Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin, known universally as the Brisker Rav, lived in Jerusalem for the last 20 years of his life, where he devoted himself to the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing of thousands. He established Talmudic academies, soup kitchens and other charitable institutions—the most famous of which was the Diskin Orphanage of Jerusalem.

Surely prevention is better than a cure

One day, the rabbi summoned a number of reputable sofrim (scribes) to his office and deputized them to fan out through the streets of holy city, knock on local doors and offer the residents the opportunity to have their mezuzahs checked for errors or faded letters. Rabbi Diskin paid the sofrim from the funds of the orphanage.

People trusted the rav and accepted his judgement implicitly. Yet a number of those present were troubled by his seemingly cavalier attitude toward corporate money management. On the face of it, as important as it might be to ensure that people have kosher mezuzahs hanging on each door, it was hard to justify how this could be fulfilling the purpose for which those funds were donated. How could the rabbi claim to be supporting orphans with this money?

Rabbi Yehoshua Leib understood their disquiet and explained: “It’s very simple. We say every day in the Shemah, ‘And you shall inscribe them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates, in order that your days and the days of your children may increase, in the land which the L‑rd swore to your forefathers to give them.’1 Kosher mezuzahs saves lives!

“Surely prevention is better than a cure. Those generous donors who are moved toHow could the rabbi claim to be supporting orphans with this money? support orphans would surely prefer that there were fewer orphans to support. Rather than wait for tragedy, I am attempting to forestall the deaths of mothers and fathers in this city, in this land which G‑d has given us, and thus spare their innocent children from suffering in the first place.”

G‑d gives us an easy prescription for saving lives, and it is it our duty and privilege to follow His instructions to the letter.

We are approaching the month of Elul, when people traditionally have their mezuzahs and tefillin checked. Call your rabbi or arrange for them to be checked directly with the sofer. It could save a life!