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January 28, 1995 - Image 48

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-01-28

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stands for the number 18, we present a list of
18 things that are important for creating a Jew-
ish home.
Virtually every maven of the mitzvah of
home rituals mentions the mezuzah as an ab-
solute necessity. "A mezuzah creates the
sense that this is a different space; it imbues
it with a Jewish identity," Rabbi Weiner ex-
If a couple were to do nothing else, they
should at least put one mezuzah on the out-
side doorpost of their house, counsels Rabbi
Landau. The mezuzah "creates a higher
awareness of behavior and responsibility in
the house and symbolizes the most intimate
of relationships, such as that between hus-
band and wife, parent and child."
Preferably, he adds, the couple will place a
mezuzah on every doorpost in the house, with
the exception of the bathroom, since it directs
one toward a higher level of observance ofJu-
daism in each room. In the kitchen, it reminds
one of kashrut; in the bedroom, of the laws of
family purity; and in the den, of learning. In
essence, couples can "use the mezuzah to
grow seeds of other aspects of their relation-
ship toward Judaism and their family."
Jews are commanded to write the words of
the Torah "on the doorposts of their house
and upon their gates;" and it is those words,
contained within the first two paragraphs of
Judaism's most significant prayer, the She-
ma, and inscribed on parchment by a scribe,
which are the essential element of the
mezuzah. The holder, which may be fash-
ioned from a wide variety of materials pro-
viding it protects the scroll, is merely
decorative. Often, the parchment is sold sep-
arately from the cover, and care should be
taken to purchase a kosher parchment from
a reputable source.
Mezuzot should be affixed to the top third
of the right-hand side of the doorposts, slant-
ing in toward the room, within 30 days of mov-
ing in to a permanent residence. A special
blessing is recited when it is installed:
"Blessed are you, Lord our God, Sovereign
of the Universe, who has sanctified us with
Your commandments and has instructed us
to put up a mezuzah." Many Jews kiss the
mezuzah when they pass, usually by touch-
ing it and kissing their fingertip.
Many Jews have begun new rituals that en-
rich the tradition and indicate that it is still an
evolving one. An idea for newlyweds is to
place a second mezuzah on the left-hand side
of the door to their bedroom, containing a
statement of their values and priorities as a

46 • BRII)ES 14)95 • SIVIE

In almost the same breath that they men-
tion mezuzot, mitzvah mavens say that the
ritual objects needed for the weekly celebra-
tion of Shabbat are the most important tools
for creating a Jewish home. After all, they say,
quoting the Jewish writer Achad ha-Am,
"More than the Jews have kept the Sabbath,
the Sabbath has kept the Jews."
"Shabbas defines the week for Jewish peo-
ple," explains Rabbi Groner. "It is the point
of entrance into the experience of being Jew-
ish in the home. Today, typically, our ex-
pression of Judaism is public. With Shabbas,
at home, we can discover, renew and cele-
brate Jewish spirituality personally every
"Shabbat separates Jews from the Gentile
world," notes Rabbi Landau. "We take a break

Although a menorah is used on Chanukah, it can
be displayed as a work of art.

Traditionally, Jews place money in a tzedakah
box before lighting the Shabbat candles.

from the world with Shabbat." Most impor-
tant, he says, are candlesticks, since "the mo-
ment of lighting the Sabbath candles binds
every Jew together and makes them equal."
In addition to candlesticks, Shabbat im-
plements include kiddush (wine) cup, chal-
lah plate, knife and cover, tzedakah box and
Havdalah set. Some couples choose to use
items belonging to ancestors, for the sense
of continuity that imparts, while others buy
and receive new items in keeping with their
Tradition! Tradition! in Southfield features
a bridal registry says owner Alicia Nelson, so
that Jewish brides can receive exactly what
they want and need. Couples today are proud
to show their Judaism and purchase ritual
items that fit into their contemporary lifestyle.
The concept of "hidur mitzvah," embell-
ishing the mitzvah, observing it in as beauti-
ful a way as possible in order to glorify God,
encourages people to use something special,
explains Rabbi Polish. Yet, keep in mind, the
essence of the mitzvah is the intention behind
it; it's possible to buy beautiful candlesticks
for $15 or for $500, and either is sufficient to
observe the mitzvah.
"Remembering" and "observing" the Shab-
bat are the two ways Jews are commanded in
the Torah to maintain a day of rest; hence the
tradition of lighting at least two candles every
Shabbat. Most couples begin with a pair of
candle holders; some add candles for each
member of the family.
Traditionally, the woman of the house
lights the candles— stressing the responsi-
bility of the woman within the domain of the
home, says Rabbi Landau— and recites the
blessing: "Blessed are You, Lord of the Uni-
verse, Who has commanded us to light Sab-
bath candles." However, if no woman is
available, men are obligated to light candles.
And in many families, men, women and chil-
dren light candles together.
The candles must burn for at least 30 min-
utes, and it is forbidden to extinguish them.
While candle holders may be of any materi-
al, certain glass or ceramic ones cannot with-
stand the heat of the flame as it burns to the
bottom. Now, however, some shops carry
pyrex inserts for glass candlesticks that per-
mit the candles to burn to the bottom, as is
required by Jewish law.
Many Rabbis suggest that couples use their
own candlesticks and kiddush cup under the
chuppah, which is symbolic of the home they
will create, in order to emphasize the conti-
nuity between their wedding and that home.
After the ceremony, some couples blow out

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