Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why we write Shakai in the Mezuza?

 I'm out on vacation and before leaving, I loaded my iPad with some new Torah apps that are really unbelievable. 

The first is the new Artscroll Talmud app, complete with its classic English elucidation and really handy for keeping up with the daf yomi, which I hope to follow at least for Brachot (this study already brought me an idea for another post - in Brachot 6a the Talmud says that God also dons a pair of Tefillin, more on that soon).

The second is simpler but also handy - Chok L'Israel, a daily limmud of Chumash, Nach,Mishma,Talmud and Zohar very popular among the Sephardi communities. In my very first usage, i came across something I had been looking for a long time: the source for writing Sha-dai in the verse of the Mezuza.  It's the Zohar brought in the first day of this week! I will quote the Hebrew translation because the original is quite difficult to understand:

זוהר ואתחנן דף רס''ו ע''א.
 בֹּא וּרְאֵה מִצַד שִׁפְחָה זוֹ יָצְאוּ כַּמָּה רוּחוֹת חוֹקְרֵי דִּין שֶׁמְּקַטְרְגִים כְּנֶגֶד יִשְׂרָאֵל, וּבָאִים  לְקַטְרֵג עֲלֵיהֶם. וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עָשָׂה שְׁמִירָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל כְּמוֹ אָב הָרוֹצֶה לִשְׁמֹר אֶת בְּנוֹ מִכָּל מִקְרֶה. אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, כַּמָּה מְקַטְרְגִים מוּכָנִים כְּנֶגְדְּכֶם, עִסְקוּ בַּעֲבוֹדָתִי, וַאֲנִי אֶהֱיֶה שׁוֹמֵר אֶתְכֶם מִבַחוּץ. אַתֶּם תִּהְיוּ נְתוּנִים בְּבָתֵּיכֶם מִבִּפְנִים וְתִהְיוּ יְשֵׁנִים בְּמִטָּתְכֶם, וַאֲנִי אֶהֱיֶה שׁוֹמֵר עֲלֵיכֶם מִבַּחוּץ, וּמִסָּבִיב מִטּוֹתֵיכֶם. וּבֹא וּרְאֵה, בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁאֵלּוּ מִינִים הָרָעִים קְרֵבִים לְפִתְחוֹ שֶׁל אָדָם, נוֹשְׂאִים רֹאשָׁם וּמִסְתַּכְּלִים בְּהַשֵּׁם הַקָּדוֹשׁ הַנִּרְאֶה מִבַּחוּץ, שֶׁהוּא שַׁדַּי, שֵׁם הַזֶּה שׁוֹלֵט עַל כֻּלָּם, מִמֶּנּוּ יְרֵאִים וּבוֹרְחִים, וְאֵינָם קְרֵבִים לְפִתְחוֹ שֶׁל הָאָדָם. אָמַר לֵיהּ רַבִּי יִצְחָק: אִם כֵּן, יִרְשֹׁם הָאָדָם שֵׁם הַזֶּה, שַׁדַּי, בְּפֶתַח הַבַּיִת, וְלֹא יוֹתֵר, לָמָּה צְרִיכִים כָּל הַפָּרָשָׁה שֶׁבַּמְּזוּזָה, אָמַר לוֹ, יָפֶה הוּא, כִּי שֵׁם הַזֶּה, שַׁדַּי, אֵינוֹ מִתְעַטֵּר, אֶלָּא בְּאֵלּוּ הָאוֹתִיּוֹת כֻּלָּם הָרְשׁוּמִים בִּרְשִׁימַת הַמֶּלֶךְ, וּכְשֶׁנִּכְתֶּבֶת כָּל הַפָּרָשָׁה, אָז מִתְעַטֵּר שֵׁם הַזֶּה בְּעִטְּרוֹתָיו. וְהַמֶּלֶךְ, יוֹצֵא בְּכָל צִבְאוֹתָיו, כֻּלָּם רְשׁוּמִים בִּרְשִׁימַת הַמֶּלֶךְ, שֶׁהִיא הַמַּלְכוּת, אָז מְפַחֲדִים מִפָּנָיו, וּבוֹרְחִים מִפָּנָיו. בֹּא וּרְאֵה וְהָיָה, שֶׁל וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמוֹעַ, הוּא שֵׁם קָדוֹשׁ, הַוָּיָה, מִמַּטָּה לְמַעְלָה. כִּי כָּתוּב תְּחִלָּה ו''ה וְאַחַר כָּךְ י''ה. וְעַל כֵּן, נִרְשָׁם הַשֵּׁם שַׁדַּי מִבַּחוּץ כְּנֶגֶד הַשֵּׁם הַזֶּה. הַשֵּׁם וְהָיָ''ה מִבִּפְנִים, וְשַׁדַּי מִבַּחוּץ. כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הָאָדָם נִשְׁמָר מִכָּל הַצְדָדִים מִבִּפְנִים וּמִבַּחוּץ

