Parchment of Protection

During April, I had the pleasure of speaking for three different companies. Each company successfully established its unique identity and its own culture that informs customers and associates and helps them make productive decisions. We should all do the same in our own financial enterprises.

Rather than allowing neighborhoods, social trends, advertising or schools to form your family’s culture, sculpt one that reflects your deepest values and make sure your family gets it. Ancient Jewish wisdom’s advice on how to create a culture for your business and family makes both more effective.

The mezuzah found on the doorposts of Jewish homes is the expression of just this advice.

The Torah clearly instructs us to ‘write these words’ upon our doorposts (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 & 11:13-21), yet neither archeological nor other evidence exists that Jews ever inscribed words upon their doorposts. Instead, we have always carefully written the specified words upon a parchment and affixed that to our doorposts. This is one of many instances where a universal and timeless Jewish practice cannot possibly be understood just from the text. It validates for me the great Transmitters who faithfully conveyed God’s details and whose work is so lovingly enshrined in ancient Jewish wisdom.

Interestingly, from the first time mezuzah is used in Scripture, we can see that the word means doorpost:

They shall take some of its blood and place it upon the two

mezuzoth (plural of mezuzah) and on the lintel…

(Exodus 12:7)

Yet, the piece of parchment itself along with its housing has forever been known as a mezuzah. Hebrew is rich enough for it to have had its own name, but no such name exists. It is called a mezuzah – a doorpost. How strange; the parchment is the doorpost?

In reality, yes it is; the mezuzah itself is the spiritual equivalent of the physical doorpost. Just as a doorpost allows passage between public space and the private home so the mezuzah does the same.

After all, neither a business nor a home would be much good if there was no communication between it and the outside world. The effectiveness of a home depends upon family members going out to work and becoming involved in the world, then returning for restoration and warmth. The effectiveness of a business depends upon information, raw material and cash moving in while goods and services move out. For this reason, the word mezuzah is derived directly from the Hebrew word zuz meaning move.

There are homes which have a weak or non-existent internal culture and members of those families unthinkingly import destructive values from outside. Other families attempt to defend themselves by blocking off all contact with the outside. Neither of these extremes works well. Happy homes have mastered the secret of the mezuzah as have flourishing businesses.

The mezuzah teaches us how to move safely, easily, and effectively between inside and outside. The fifteen verses handwritten onto the mezuzah parchment direct us to inculcate a strong and unique culture with clear expectations of conduct both inside and outside. (Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God…you shall speak of these words when you sit in your home and when you walk upon the road…)

They promise protection, support and backup. (I will provide grass in your field for your cattle and you shall eat and be satisfied.)

They provide a core of strength to those leaving and a filtering detoxification system for those returning. (Beware…lest your heart be seduced and you turn away…)

The custom of a groom carrying his bride through the door probably originated with the spiritual importance of that portal. As my bride and I celebrate our wedding anniversary this week, we want to impart the specific spiritual strategies that strengthen our marriage. Naturally, we got them from our Biblical Blueprint and now, so can you. We treasure the practical wisdom in our 2 audio CD set, Madam, I’m Adam: Decoding the Marriage Secrets of Eden and we ask you to buy some for yourself and for others while it is on sale this week.

King David refers to the mezuzah with these words:

The Lord will protect your departure

and your arrival from now until forever.

(Psalms 121:8)

Amen.

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Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here.

This week’s Susan’s Musings: Happy (Homeschooling) Mother’s Day

If you want to be enthusiastic, hang around enthusiastic, people. And there is scarcely a more enthusiastic group than homeschooling parents. I had a wonderful time this week as a keynote speaker for the 4th annual Torah home education conference.

Homeschooling has grown rapidly in the United States, and there are churches I know where a majority of parents educate their children at home. However, it is only in recent years that the number of Jewish homeschooling families has grown significantly. There are reasons why Jews lagged behind in this American trend…

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