Sunday, 29 November 2020

Mezuza for Non-Jewish Friend

Question: A non-Jewish work colleague asked me if I could buy a mezuza for her as she believes it is a good luck charm. I explained to her that we are not supposed to. Can I give her one that is passul instead?

Answer: The Gemara Yerushalmi (Peah 1:1) teaches that R’ Yehuda Hanasi gave Artaban a mezuza in return for a precious stone. Nonetheless, the poskim write that this does not mean that we can just give mezuzos away to anyone.

The Rema (Darkei Moshe YD 291:2) relates that a particular ruler once promised to act favourably towards his Jewish subjects providing that they gave him a mezuza. If they did not, he promised there would be reprisals. The Maharil ruled that they must not send it. R’ Yaakov Emden (She’elas Yaavetz 2:121) challenges the Maharil from this Gemara Yerushalmi, writing that one may certainly give a mezuza to a non-Jewish person who has promised to protect it.

However, the Rema (ibid; YD 291:2) writes that one should avoid giving a mezuza to a non-Jewish person unless it will potentially cause animosity (eivah). R’ Yissachar Ber Eilenberg (Beer Sheva 36) agrees with the Rema and suggests, among other reasons, that R’ Yehuda Hanasi gave Artaban a mezuza as it is only prohibited to give a mezuza to an idolater. Nonetheless, the Ben Ish Chai (Rav Pealim YD 4:25) notes that the Beer Sheva only suggests this as a possibility, though is not lenient in this regard. R’ Mordechai Yaakov Breisch (Chelkas Yakov YD:158) quotes the Pnei Moshe who suggests that Artevan may have been Jewish himself.

R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe YD 1:184) writes that even when we are assured that the non-Jewish person will safeguard the mezuza, we are concerned what may happen if they pass away, and their heirs choose to discard it.  He adds that it is not right to give them a passul mezuza, as that is a prohibition of geneivas daas, misleading others (See ibid. YD 2:141:3).

In conclusion, one should not give a mezuza to a non-Jewish person under normal circumstances, whether it is kosher or not.

Sunday, 15 November 2020

Mezuza for Carer

Question: We are hiring a carer to look after our mother. As she is not Jewish, do we need to place a mezuza on her door?

Answer: The Rema (YD 286:1) writes that one who shares a house with a non-Jewish roommate is not obligated to affix a mezuza to their door. The Gemara (Yoma 11a) teaches that the city gates of Mechuza did not have mezuzos. As the non-Jewish inhabitants may have suspected the Jewish residents of witchcraft, it was deemed dangerous. The Bach (YD 286) and Taz (YD 286:2) explain that this is why modern city gates don’t have mezuzos. Additionally, we are concerned that the mezuza may get mistreated (See Shach YD 286:6).

The Shulchan Aruch (YD 291:2) writes that the obligation to affix a mezuza is on the one living in a home rather than the owner. Therefore, one renting a house to a non-Jewish person should not affix mezuzos on that house.

The Aruch Hashulchan (YD 286:3) writes that one who employs a non-Jewish person who lives in their house is obligated to affix a mezuza on their bedroom. He explains that this is not the same as one who rents their room out to a non-Jewish person, as when they are employed and living in their house, that room is considered to be one that the Jewish homeowner is using for their employee (See Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:650).

R’ Shraga Feivish Schneebalg (Shraga Hameir 4:20:2) writes that if one has non-Jewish people working in one’s office, one does not need to affix mezuzos in their offices. If Jewish people do go into those offices, too, then they require mezuzos. R’ Aharon Aryeh Schechter and R’ Uri Auerbach (Pischei Shearim 286:59) write that this applies to a carer’s room, too. Therefore, one would only need to affix a meuza if they have access to the room, too.

In conclusion, one does not need to fix a mezuza to a non-Jewish carer’s room that one has no access to.

Sunday, 8 November 2020

Missing Mezuza

Question: We were decorating our daughter’s bedroom and removed the mezuza case only to find to that it was empty. We have ordered a new mezuza. Can she sleep there without a mezuza until it arrives?

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 38:12) writes that if one cannot afford to buy oneself both tefillin and a mezuza and needs to choose one over the other, they should buy a pair of tefillin. The Rema (YD 285:1) explains that this is because tefillin is a mitzva that pertains to the individual, as opposed to mezuza which belongs to the house. However, the Magen Avraham (38:15) writes that as we no longer wear tefillin all day, one should rather buy a mezuza and borrow someone else’s tefillin. The Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham 38:15) adds that while tefillin are considered holier than mezuzos, the mitzva of mezuza applies on Shabbos and Yom Tov. Therefore, one must move out of a room without a mezuza on Shabbos or Yom Tov if they have another room available.

The Pischei Teshuva (YD 285:1), Ben Ish Chai (Ki Savo 2:2) and Aruch Hashulchan (YD 285:5) add that this applies equally during the week. If there is no mezuza on the door, one should move to another room if there is one available.

The Magen Avraham (13:8, quoting the Mordechai) and Sedei Chemed (40:115), however, write that one does not need to leave their house without a mezuza (See Tzitz Eliezer 13:53).

R’ Avraham Dovid Wahrman (Daas Kedoshim, Mikdash Me’at 285:3) suggests that one may declare their house hefker, ownerless, thereby obviating the need to affix a mezuza. Nonetheless, the Sedei Chemed concludes that this is not necessary, and one may stay in a house without a mezuza.

In conclusion, one should try one’s utmost to affix a mezuza as soon as one can. In the meantime, it is preferable for your daughter to sleep in another room. If that is not feasible, then she can stay there without one.

Sunday, 1 November 2020

Fallen Mezuza

Question: We were moving some furniture around our house and knocked off a mezuza. Do we need to fast? Do we say a new beracha when putting it back up?

Answer: The Pischei Teshuva (YD 289:1) and Aruch Hashulchan (YD 289:4) write that just as one has to recite a new beracha when putting their tallis back on after it has fallen off (Shulchan Aruch OC 8:14), so too, one must recite a new beracha when rehanging a mezuza that fell (See Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 11:7).

R' Moshe Stern (Baer Moshe 6:6) adds that the same would apply if the top nail was dislodged, causing the mezuza to hang upside down.

However, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer YD 3:17:11) writes that one would not recite a new beracha when reaffixing a mezuza that had fallen. When a tallis falls off, one has already fulfilled the mitzva and is not required to put it back on. If one chooses to do so, one recites a new beracha. If one’s mezuza falls off, however, one is required to immediately reaffix it as the mitzva never ended (See Halichos Shlomo, Tefilla 3:14).

R’ Menashe Klein (Mishne Halachos 5:195) and R’ Yitzchak Yosef (Yalkut Yosef, Sova Semachos, Mezuza 106) write that one does not need to fast if one’s mezuza falls. They quote the Magen Avraham (44:5) who writes that there is a minhag to fast if one dropped one’s tefillin, though notes that no mention is made of one’s mezuza (See Shraga Hameir 3:12). They write that one should give money to tzedakah instead.

In conclusion, if a mezuza falls, one should replace it immediately. While Ashkenazim should recite a new beracha when they do so, many Sefardim do not. One should give tzedakah rather than fast.