It seems clear from this Zohar that what really protects the house is not the Parshiot per se, but the word Sha-kai written upon the Parshiot. That's extremely interesting and it's evident from here that ommiting Sha-kai nullifies the protection. 

But i would like to focus in another interesting point.  The Zohar explains that Sha-kai must be written in the verse of the word Vehaia, because Vehaia can be re-arranged as the Tetragamon Name of God. My question is why not write it in the verse of the actual Tetragamon which is written so many times in the Mezuza? 

Perhaps the answer is that the Sha-kai is written in the verse of the Mezuza parchment, and when looking in the verse you can see the words of the Parshiot reversed (because they are written in the other side of the parchement). Thus, it makes more sense to write Sha-kai over a word that is a "reversed" Shem, like Vehaia, because in that side of the parchement it resembles more the Shem if compared to the other standard Shemot. 

Altenatively, I've seen that we writing Shakai in the verse of Vehaia is a kiyum of the pasuk יושב בסתר עליון בצל שדי יתלונן / He who dwells in the shelter of the Supreme shall abide in the shadow of Shakai. There was no further elucidation but my understanding is that בסתר here is an allusion to Vehaia, which is a hidden Name of God, and the pasuk says that this should be in the shadow of Shakai - in this case the pasuk makes perfect sense because you can see the shadow of Vehaia when writing Shakai on it!

I should mention that although Ashkenazim do follow this Zohar and write Shakai, they do so not in the verse of Vehaia but in the verse of the Parshiot gap which is right before he word Vehaia. The Rambam records this practice but I'm unsure why they - Ashkenazim and Rambam - don't follow the Zohar all the way. 

Here's how its brought in the Shulchan Aruch:

בש"ע יו"ד (סי' רפ"ח סעיף ט"ו) כתב וז"ל: אסור להוסיף בה מאומה אלא שמבחוץ כותבין שדי כנגד תיבת והיה שבפנים. וכתב הרמ"א: ויש אומרים נגד הריווח שבין הפרשיות (טור בשם הרא"ש ועוד), וכן נוהגין. ומניתין נקב בקנה נגד שם שדי שיהא נראה מבחוץ


Rabbi Nathan Glick said...

Why do we write Sh-D-Y over the word Vehaya at the beginning of the second Parsha of the Mezuzah, not over one of the Names Havayah on the first line?

It is definitely not because of the need to put the names K-U-Z-U etc over those first Names. That is a different custom, and many Sefardi gedolim don't even approve of it, while the writing of SH-D-Y is found in the Zohar.

