“We sit inside our homes, while our King stands outside and guards us!”
“And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house.” (Devarim 6:9)
The word “your house,” is written in the singular, masculine form. Does this exempt woman from mezuzah? Says Rabi Meir (Yoma 11:6), “The Torah would never exempt women from putting up a mezuzah. Why not? Because following the parshah of mezuzah, the Torah writes, ‘In order that you and your children live long…’ ” Mezuzah is therefore a source of life, and women surely require long life no less than men. So the obligation to fix a mezuzah on one’s doorpost must apply to everyone equally. (Rav Eliezer Chrysler, adapted from Torah Temimah)
“Sara’s in the hospital,” my husband said, hanging up the phone.
I looked up from the meatballs I was making. “In the hospital? From the flu?”
Sara was a close relative of ours, and I knew she’d been under the weather for the last week or so, but this was pre-Covid days — people just didn’t end up in the hospital when they were sick from the flu.
“It’s more than the flu… well, actually, it’s not the flu.” My husband’s voice was tense. “Her doctor just got the results of her blood work and told her to go straight to the hospital. She has acute liver failure.”
The Gemara in Berachos (20b) expresses a similar idea when it explains why women have an obligation in tefillah equal to men, despite the fact that tefillah is a positive, time-related mitzvah, a category of mitzvos from which women are generally exempt. The Gemara says that the Torah cannot possibly exempt women from tefillah, since tefillah is synonymous with Divine mercy, and women need Divine mercy just as much as men do.
My husband and I jumped into the car and drove straight to the hospital. Sara had been moved to the ICU. We were in shock. Sara was a young, healthy person. How could her liver simply stop functioning? It didn’t make sense!
Yet whether it made sense or not, it quickly became apparent that her situation was life-threatening. A decision was made to fly her and her husband with medical assistance to Europe in the hope of finding a donor more quickly to save her life. If she stayed in Israel, it was unlikely a donor would be found in time.
The doctors in Europe assessed her situation and it was clear it was dire. They put her into a medically induced coma, hoping to help her hang on to life while waiting for a donor. Each second was precious as they searched for a match. But days were going by, and her situation was becoming more precarious.
Onkelus the Ger’s conversion to Judaism so infuriated his uncle, the Emperor Hadrian, that he sent a platoon of soldiers to recall him to Rome. But when the troops arrived, Onkelus convinced them to remain and learn Torah. So Hadrian sent a second platoon with instructions to seize Onkelus, and added specific instructions not to engage him in conversation. Without saying a word, the soldiers took Onkelus and began their homeward journey to Rome. However, as they passed a mezuzah, Onkelus stretched out his hand and kissed it.
“Do you know what this is?” he asked them.
“You tell us,” the soldiers replied.
While this may not have been a full conversation, these few words proved to be their undoing.
“The difference between your emperor and our (Divine) King is this,” replied Onkelus. “Your emperor sits in his palace, while his subjects stand outside and guard him. With us Jews, it’s the reverse. We sit inside our homes, while our King stands outside and guards us!” This group of soldiers also converted, and Hadrian gave up.
Back at home, her friends and family stormed the Heavens with tefillah. My husband decided to go to their house to check their mezuzahs. They’d been living in a rental and had received the house with the mezuzahs there, so it was unclear when they’d last been checked. Imagine our shock when the sofer called to tell us that two of the mezuzahs were not up to par, including the one on Sara’s bedroom door. A third mezuzah case was missing a klaf entirely. My husband decided on the spot to replace all the mezuzahs in the home with mehudar ones.
Within 24 hours of hanging these new mezuzahs, a donor was found for Sara.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 805)
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