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The Defective Mezuzah
Once, the Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov was visiting the home of a member of the Holy Community of Nemirov. While going from one room to another room, the Baal Shem Tov “inadvertently” opened the door to the cellar. He reached out to kiss the Mezuzah affixed to the cellar doorway. (It is an age old Jewish custom to touch a Mezuzah with your finger tips and then kiss them.) But before he actually touched the Mezuzah, he suddenly stopped.

Rabbi Israel looked over to his host and said, “This Mezuzah should be checked.” [Mezuzahs need to be checked every few years because the inked letters can break or peel off, or even touch each other due to shrinkage of the klaf (animal skin) on which it is written. Even a slight imperfection in the letters renders the Mezuzah defective and non-kosher.]

The host replied, “Rabbi, just because you opened the wrong door, doesn't mean that you need to justify your mistake by questioning the kashrut of my mezuzah. Maybe you just accidentally opened the door to the cellar?”

The Baal Shem Tov answered, “As far as I'm concerned, there is no such thing as an accident. In reality, everything, without exception, is directed by Divine guidance and is not a matter of chance.”

And so it was.

Freely adapted by Tzvi Meir HaCohane (Howard M. Cohn, Patent Attorney) from a story found in Shivchei HaBesht and translated in Praise of the Baal Shem Tov by Ben Amos and Mintz.
© Baal Shem Tov Foundation 2003-2005

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