With All Your Heart and With All Your Soul
In 2006, my family and I were getting into Yiddishkeit. At that time we were living in a building that felt spooky to us, partly because we were aware that a former resident had been performing strange pagan rituals in her apartment.
One day, the muscles around the area of my heart seemed to be getting tight. It didn't occur to me that I should go to the emergency room, but I was increasingly uncomfortable breathing and couldn't rest because of the constriction in my chest. I made an appointment with a cardiologist, but couldn't get in for another week. I happened to speak with a knowledgeable friend from Crown Heights and told her what was happening. One of the first things she told me was, "The Rebbe always said to check your mezuzos!"
I informed my husband about all this, and that evening he removed the four mezuzos we had installed in our space. We had three mezuzos upstairs, in our home, and one downstairs, on the entryway. My husband placed them in marked envelopes and brought them to a sofer. When I later spoke to the sofer, he asked, "Does anyone in your house have a heart problem?"
"Rabbi," I gasped, "this is unbelievable!" I mentioned the problem I was having. "Well, I felt I should ask because I found something unusual in the mezuzah from your entryway," explained the sofer. "In the first paragraph of the Shema, where it says, "With all your heart and with all your soul, " the words bichal livavicha and uvichal nafshica, had holes in the letters."
We purchased a new mezuzah, and my husband started to install it. I was upstairs when he was affixing the mezuzah on our entryway, but at that moment, it was as if a pile of bricks was removed from my heart. I took a deep breath of relief. The next morning, when I saw the cardiologist, he told me my heart, and the muscles around the area, were absolutely fine.
I felt well in my heart and soul. The word nefesh, meaning soul or 'spirit', as in nafshica, is etymologically connected to the word nafash, rest. Thank G-d, I could rest again.
Halachic Note: It is not obligatory to place a mezuzah on a public entryway when non-Jews live in the building. However, as we see from this story, there could be spiritual benefits to doing so, if permission can be gained.
From the forthcoming book by Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin.
Last updated: Wednesday, Jul 11 2012 10:41pm