As it was explained to me, the connection between the Sh-D-Y and Vehayah is this: (and forgive my oversimplification and translation of Kabbalah ideas into English...) There is a kind of awareness that Hashem has called "Daat" which is the bringing together of opposites, and which unifies the Transcendence of Hashem (referred to as "The Holy One Blessed be He")with his immanence or presence ("The Shechina"). Of course all of Hashem's manifestations are one anyway, but this particular unification brings Hashem's presence out of hidden-ness into revelation to our experience. Since Daat is unification and harmonization it is always two sided. One side, known as "Hasadim" (aspects of Kindness) stands on the side of transcendence, while the corresponding side is known as "Gevurot" (or aspects of Strength) which stand on the side of immanence and Shechina. The Daat emerges from Chochma and Bina (Wisdom and Understanding) and filters down until it actually becomes manifested in the union of Transcendence and Immanence.
In the mezuzah' the first chapter of Shema is the "Hasadim" while the second is the "Gevurot". As you write the mezuzah you intend to draw Hashem's Daat out of Chochma and Bina (symbolized by the Y and H of Hashem's name Y-H-V-H) and down thru the side of transcendence, in order for the "Gevurot" to be passed to the side of immanence. As long as you are writing the mezuzah you are enacting the descent of Daat through the side of immanence, and final stop seems to be that the 2 sides of Daat are still in transcendence, so it seems that the action is incomplete. That is quite a question if you think about it!

Rabbi Nathan Glick said...

The answer is that the side of immanence (the Shechina) is expressed by the "back side" of the mezuzah parchment! According to Torah law, no writing needs to be on the back side, because once you have set things up on the side of transcendence, the unification is "un-represented". This is because the essential light that brings the two sides of the Daat together and makes the unification "happen" is higher that either the Hasadim or the Gevurot, so you can't "write" it in letters...Get it?

However, when darkness increased in the world, Rabbi Shimon instituted writing SH-D-Y on the outside, to signify the transfer of the "Gevurot" to the side of immanence as well as the essential unification that brings together the Gevuort and the Hasadim and a result unifies Transcendence and Immanence. The letters D_Y really stand for the "Gevurot" (they can be combined into the letter He, which always stands for the Gevurot) where as the letter Shin stands for the essential light of unification (three lines coming together in a point..this is true even according sefardic script...but that is another story)

So here you have the answer to some questions

Rabbi Nathan Glick said...

Why put the SH-D-Y opposite the second chapter or Parsha?

Because the second Parsha stands for Gevurot, and that is the side that needs to be directly transferred to the mezuzah's corresponding alternate side (which is the real side of immanence, The Shechina)

Why over the word Vehaya? Not the name Havaya?

Because we are not trying to express in writing (at this point) the total system of Divine Manifestation, just the much more limited aspect of the Hasadim and Gevurot of the Daat. So this works best with the word Vehayah, as I will explain:

The first Vav and He of Vehayah stand for the Hasadim and Gevurot of Daat. the transference of the Gevurot happens first.

Then the essential light of Daat comes to unify the Hasadim and the gevurot, thereby unifying Transcendence and Immanence. This light originates in Chochma and Bina, so it is symbolized by the letters Yod and He, which here come second. It is interesting that when you write Sh-D-Y on top of Vehaya, the D-Y is on top of the Vav He and the Shin is on top of the Yod He.This is exactly as it should be. The shin stands for the essential light of Daat, apart from its Hasadim and Gevurot, while the D-Y stand for the Gevurot.

Now when you write the name Sh-D-Y you write the letters in order (this puts the essential light before the Hasadim and Gevurot) because in terms of Hashem's intention the unification is the goal, and it arises first in thought, while the Hasadim and Gevurot are the means to the unification and come second! When you write the name Sh-D-Y you are showing that Hashem's original intention is fulfilled.

In light of this you can clearly understand the Zohar you quoted which says that the entire contents of the mezuzah are expressed in the letters SH-D-Y, and that that name alone would not be as effective without its "Crowns, Adornments, and Soldiers" Once the unification is done, even the side of Immanence fully contains the side of Transcendence and vice versa, so it is true that in writing Sh-D-Y on the reverse side of the parchment you have actually moved the entire text to the reverse side. When the side of Transcendence shines thru the side of Immanence, then the world is changed and powers which oppose Holiness are "driven away" so to speak (the language of the Zohar is always very dynamic and alive in that way...)

The Reception and expansion of the Gevurot throughout the aspect of Immanence is at the core of the idea of reciting "Lamnatzeah" in the form of a Menorah as well, but I have to leave this for another time!

Hope you are able to make some use of this.

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Have a great winter and much sucess!

YK said...

Rabbi Glick

Thank you very much for your input.