Shabbat Parashat Tsav| 5766
From the works of Hagaon Harav Shaul Yisraeli zt”l - A Notation on a Mezuzah That It Has Been Checked - Part III - Based on Amud Hay’mini, pp.358-363
[We have seen that extra writing on the inside of a mezuzah scroll can ruin its status as an article of mitzva if it changes the way the text is read, but that if the writing is separate from the mezuza’s text, there is only an issue of disqualifying the performance of the mitzva. In the latter case, the context of the additional writing helps determine whether or not there is a disqualification. We now can conclude our treatment of the case where a sofer writes a notation that he has checked the mezuzah on the same side of the parchment as the mezuzah’s text.]
The Rambam (Mezuzah 5:3) says that one who adds even one letter to the inside of the mezuzah renders it invalid. This is based on the gemara in Menachot 32b that a mezuzah written “like a letter” is invalid and is referring to a case where the letter is added close to the text, so that it affects its reading. In the next halacha, where the Rambam says that one who adds the names of angels to the inside of the mezuzah nullifies the mitzva,it is talking about things written at a distance from the text. In that case, it affects the viability of the mitzva less directly, based on the intention to add on to the mitzva, which the Torah does not permit. The Rambam was so opposed to the misuse of the mezuzah that he said that those who add in the names of angels are among those who do not have a portion in the world to come. The Rosh seems to have a lesser objection and suffices to say that one “should not add on anything whatsoever.” The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 288:15) seems to take the Rambam’s approach as he says that “it is forbidden to add on.” However, he does not state unequivocally that such a mezuzah is invalid, either because it follows from the fact that it is forbidden to add on or in order not to take a clear stand against the Rosh.
The Gra, in his notes on the Shulchan Aruch, says that the Shulchan Aruch’s source is the gemara in Menachot 32b. This seems to be against that which we have demonstrated, that one must distinguish between changes to the text and additions to the parchment. It is likely, however, that the Gra meant the following. Once we determine that it is forbidden to add anything to the side of the scroll containing the text, if one does so, the pasuk cited in Menachot renders the mezuzah inherently invalid. However, if the addition was done accidentally, in a way that does not violate the prohibition of adding on to a mitzva, then the mezuzah is not invalidated either.
Why then does the gemara not view a rabbi who makes a ruling to add on to a mezuzah’s text a zaken mamreh (a rabbi who rebels against authorities by contradicting a ruling of Sanhedrin)? It stands to reason that one who writes the improper mezuzah scroll does not violate a prohibition. Rather it is the one who affixes the improper mezuzah who performs the mitzva improperly. In order to be a zaken mamreh, we need a situation whereby the one who adds on to the mitzva disqualifies it. But in this case, even after the scribe added on, if someone else were to affix it without the wrong intent there is no disqualification.
If we go back to our original issue, we can summarize the following. When the scribe wrote his notation that the mezuzah is kosher, he did not intend that those letters should become part and parcel of the mezuzah. Rather he just intended to attach to the mezuzah testimony of its accuracy. This is similar to one who holds something along with his lulav and etrog to make them look more attractive, and not as part of the mitzva itself. In that case, and in our case, there is no significant addition to the mitzva, and the mezuzah is kosher and fit for use without any further steps to be taken.
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