The Law requires checking the mezuzoth twice within seven years. On the surface the reason for this seems obvious: the mezuzah may contain a mistake which may not be apparent in the initial inspection but may turn up in a later check-up; as the elements exert their influence upon the parchment it deteriorates with time, the ink fades, the letters crumble, etc. Any one of these reasons may render a mezuzah pasul(invalid).

In Judaism, however, there are always deeper reasons as well. A mezuzah is not viewed as a static object separate from its owner. There exists a little-known tradition in Kabbalah that there is an intimate connection between a mezuzah and its owner. The mezuzah mirrors the soul of its owner.

Rabbi David Hollander likens a mezuzah to a Jewish credit card.Just as a credit card will get you into any hotel, once you see a mezuzah on the door of a house, you know that you can knock on that door and you will be let in and treated as a precious guest the sacred law of Jewish hospitality. While such a comparison appears to be literary hyperbole, it actually holds true at a deeper level. Indeed, just as a credit card reflects the balance of the financial account of its possessor, so too does the mezuzah reflect the balance of the spiritual account of its owner.

When the Jews dance with the Torah scrolls during the holiday of Simchath Torahthey go in a circle hakafah. The word hakafahhas an additional meaning credit. Thus it is said that the Jews receive immense spiritual wealth “on credit” from Gd during these circular processions. One of the “credit cards” used to draw from this spiritual credit account during the year is the mezuzah. Some times, when the cardholder falls too much in arrears, the card becomes temporary blocked, or even permanently invalid. So too is the case with the mezuzah, which may become corrupted by its owners spiritual indebtedness or imbalance. As long as one is alive, he or she is always in a state of dynamic disequilibrium. This fact is reflected in the famous Chasidic dictum: one may rise or fall but never stands still. Mezuzah, being intimately attached to the souls of those whom it protects, reflects this spiritual dynamic in its letters and the parchment itself.

Soul - Possessions

According to Jewish tradition, there is a strong, dynamic connection between a person and his surrounding material world. As the Midrash puts it,

“When the Holy One created the first man, He took him ... and said to him: Behold, My works, how beautiful, how splendid they are. All that I have created, I created for your sake. Take care that you do not become corrupt and thus destroy my world.”

This is particularly true of ones personal possessions. These possessions are said to be predestined to us. One of the main doctrines of Lurianic Kabbalah, Shvirath ha-Keilim (lit. “breaking of the vessels”), teaches that the cosmic mission of man is to extract the Gdly sparks from the physical world to which they have fallen from the higher spiritual Universe of Tohu(Chaos), as a result of the breaking of the vessels in that Universe. By doing so, man “repairs” those vessels and accomplishes the universal tikunthe correction of this world, which is called by the name “Realm of Tikun.”

This extraction and elevation of the sparks of holiness is accomplished through the use the material objects for good and holy purposes. Thus, using a skin of an animal to write on it a Torah Scroll, a mezuzah or the parchments of tefillinelevates this animal and restores the Gdly sparks contained therein to their Source. Using money for charity to help others accomplishes the same result, as does eating an apple with proper intention and blessings recited before and after.

According to the Kabbalah, every soul has a mystical connection to the objects with which it is destined to come in touch. In a similar vein, the Chazal states that it is predestined for a man to live in a particular place and in a particular house. An act of theft, therefore, is viewed not merely as an unfair and unjust act of wrongful possession, but as a terrible act with profound mystical ramifications. When one man steals an apple from another it is a relatively insignificant act in our eyes. In fact, however, this upsets the Gdly plan, creating profound disharmony in the Universe. Only the lawful owner, to whose soul the Gdly spark within the apple is related, is able to extract and elevate this spark. Falling into the wrong hands, the unfortunate spark descends even further into the abyss of unholiness.

If a person has such strong spiritual connection to any object he owns, how much more so it is true of the mezuzah and tefillinhis holiest possessions. This relationship is bi-directional. We influence our tefillinand mezuzoth and they influence us. A spiritual defect or imbalance in ones soul can cause a defect in his or her house or clothing, whereas proper treatment of such a defect in a house or clothing can cure the soul and prevent the “disease” from spreading in the human body.

