Mezuzah Maven

For the week ending 5 May 2018 / 20 Iyyar 5778


by Rabbi Ze'ev Kraines
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Q: I’m curious to know why there is a rule that berachot (saying a blessing) generally precede a mitzvah. Also, what can be done if one forgets to make a beracha before affixing a mezuzah?

A: Our Sages explain that a beracha is not merely a perfunctory obligation. When we recite the words: “He Who sanctified us with His commandments,” we are striving to uplift ourselves to connect with the sanctity and spirituality of the act we are about to perform. In this sense, the beracha actually breathes more soul into the physical body of the mitzvah.

Moreover, the beracha focuses our hearts and minds on the reality that what we are about to perform is a fulfillment of the Divine will, and it publicizes that belief to all who hear it.

If one does not recite a beracha before affixing the mezuzah, many authorities rule that you may not make one afterwards. However, if you are still involved in adjusting the position of the mezuzah, you may still make a blessing. Of course, if you are going to be putting up another mezuzah at the time, as you are making a beracha on the next oneyou can have the first mezuzah in mind as well. Alternatively, you can take the mezuzah down and put a different one in its place with a beracha.

These are the preferred procedures. However, many authorities allow a blessing to be recited in the following ways:

Some write that when the time comes to do the periodic check to see if the mezuzah is still kosher, one may remove the mezuzah for that purpose and afterwards replace it, with a beracha.

Still others opine that since the mitzvah continues to be fulfilled passively even after the act of placement, a beracha may still be made. According to this opinion, one may simply put one’s hand on the mezuzah and make a beracha, even long after its original placement.

  • Sources: Ritva, Pesachim 7b; Agur B’ohalecha 7:5, 7; Shach 286:25; Aruch HaShulchan 286:24; Iggros Moshe 1:179

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