Thursday, May 03, 2007

Daf Yomi - Chagigah 24 - TOUCHING THE MEZUZAH

The Gemora (Shabbos 14a) states that people would place food of Terumah next to Torah scrolls. The reason they did this is they claimed that both the Terumah and the Sifrei Torah are Kodesh, so they should be kept together. The Chachamim realized that the Sifrei Torah were becoming damaged because mice would eat the food and then chew on the scrolls. They sought to put a halt to the practice of placing Terumah next to Sifrei Torah, so they enacted a decree that scrolls are considered tamei and render Terumah unfit.

To ensure that people would not touch a Sefer Torah with bare hands, the Chachamim decreed that one who touches a sefer with bare hands; his hands are rendered tamei and will render Terumah pasul.

There is a debate in the Rishonim if the decree only applies to one who touches Sifrei Torah, or to one who touches any sefer. Tosfos in Shabbos (ibid) maintains that this decree applies to all holy writings. Tosfos (Chagigah 24b) disagrees and holds that it is restricted to a Sefer Torah. The Rama (O”C 146) rules according to the Tosfos in Shabbos.

Rabbi Akiva Eiger (Teshuvah I, 58) questions the practice of placing one’s hand on top of a mezuzah, when the mezuzah is without any covering. He comments that the concept of placing one’s hand on the mezuzah is without a Talmudic source and should not take precedence over this halacha; it would be considered a mitzvah haba’ah b’aveirah. Thus, he recommends, if the mezuzah is uncovered, one should extend his sleeve over his hand.

The Rama (O”C 285) quotes the custom of placing one’s hand on the mezuzah from the Maharil.


Anonymous said...

In case anybody misunderstood,
the Psak of Tosfos and Rem"a
(and other Ashkenazic Poskim) that other holy books render the hands Impure,
refers ONLY to Nevi'im and K'suvim written ON KLAF by a sofer
(and obviously including Miggeelos)

(and not just any Sefer which we learn from).