The tefillinand mezuzoth, mans most precious and holy possessions, can be afflicted by disturbances in the soul of their owner. A careful inspection of these objects and proper correction of any defects, if found, can heal the soul, restoring balance and prevents any further affliction to the person.


We see an extreme example of such influence in the laws of Tzaraath, a skin disease, erroneously translated as leprosy, which afflicted people in biblical times for the sin of lashon haraevil gossip. A peculiar aspect of this disease was that it struck not only people but also their possessions, such as house and clothing.Furthermore, Maimonides statesthat this “leprosy” first affected the house. If the person corrected his way, the house would be “healed” and the disease would not spread any further. If not, however, the clothing would get “infected.” If the person repented the sins now affecting his clothing, he would stop the Tzaraathfrom spreading to his or her own skin.

Mezuzah & Tefillin - Soul

There is, in fact, an important commonality between the two “infections” which precede the body. Both house and clothing share the same quality of encompassing and protecting the human body. Clothing tightly envelops the body itself in its immediate proximity while a house encompasses the body at a distance, like a loose and greatly oversized garment (actually, the skin also “envelops” and protects the body being at the same time an integral part of it). A parallel relationship exists between tefillinand mezuzah: the tefillinare tightly bound to the body (the arm and the head) while the mezuzah is affixed to the doorposts of the house.1

The two pairs of objects under discussion (clothing and house on one hand and tefillinand mezuzah on the other) all pertain to the general concept of Or Makif, the Encompassing light.) At this point we must expand on this concept and note that the surrounding light is further subdivided into two categories: a Close Makifand a Distant Makif. Both levels denote transcendent emanation of the infinite light, which is beyond the grasp of the recipient. The Close Makifhas some direct influence on the recipient while the Distant Makifis totally removed and aloof to the extent that the recipient cannot sense its presence, and may not even be aware of its existence.

In the system of Sefiroth these two categories of Encompassing Light correspond to two aspects of the Sefirah Kether: the Close Makif corresponds to the external aspect of Kether called Arikh Anpin (The Extended Countenance, Macroprosopus) and the Distant Makif corresponds to the inner aspect of Kethercalled Atik Yomin (The Ancient of Days).

On the level of soul, these two categories of Encompassing Light represent two transcendent levels of soul: Chayahand Yechidah. Chayah, the “Living Soul”, is a transcendent level of soul, which does not enter the body, surrounding it like an aura or halo. It is, however, still “close”, as it were, to the body. Yechidah, on the other hand, is utterly transcendent and is always united with the Source, being “far” from the body. Needless to say, the terms “close” and “distant” (or “far”) in this context are not spatial in meaning whatsoever.

Thus, clothing and tefillin in our analogy both represent Close Makif and relate to Chayah, the Living Soul, while house and mezuzah represent Distant Makifand relate to Yechidah, the Unique Soul. We have already mentioned a few times that mezuzah on the level of soul is connected to Yechidah. Further, we have noted before that the three words in the first verse of Shema, with all your heart(levavkha), with all your soul(nafshekha) and with all your might(meodekha) correspond to the three commandments given therein: hand tefillin, head tefillinand mezuzah respectively. Here, however, we may offer a different translation of the word meodekha, which comes from the root meod, “very much” (which also alludes to a superior quality of the mezuzah vis-a-visother commandments): You shall love your Gd with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your transcendent faculties. These transcendent facultiesrefer to the transcendent soul Yechidah, which in turn corresponds to the mezuzah (whose gematria, 65, equals that of meodekha).

This relationship between the transcendent levels of soul Chayahand Yechidahon one hand and tefillinand mezuzah on the other is a dynamic one where the state of ones soul affects ones tefillin and mezuzoth and vice versa.

In this light, the process of periodic inspection of ones tefillinand mezuzoth takes on new meaning. In quantum physics, two subatomic particles bound in one quantum-mechanical state remain forever connected2, and can affect one another no matter how far apart they are. So too, the tefillin and mezuzoth are forever bound with the soul of their owner and affect and are affected by its condition even at a distance. Thus the mezuzoth protect the members of a household when they are outside, even far from home, and tefillinprotect their owner even when not worn. Conversely, ones misdeeds may corrupt ones tefillin and mezuzoth, while inspecting and fixing them may restore his soul.