Mezuzah Maven

For the week ending 27 January 2018 / 11 Shevat 5778

Mazikin: Negative Spiritual Energies

by Rabbi Ze'ev Kraines
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Rashi asserts that the mezuzah has the spiritual power to protect the house from negative spiritual energies, commonly referred to in the Talmud as mazikin (“damagers”). The Midrash derives this also from the daubing of Jewish doorposts with blood to prevent the mashchit (destructive force) from entering their homes on the night of the Pesach Exodus:

Is not the matter logical? If, regarding the blood of the korban Pesach in Egypt that was only for a night, the Torah writes, “He will not allow the mashchit (to come into your home)” — even more so (in the merit of) the mezuzah, which contains ten inscriptions of the ineffable Name and applies day and night for all generations, will He prevent the mashchit from entering.

In Zohar Chadash, Rabbi Yossi bar Yehudah teaches that a mezuzah affixed to the doorpost of a home serves as a protection against the “messengers of evil.” These messengers, when confronted by the name of G-d, ש-ד-י, which is on the exterior of the mezuzah, realize that G-d is watching over this domicile and they will refrain from entering. Rabbi Nahorai adds that the word “מזוזות - mezuzot” is a combination of the words “זז - zaz” and “מות - mavet” which mean literally: “Death: Move away!”

This factor has halachic and even monetary implications. The Talmud rules that one who moves from a house may not remove its mezuzot. Doing so would expose the home to mazikin and thereby cause possible damage to the subsequent dweller. The Sages report that this disregard for the safety of the subsequent dweller can have severe consequences.

The famous Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg at one point ruled that his Beit Hamidrash was exempt from mezuzah placement. He reported that during that period he sensed the presence of mazikin disturbing his afternoon rest.

Whether the nature of the mezuzah’s protective power is moral, physical or spiritual, it remains merely a secondary byproduct of the awesome power embedded in the fulfillment of the Divine Word itself.

  • Sources: Rashi, Menachot 33b; Mechilta 22:76; Zohar Chadash, Rut 84a; Bava Metziah 101b-102a; Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 291:2; Tur Y.D. 286:10

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