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Shabbat Parashat Pekudei| 5766

Moreshet Shaul

From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - A Notation on a Mezuzah That It Has Been Checked - Part 1 - Based on Amud Hay’mini, pp.358-363
 The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 288:15) and Rama say that one may not add any writing on the inside of a mezuzah (there is a minhag to write certain things on the outside of the scroll). The source is the gemara’sderivation (in Menachot 32b) from a pasuk that when one writes a mezuzah like a letter, including extra letters or missing ones (Rashi and Tosafot, ad loc.), the mezuzah is not valid. The Shulchan Aruch extends this concept to writing extraneous matters (see Gra, ad loc.). The nature of the derivation implies that if one violates it and writes other things on the mezuzah, than it is pasul b’dieved (invalid after the fact). Based on this, Rav Moshe Feinstein could not understand that which the Noda B’yehuda (I, YD 74) said that an extra letter found on a Torah scroll or tefillin does not render it invalid. Although the Ra’avad does rule like the Noda B’yehuda, the Rambam (Mezuzah 5:3) and Shulchan Aruch do not, and the latter’s opinions should be accepted as halacha.
 However, we should look carefully at the Shulchan Aruch’s ruling. As opposed to the gemara, regarding a mezuzah written like a letter, which uses the term “invalid”, the Shulchan Aruch (ibid.) says only that it is forbidden to write on the mezuzah, which implies that it may not be invalid after the fact. Although the Rambam seems to explain the gemara (ibid.) as referring to superfluous letters, even if they are out of any context, Rashi and Tosafot explain it as discussing misspelled words, with extra or missing letters. Although the Shulchan Aruch says to operatively follow the Rambam’s prohibition on writing extra words, we accept, after the fact, the opinion of Rashi, Tosafot and the Ra’avad, that extra letters do not change the text’s contents.
 We should also note a difference between the language of the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch. The Tur, based on his father, the Rosh, says that one should not write anything on the mezuzah’sinside and should not include any impressions from signets, as it makes it look as if he is making an amulet to protect him. If the issue is what it makes the mezuzah look like, this cannot be the same halacha that is derived formally in the aforementioned gemara. The Shulchan Aruch, apparently in deference to the Rambam, writes, “it is forbidden,” as opposed to the Tur’s, “one should not.” However, he does not go as far as to invalidate such a mezuzah after the fact. As we pointed out, according to the Noda B’yehuda, even the Rambam invalidates the mezuzah only when the extra letter is written along with the text so that it affects the meaning. Let us examine the Rambam’s use of juxtaposition in this matter. He discusses writing an extraneous letter along with writing the text with improper chaseirot and yeteirot (usage of letters representing vowels (i.e. yuds and vavs)). This implies that the letters he discusses are along with the body of the text. The need to mention extra letters after disqualifying a mezuzah withmisspelling is because we might have thought that the latter is more serious, as it disregards the Masoretic tradition. Alternatively, the second passage of the Rambam may add on that even an extra letter in the beginning or end of a word, not just in the middle, disqualifies it.
 On the other hand, there is some indication that the Rambam disqualifies any writing on the inside of the mezuzah. He criticizes (ibid.:4) those who write the names of angels on the inside for nullifying (bitul) of the mitzva and also turning a mitzva into an amulet. (This is different from writing the name of Hashem on the back of the scroll). It sounds like there are two separate problems: 1) misapplying the mitzva’s intent; 2) disqualifying the mezuzah by writing on its inside. On the other hand, the Rambam does not actually use the regular term “pasul,” and the matter requires further study.
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This edition of
Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
Gershon (George) ben Chayim HaCohen Kaplan and
R’ Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.
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 in loving memory of Max and Mary Sutker and Louis and Lillian Klein,z”l.
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