Mezuzah – In Memoriam of Mr. David M. Warren (Menachem Dovid ben Harav Yosef Z’L)
Every Torah commandment has an underlying reason whether or not we know or understand the reason. For example, the Sefer HaChinuch (423; Rabbi Aron Halevi, Barcelona; 1235-1289) explains the Torah commands us to place a Mezuzah on our doorposts to reinforce a person’s faith in G-d every time he enters and exits his household; the contents written within the Mezuzah strengthens the individual.
However, there are many ways to reinforce a person’s faith. Could we then substitute the Mezuzah for something else? Something arguably better? And could we apply that reasoning to all the Torah commandments? Logically, if we can achieve the Torah’s purpose more effectively by substituting a Torah commandment with something else, why not switch?
This was Korach’s argument.
Korach gathered 250 “men of renown” and challenged Moses debating, for example, if a room has a Torah scroll, would it still require a Mezuzah? Moses answered, “It is an obligation.” Korach argued it was illogical to require a Mezuzah, which only has two sections, when you already have a Torah that has 275 sections. Since Moses’ position was subjective, Korach declared, “Mezuzah was never commanded, it was fabricated from your heart.” (See Midrash Tankhuma, Korach 2; Compilation of Jewish Homiletic; 400 CE – 600 CE)
Moses wasn’t able to defeat Korach through debate so he asked G-d to intervene. “From this you shall know that G-d has sent me . . . it is not from my heart.” Deuteronomy (16:28) Korach and his followers were swallowed by the earth.
Yet, Korach’s followers continue to thrive. We still hear arguments that Torah commandments are outdated, illogical, or can be replaced with something better. From eating Kosher to putting on Tefillin, every ritual could be subsidized with an alternative or could be rendered useless with the reasoning of Man. However, all these arguments are founded upon the single premise that the Torah was written by Man, not by G-d.
Therein lays the difference between us and Korach’s followers. We don’t follow the Torah’s commandments because we agree with them. We follow the Torah’s commandments because they are G-d’s commandments. And what can be more rewarding than adhering to G-d’s commandments or more punishing than rejecting His commandments?
The Sefer HaChinuch is correct in saying the rationale behind the Mezuzah is to reinforce a person’s faith in G-d every time he enters and exits his household. But that’s not why we do it. We place a Mezuzah on our doorpost because G-d commanded us to do so.