First posted on The Times of Israel at: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/tetzave-useless-superstition/
Baal Haturim Exodus: Tetzave
Superstition is only the fear of belief, while religion is the confidence. -Marguerite Blessington
There is a common belief in Judaism that the religious article known as a Mezuza, a scroll of parchment with two paragraphs of the Torah written on it, placed on ones doorpost, affords some type of divine protection. A superstitious corollary to that belief is that if something wrong or unfortunate occurs in the home or the family, there may be something faulty with the Mezuza. Indeed, there are startling stories of people who have checked their Mezuza and found an eerie relationship between the fault in the text of their Mezuza and the event that prompted its checking. Going down this road leads to the conclusion that correcting the text of the Mezuza will correct one’s life.
I am often approached by people with various mishaps in their lives who ask me to check their Mezuzas. It somehow eludes them that perhaps their leading a life separated from God, separated from morality, separated from the laws and traditions of the Jewish people, may be the more direct cause of divine retribution than any parchment’s error.
The Baal Haturim on Exodus 28:32 states that the High Priest had a special garment that somehow did afford protection for punishment for the severe sin of gossiping. But he elaborates that the protection only worked after the offender would stop his gossiping ways and repent. Then and only then would the metaphysical properties of the garment provide protection from punishment.
The cause of our mishaps are usually internal. We don’t need to look to Mezuzas, red strings or other mystical solutions to fix the problems inside.
To the venerated Chofetz Chaim who made some news this week with the discovery of an old film from 1923 showing him for a few seconds (0:57 to be precise).