What is the mezuzah? Many people think the mezuzah is the wooden box you hang on your door. But it is not the box. The box is the mezuzah cover. The mezuzah is the paper inside the box. You put the mezuzah inside the mezuzah cover and hang it on your door.
Why do you do that? The mezuzah is not a good luck charm. It doesn't keep out evil spirits or scare away the hee-bee jee-bees. It is there to remind you of something.
Here is how it works: pretend that you have to study for a test. Your teacher tells you about it in school. You write it down. You want to study. But you are going to forget. So you tie a string around your finger to remind yourself to study.
When you get home from school you get busy. You run around the house. You run around outside. You talk to your friends. You eat cookies. And you forget about the test. But then you look at your finger – it is inevitable that you will look at your finger – and you remember, “Ah! I have to study for the test.”
The mezuzah is just like the string. It is there to remind you of something.
What is it there to remind you of?
The mezuzah is supposed to remind you of the most important rule in all of Judaism: life is incredible. Life is fantastic. Life is amazing. Life is wonderful. It is great to be alive.
I bet you are thinking, “Why do I need something to remind me of that? I know that life is great.”
True. You do.
But sometimes you forget. You get distracted and busy. Or worse, you get angry. You kick the walls, yell, throw spaghetti at the ceiling, jump up and down, turn blue, run around the house hollering, knock over the garbage cans, and roll around on the floor angry, mad, frustrated, annoyed, and despondent. And when that happens you forget how great it is to be alive.
But then you walk into another room and DING! There is the Mezuzah. And you remember, “I have to be happy. Life is great. It is so wonderful to be alive.”
The mezuzah is a mnemonic. (Wow! What a crazy word!) A mnemonic is a symbol. It reminds you of something else. That is what the mezuzah does too, it reminds you to be happy.
And that is the secret. Life is wonderful. It is great to be alive. But it is hard to remember when you are busy or angry or distracted or mad. And so the mezuzah is a reminder. It reminds you when you walk in and out of rooms and buildings. And you remember – even if it is just for a second – that life is great.
Enjoy life. Don’t forget.