Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rabbi explains ancient custom at opening of Chabad Jewish Center of West Pasco

Rabbi Yossi Eber and his wife, Dina, with Chabad Jewish Center of West Pasco hosted their official grand opening and mezuza affixing ceremony this week.

A mezuza is a small, sacred parchment inscribed by hand with two Hebrew prayers. The tradition of hanging a mezuza (Hebrew for "doorpost") has its roots in the Bible. The last plague visited upon the Egyptians was the death of the firstborn; God told the Jews to sprinkle the blood of a sacrificial lamb on their doorposts so the angel of death would pass over their homes.

About 60 people attended the ceremony Tuesday as Eber affixed the mezuza to Chabad Jewish Center of West Pasco, at 9945 Trinity Blvd., Suite 5.

As a free service, Eber visits people's homes and offices in Trinity, Holiday, New Port Richey and surrounding areas to help them properly affix their mezuzas. There should be one on the front door, as well as any other doorways in the home or office, he said.

On another level, the mezuza provides protection and good spiritual energy and keeps the bad energy out, Eber said.

Every time you go out or come in, it's customary to touch the mezuza and kiss your hand. On the outside of the case are the Hebrew letters Shin, Dalet, Yud, an acronym meaning "The Guardian of the doors of Israel."

There is some misconception about mezuzas, even among Jewish people. The case can't be empty or contain a photo copy of the prayers, which is how most local synagogue gift shops and Web sites sell them. An original piece of mezuza parchment can cost between $30 and $150 or more.

"The important part is not the case, it's the original piece of parchment written by a scribe," Eber said.

Otherwise, "it's like a body without a soul."

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