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Shabbat Parashat Lech Lecha| 5764

Ask the Rabbi

Question: I am going to remove my mezuzah in order to paint the doorpost. When I put it back, do I make the beracha for affixing a mezuzah?
Answer: First let us bring a more common discussion among poskim, which looks almost identical. Then we can see how to apply the conclusions to our case.
 The Pitchei Teshuva (Yoreh Deah 289:1) discusses the case of one who removes a mezuzah to check if it is still kosher. His first thought and that of other Acharonim (discussion by Rishonim has not been found) is to compare the question to an even more well-known one. The Tur (Orach Chayim 8) says that if one removes his talit with the intention of putting it back on after a relatively short amount of time, he does not make a beracha when he puts it back on. The Beit Yosef (ad loc.) argues, based on a gemara (Sukka 46a) that Rava would make a beracha on his tefillin every time he left the bathroom, despite the fact that he had in mind to put the tefillin back on immediately afterward. The Darkei Moshe (ad loc.) deflects this proof by distinguishing between a case of one who breaks his performance of the mitzva  with a situation where he is not allowed to fulfill it (tefillin in the bathroom) and one who removes his talit  but may return it at any point. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 8:14), based on his comments in Beit Yosef, requires a beracha upon returning a talit. The Rama (=Darkei Moshe), says not to make the beracha.
 The Admat Kodesh (I, YD 18) says that those who follow the view of the Shulchan Aruch (classically, Sephardim) should likewise make a beracha when putting back a mezuzah, as the mitzva was interrupted when he removed it, whereas those who follow the Rama (Ashkenazim) might not. However, there are problems with both of these assumptions. Firstly, later Sephardic poskim rejected the view of the Shulchan Aruch and do not require a  beracha upon returning a talit (see a summary of opinions in Yechave Da’at III, 80). On the other hand, one of the most authoritative Sephardic poskim, theChida (Birkei Yosef, Yoreh Deah, 286:10), writes that he is unsure whether after removing a mezuzah,one should make a beracha upon returning it.
 The Pitchei Teshuva (ibid.) explains that the doubt may be based on the following distinction between the case of talit and that of checking a mezuzah. One who removes the talit  has every reason to expect that he can return it without problem or unnecessary delay. However, when one removes the mezuzah in order to check it, he should be concerned that it will indeed be found pasul. Therefore, one cannot say as easily that his intention regarding the continued performance of the mitzva isuninterrupted. Another factor that plays a role is the time factor. The Aruch Hashulchan (YD 289:4) says that if a day goes by before he puts the mezuzah back then he should make a new beracha. It is hard to summarize all of the opinions among the latter poskim. It appears that the majority of poskim, partially because of the concept of safek berachot l’hakel, say that in a case where one checks the mezuzah and puts it back promptly, he does not make a new beracha. Rav Ovadia Yosef (Yechave Da’at, ibid.) is a notable exception. A logical compromise position is that if one gives the mezuzah over to a sofer,with the matter leaving the owner’s control, then he requires a beracha but otherwise not (see Chovat Hadar 11: (26)). 
When one paints doorposts, he fully expects to put the mezuzot back. On the other hand, usually one leaves the mezuzot off for a couple of days so the paint will dry. It is worthwhile to take the opportunity to do the required, periodic check (approximately every 3-4 years). If one switches around the mezuzot from different doorposts, there are even more opinions that require a beracha (beyond our scope), and all the factors together make the beracha clearly appropriate.
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This edition of
Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
R’ Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.,
and Yitzchak Eliezer Ben Avraham Mordechai Jacobson o.b.m.

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