Dropping a Mezuzah

Dropping a Mezuzah

Question:

My teenage son was helping check our mezuzot when suddenly he let out a shout. He had dropped one of the scrolls on the floor! He has heard that if you drop tefillin you are supposed to fast, and he wants to know if this apply to dropping a mezuzah as well? Does it make a difference if it was wrapped in plastic wrap? My other teenage son saw the mezuzah fall and wants to know if he should fast as well. He remembered that a Sefer Torah once fell on Simchas Torah in our shul, and all of us who were present at that moment had to take on a special fast day.

Answer:

Although a mezuzah is very holy and must be treated with the greatest respect at all times, the fasting custom you mentioned only applies to Torah scrolls and tefillin.[1] The son who dropped the mezuzah is not required to fast even if the mezuzah fell without any covering at all.

It is true that it is customary for all who witness a Torah falling to take on a fast day, if they are able. But this specifically applies to Torah scrolls as it is a communal responsibility to guard them. In contrast, even if one witnessed tefillin dropping, he would have no need for any atonement.[2]

Moreover, fasting inevitably weakens the body and would interfere with your boys’ Torah learning — the greatest merit of all! On that note, as a positive outcome of this experience, it would be a good idea for them to learn through the laws of mezuzah.

It is customary to contribute something to tzedakah to atone for the unintended disgrace of Hashem’s word.[3]

[1] Agur Bohalecha 4:27; Sha’arei HaMezuzah 18:5;  Tzitz Eliezer 5:1:99. Cf. Maharsham 2:264.

[2] Piskei Teshuvos 402:13, citing Mishpetei Shmuel 12.

[3] Sha’arei HaMezuzah 18:5, citing Mishneh Halachos 5:195 and Shraga Hameir 3:12.

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