Two Anchors, One Mezuzah
For over two millennia the two anchors of Jewish life have been the synagogue and the home. Each is described as a miniature of The Temple that stood in Jerusalem.
Our ancient Sages teach that when the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 C.E., its stones were flung to the four corners of the earth and that wherever one of those precious stones landed, there a synagogue would be built.
Our ancient Sages teach that when the Temple was destroyed and sacrifices could no longer be offered, every Jewish home was to become a mikdash m’at, a small sanctuary where the dining table became the altar. When blessings are offered, when bread is broken, and relationships are sanctified at the table, the home becomes a sanctuary, dedicated to holy pursuits. That moment when you gather around the Chanukiah to sing the blessings and light the candles – that meaningful moment of bringing sacred ritual into your home – that’s when you know you dwell in a mikdash m’at, a small sanctuary.
Because the Jewish home is not as strong as it once was, the synagogue needs to be even stronger. The synagogue must provide the tools and the inspiration for the Jewish home. This is also part of our mission.
To Affix the Mezuzah
The Hebrew word bayit means a ‘house’ or ‘home.’ The Hebrew word HaBayit is a reference to The Temple of Jerusalem, which was prophesied to become “a house for all peoples.” This Sunday, like the Maccabees before us, we will rejoice in rededicating OUR Temple with its new and renewed spaces. Soon we will inhabit the plan; we will make the dream a real home for us all to enjoy.
The simple ceremony of affixing a mezuzah and dedicating a new house built on Jewish values is called a “Chanukat HaBayit,” “The Dedication of the House.” This Sunday, on Erev Chanukah, we will affix a mezuzah and open our doors for all to enter. We will rededicate ourselves to build and to be built by the values which have guided and shaped Holy Blossom history for 162 years. We will light the first Chanukah candle and we will sing Shehechiyanu with full hearts for having reached this historic milestone.
The blessing we say when setting a mezuzah on a doorpost ends with the phrase, likboah mezuzah, which means, “to affix a mezuzah.” The verb is rooted in the word, keva, meaning a fixed practice, a sacred routine for the sake of constructing a life of meaning. By attaching the mezuzah we actually attach ourselves – through the relationships and the commitments, which will follow. I believe our renewed campus will enable greater keva among us. We will attach ourselves to this place for greater learning, for uplifting prayer, for the fulfillment of mitzvot, which multiply kindness and fortify justice. Some Jews habitually reach out to touch the mezuzah as they come and go through a doorway. How will we reach for our Jewish future? How will we stretch our Jewish practice? How will we attach ourselves to this place and all that it stands for?
It is taught that the three-lettered name for God, Shaddai, is inscribed on the mezuzah parchment in order to stand for Shomer D’latot Yisrael, Guardian of the Doorways of Israel. We walk in God’s ways when we protect the comings and goings of our people. We emulate The Holy One when we keep watch over the Jewish identity of our youth. We show ourselves to be created in the image of God when we guard our own House, Toronto’s first synagogue.
This Sunday’s Housewarming Celebration will usher in a new stage of life for our congregation. I can’t wait to discover it with you. Chag Urim Sameach! May this Chanukah cast its radiant light on us all.