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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Mezuza covers that are problematic


Concerning mezuza covers with formed images of people on them (like in this picture) or with a sun or moon on them. What is is the Halacaha of these mezuza cases?
Based on Yoreh Deah 141:3 we are not to even own tzuras (either bolait or shakua)images of the sun and moon. Concerning the image of a person even the face alone is a problem (Taz 141:15). See also the Mechaber 141:4 where the girsa is "afilu Lenoi" see also the Shach ibid:21.
I think concerning childeren's mezuzas it is less of a problem even with images of different icons similar to the status of a toy, so seems the minhag bepoal, not that it is endorsed, however not necessarily certainly forbidden. However there might even be an issue with decorative images formed on childeren mezuza cases, since there is an importance of looking at the mezuza (as in the story of Onkelos the ger recorded in Tractate Avoda Zara) and it might not be proper to look at such images even if they are similar to toys (these mezuzas usually also have a Shin printed on them as well, which could be another problem)(see the Sefer Sheva Mitzvahs Hashem on the prohibition of Avodah zarah chapter 5 with the footnotes).

Would it therefore be better to avoid purchasing or selling such mezuza cases or possibly advisable to rub off the nose of a toy human fugurine on the mezuza case if one already owned it? Animal images (in general) are not a problem Mechaber 141:6, does that apply here with mezuza cases?

Can we make this rule of forbidden tzuros on mezuza cases, even if certainly none of these items were made or served as Avoda Zara, many times they were hand made by a Jew? Marei mekomos are appreciated.
If it is a problem, one would not be allowed to assist with putting the mezuza inside the case because "lifneh iver lo sitan michshol".
Concerning this mezuza posted, it was claimed to of been made in New York (possibly by Yiden, but one of my questions is would it make a difference if it was made by a yid or not? Many cases are anyways manufactured in China.

9 comments:

  1. In the same vein ,is it wrong to put it in a leather Mezuza case that one doesn't know which animal it came from?

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  2. Dovid, that is a very good question. I wonder what a posek would say? can you post a picture of one of those types of cases?

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  3. Yitzchok, since when does a Mezuzah case have to be "min ha mutar bepicha"

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  4. Elad,I didn't ask if it's Asur.I was just curious to know if it's spoken about in any Sforim.

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  5. The Sforim Do speak about if one can use a feather from a Tamei bird;although the Din is one can.

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  6. Right, and the Bnei Yonah says that if a Sofer can write nicer with a non kosher feather, that for "ze Keli veanvehu" that it would be allowed...so I think with a leather Mezuzah case that may be the case too, especially since in the case of the feather, you are actually writing with it, while here it's just an external case.

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  7. I agree with Elad that in regard to a leather case "min hatame" there should not be any hallachic stand against - although I appreciate Yitzchok's negative feeling - on a higher level there is something [although remote] to this contradiction, because the sta"m is a leather and it is covered by another leather casing made to serve it, which don't fit each other.
    But that is a chasidishe hergesh, not the law.

    But Dovid's issue is very problematic.
    First of all, thanks for bringing this interesting subject up. I never came across this type of thing, my first reaction is very negative - it is worse than the laws you quoted in YD in regard to zuros l'noi, because the mezuza is a holy object and the icons stuck to it, are more of a chashsash than the tzuros l'noi. See SA YD 141:6 in Pishei teshuva, Bircei yosef, Beis lechem yehuda [all printed on the page of SA vilna {the standard} print] that tzuros in a Beis hakneses or in a machzor/sidur are worse [and many prohibited - althogh the oilam is meikal and many synagogues have drawings of anumals etc. to beautify the place, and lions for keter tora on the poroiches], since people might connect them with the holiness of the mitzva.
    I think the same should apply here in regard to a mezuza casing - this is a very negative thing, any icon (human, animal, sun etc.) should be removed from the casing.
    This is my first reaction, bezras hashem I am going to do some research about this issue.

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  8. I didn't do enough learning on the subject, but the minimum that I did couldn't come up [yet] with any chidush.
    I must admit, the problem of tzuros lenoy doesn't apply in this case, since this is not a complete face rather a profile only which isn't forbidden.
    My trying to relate this subject to the acharonim I mentioned in the comment before, may not apply - they are talking about a place of prayer, therefore it is problematic since it may seem that people are praying/worshiping these tzuros - this l'chora doesn't fit in the mezuza case.

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  9. I brought this picture to R' Shammai Gross this morning and discussed with him the shailo. He said for sure not to use such a case and not to sell them either.

    Any tzurah of a moon, stars, sun, etc is for sure ossur. A trzurah of a person is also ossur. Over here he said he wants to be m'ayin since l'maseh it's only half a face. Aside from what it says there in Shulchan Aruch YD he gave another reason not to use this since one is going to kiss the mezuzah when they pass by it. For sure shouldn't kiss such a thing.

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