well. Within our homes we strive for holy living.
A mezuzah scroll reminds us of our connection to G-d and our Jewish heritage. Its presence reminds us to infuse our daily doings with holiness and good deeds.
The mezuzah is also a symbol of G-d's watchfulness over the home. A name of G-d, Shaddai, appears on the reverse side of the parchment. Some say, it is an acronym for the Hebrew words which mean "Guardian of the doorways of Israel."
There is also a secret message written on the back side of the parchment. The key to breaking the code is knowing that the letters have been shifted one place in the alphabet. The secret message is "Adonai, is our G-d, Adonai".
The mezuzah is hung on the right side of the doorpost as you enter a room. It should be placed about one third of the way down the doorpost and at a slight angle, with the top of the mezuzah pointing toward the inside of the room you are entering.
When passing through a doorway where a mezuzah has been attached, many people kiss their finger tips and touch it as a way of showing respect and love for G-d and in order to strengthen their awareness of the mezuzah and its message.
Tonight we are holding a chanukat ha-bayit ceremony, in which we will reconsecrate our synagogue. This reconsecration ceremony is a symbol of the enduring spirit of the Jewish People.
In the spirit of our Jewish faith, we consecrate this synagogue with prayers of thanksgiving and invoke upon it the blessings of G-d.
(THE DOOR IS OPENED)
Hachnasat Orchim, or welcoming guests is an important Jewish value. Our forefather, Abraham, kept all four sides of his tent open, for guests to easily enter.
Our synagogue has always been a dwelling place of the Jewish spirit. May our doors continue to be open to the needy and the stranger. May all who enter this synagogue know joy, happiness and peace.
May this synagogue be a place for learning. May the hearts of all who enter here be filled with a love of Torah and its teachings. May this synagogue keep alive the beauty of our noble heritage.
Blessed is the Eternal, our G-d, Ruler of the universe, who hallows us with his Mitzvot, and commands us to engage in the study of Torah
(THE MEZUZAH IS RAISED)
This ancient symbol speaks to us of our need to love G-d and to live by G-d's words. We affix the mezuzah to the doorpost of this synagogue with the hope that it will always remind us of our duties to G-d and one another. May the divine spirit fill this synagogue - the spirit of love and kindness and consideration for all people.
Please G-d accept our offering of Thanksgiving. We pray that You fortify our resolve to make it, now and always, a temple dedicated to You. Let it be filled with the beauty of holiness and the warmth of love. May the guest and stranger find within it welcome and friendship. May the words of Torah be sweet in our mouths and in the mouths of all Your people.
For all who are assembled here, and for all who will enter these doors, we call upon You, dear G-d for blessing: May the Lord watch over us when we go out and when we come in, now and always. Amen
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