- Question: [Tuesday, 11th Adar, 5781]
Hi Rabbi, I have the following question: Must the mezuzah actually touch the doorpost? When putting on a mezuzah to the doorpost is there a problem if there is some space between the doorpost and the mezuzah? Meaning, for example, if I tape the mezuzah to the doorpost and it is not very tight so there is a little bit of space between the mezuzah and the doorpost, is this a problem? Also, sometimes even when you use nails to nail in the mezuzah to the doorpost the nail does not go it all away and leaves some space between the mezuzah and the doorpost. Is this an issue? The mezuzah is fully secure but simply contains a slight spacing between.
From the letter of the law, this is not a problem, as so long as the mezuzah is secure to the doorpost and will not fall off easily and cannot be removed easily then it is considered secure and the mitzvah is fulfilled. [In your former tape example, however, the fact that it is not tight may compromise on this condition and thus you should check to make sure that it is secure and will not fall off easily from the doorpost, in which case it is valid even if you see some space in between.]
Nonetheless, being that there are Poskim who question the validity of the mitzvah being fulfilled if there is space between the mezuzah and the doorpost, therefore it is best for everyone to be Mihader in such an important biblical mitzvah of mezuzah and initially establish the mezuzah in a way that it is literally resting on the doorpost without any space or air in between. This can be accomplished in any of the following ways:
- Glue the back of the mezuzah case to the doorpost in addition to whatever other method of fastening that you are using [if the other method being used leaves a space], and the glue will serve to take up any space in between.
- Place double-sided tape on the back of the mezuzah case so that it literally rests on the doorpost.
- Use nails that can be banged in a way that will allow the mezuzah to literally sit on the doorpost.
- As part of the above Hiddur, do not use those glass cases that are made in a way that their glass case protrudes outwards from the base of the case, which is attached to the doorpost, hence causing that the glass tube holding the mezuzah does not rest on the doorpost. If you nonetheless desire to use such a case, you can glue a piece of wood in the area of the space between the doorpost and the glass tube that is protruding, in a way that there is no space between this wood and glass tube.
Important note: All the above obviously only refers the mezuzah while it’s in its case, and that there is a Hiddur for the case with the mezuzah to initially be actually touching the doorpost. However, there is no requirement for the actual mezuzah parchment to touch the doorpost, as the case is considered nullified to the mezuzah parchment and everything is considered like one unit, and hence when the case is attached this method it is considered that the actual mezuzah is literally touching the doorpost.
Explanation: It is a clear ruling in Shulchan Aruch that the mezuzah is to be placed into a tube and then attached to the doorpost, thus negating any idea that the mitzvah requires the actual parchment to touch the doorpost. Now, although we find attributed to the Gr”a that he was stringent in this matter to require that there be no interval between the parchment and doorpost, practically, many deny that he ever said such a statement, and even if he did, he is a lone opinion and we do not rule this way as is a long standing tradition of world Jewry to use mezuzah cases. Furthermore, his own opinion can be understood to not actually negating the use of mezuzah cases but rather simply against wrapping the parchment in anything. Whatever the case, as stated, we do not suspect for his opinion, not even initially. Now, let’s discuss the question of air or space in between: It is invalid for the mezuzah to be hanging on the doorpost and it must be actually attached to it. However, this does not necessarily negate having space in between so long as it is attached to the doorpost and will not fall off. This can be understood from the fact that a mezuzah case is valid, as stated above, hence proving that so long as it is attached to the doorpost it is valid even if the actual parchment is not touching the doorpost and the concept of a Chatzitza does not apply, and hence should also not apply if there is space in-between. Furthermore, we do not find anywhere in the Shulchan Aruch or its commentaries mention made of such a requirement or even matter of scrupulousness that there should not be any space in between, hence implying that it is a non-issue. Furthermore, even regarding the mitzvah of tefillin where a Chatzitza is a problem, we rule that air is not considered a Chatzitza and that the tefillin is valid even if it hovers over the skin of the head in its majority. Hence, after all the above information, we can conclude that having space between a secured mezuzah and its doorpost is not an issue and one fulfills the mitzvah. Nonetheless, there are some Poskim who question the above and state that perhaps air is considered an interval between the mezuzah and the doorpost, and it is worse than the interval of the mezuzah case between the parchment and the doorpost being that the mezuzah case is completely nullified to the actual mezuzah and considered like one unit, as opposed to the space which is not, and hence makes it considered as if the mezuzah is hanging. They therefore conclude that it is proper to be stringent by a biblical mitzvah to make sure that there is no space between. Thus, we too concluded above that while this is not a requirement it is a good thing for everyone to do and fulfill the mitzvah without any question whatsoever.
Sources: See regarding using a Mezuzah case: Michaber Y.D. 289:1; Bava Metzia 102a; Pischeiy Mezuzos [Chazan] 289:1; Biurim “Yanichenu”; See regarding the opinion of Gr”a: Pischeiy Teshuvah Y.D. 289 in name of Gr”a; Maaseh Rav of Gr”a; Mikdash Me’at 289:1; Shevet Halevi 10:222 in Teshuvah of his son Bentziyon; Moadim Uzmanim 6:51; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:651; The following all negate the Gr”a’s opinion: Maharam Shick 288; Maharsham 4:10; Shaar Efraim 1:4-1; Divrei Malkiel 1:65; Aruch Hashulchan 289 by end that the statement is inaccurate and the Gr”a never said it; Parsha Sedurah 56 that the Chazon Ish told him that he does not believe the Gr”a made such a statement. See Pischeiy Mezuzos [Chazan] ibid; See regarding if there is space between the Mezuzah and doorpost that is not a problem: Pischeiy Shearim 289:89 in name of Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky; Koveitz Mibeis Levi Tishreiy 5753 [however see Shevet Halevi 10]; The Poskim who question its validity of space inbetween: Mikdash Me’at 289:1; Minchas Yitzchak 10:95 based on Maharsham 4:10 and Maharshak in Tuv Taam Vadaas Kama 245 that it must rest on the actual doorpost and therefore one should suspect for this opinion even though we may not actually rule this way. Shevet Halevi 10:222 in Teshuvah of his son Bentziyon based on Tosafus Sotah 37a; See regarding if there is space between the Tefillin and head: Ashel Avraham Butchach 27; Igros Kodesh 11:25, printed in Shulchan Menachem 1:29; Piskeiy Teshuvos 27:8; Os Chaim Veshalom 27:5; Tehila Ledavid 27:2