This week’s parshah contains what is most probably the most popular part of our daily prayers: the first part of the Shema Yisrael prayer, a prayer which is recited thrice daily and one which Jewish children learn at a very young age.

The Parshah of Shema begins with the belief that Hashem is the One and Only and the obligation to love Hashem. These are two of the basic tenets of our religion and something we must instill in our children as soon as they are old enough to understand. This is followed by the obligation to teach our children Torah, which also commences at an early age. The parshah continues with a discussion of the mitzvah of tefillin, which applies at the age of thirteen. Finally, there is a discussion of the mezuzah, which I believe we could say applies to the next stage in one’s development, the marriage phase. The object of marriage is the undertaking by the Chatan and Kallah to build a home, and the first mitzvah connected with the home is the placing of mezuzot on the doorposts.

Let me briefly discuss with you tonight two laws concerning the mezuzah and their implications.

The first law is that the mezuzah is affixed to the doorpost in a slanted position. Why?

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Dei’ah 289:6) explains that the slant is to compromise between the codifiers who hold it should be affixed horizontally and those who say it should be affixed vertically.

I would venture to add that the affixing of the mezuzah on a slant also conveys a very important message.

Inevitably there may be conflicts, differences of opinion and disagreements among you. After all, you are mature individuals who grew up with your own way of doing things and your own perception and understanding.

For a home to have the proper atmosphere, shalom bayit — harmony and peace — must prevail among all those who dwell in it, and this is achieved by promoting a spirit of cooperation and compromise. Putting themezuzah on an angle instead of upright is thus a message that all those who enter the home must be willing to bend.

This, my dear Chatan and Kallah, is something that you must realize and resolve at the beginning of your married life, and you must follow in this pattern all your years.

It is imperative that you program yourselves to think that the home is not “my home,” but rather “our home.” It is not the place where “I live,” but rather where “we live.” The decisions are not made by “me,” but rather by “us.” And in order to live in the home and experience a happy married life, both must resolve not to be inflexible, stubborn and unyielding, but rather to be understanding, pliable and cooperative.

The second law that I chose to discuss is that the letter shin (ש) is written on the exterior of a mezuzah. What is its significance?

The “shin” on the exterior of every mezuzah represents Hashem’s three letter name of ".ש-ד-י" This is one of His holy Names. Each Name represents a different way in which He reveals Himself. This particular Name denotes Hashem as the One Who sets limits on Creation by establishing laws of nature, the limitations within which the universe functions. Also, it represents Hashem’s establishment of limits to the success one enjoys and the suffering he must endure.

This Name is written on the mezuzah because it is also an abbreviation for “Shomer daltei Yisrael” (שומר דלתי ישראל) — “The Protector of the Jewish [doors] homes.” The mezuzah protects the home and its inhabitants not only when they are at home, but even when they are away. (See Yoreh Dei’ah 285:2, Zohar, Vayikra 363b.)

My dear Chatan and Kallah, I would like to add that not only does the mezuzah protect from physical harm, G‑d forbid, but if you heed the message of the slanting of the mezuzah, your marriage will be protected and blessed with happiness and longevity.