Site 911 and the Protective Power of Mezuzah
By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
December 3, 2012
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to supervise construction of a five-story underground facility for an Israel Defense Forces complex, oddly named ‘Site 911,’ at an Israeli Air Force base near Tel Aviv,” Walter Pincus reported in the Washington Post a few days ago.
Apart from the extremely high-level of physical security at Site 911, it appears that the top secret facility will not want for less tangible forms of protection either. Describing the latest Corps of Engineers notice regarding the mysterious construction project, Pincus writes:
The Corps offered a lengthy description of the mezuzas the contractor is to provide “for each door or opening exclusive of toilets or shower rooms” in the Site 911 building. A mezuza (also spelled mezuzah) is a parchment which has been inscribed with Hebrew verses from the Torah, placed in a case and attached to a door frame of a Jewish family’s house as a sign of faith. Some interpret Jewish law as requiring — as in this case — that a mezuza be attached to every door in a house.
These mezuzas, notes the Corps, “shall be written in inerasable ink, on . . . uncoated leather parchment” and be handwritten by a scribe “holding a written authorization according to Jewish law.” The writing may be “Ashkenazik or Sepharadik” but “not a mixture” and “must be uniform.”
Also, “The Mezuzahs shall be proof-read by a computer at an authorized institution for Mezuzah inspection, as well as manually proof-read for the form of the letters by a proof-reader authorized by the Chief Rabbinate.” The mezuza shall be supplied with an aluminum housing with holes so it can be connected to the door frame or opening. Finally, “All Mezuzahs for the facility shall be affixed by the Base’s Rabbi or his appointed representative and not by the contractor staff.”
In an article on Chabad.org entitled “The Protective Power of Mezuzah,” Alexander Poltorak, who holds a PhD in theoretical physics and lectures on the intersection of science and Torah, explains:
The word “mezuzah” appears for the first time in the Bible in the account of the Exodus from Egypt. Before the last plague smiting the Egyptian firstborn, the Almighty forewarned the Jewish people to mark their doorposts with the blood of the sacrificial lamb so that the forces of destruction would pass over their houses. The Torah says:
And they shall take of the blood and they shall put it on the two mezuzoth (doorposts) and on the lintel… For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians, and when He seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door, and He will not allow the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite [you]. (Exodus 12:7, 23)
This is why the Holiday of the Exodus is called Passover. The Mechilta 1 (as well as the Zohar) states that these verses are the source of the concept of mezuzah:
Now consider: The blood of the Passover sacrifice was but of little weight, for it was required but once, not for all generations, and by night only, not by day; yet He would ‘not allow the destroyer… to strike you.’ How much more will He not permit the destroyer into the house which bears a mezuzah, which is of greater weight, seeing that the Divine Name is repeated there ten times, it is there by day and night, and it is a law for all generations.
We see in this biblical account and the above commentary the direct relationship between the mitzvah of mezuzah and Divine protection. A mezuzah affixed to the doorpost as commanded by G-d at Sinai still has the power to “not allow the destroyer to come into your houses to smite you”.
Interestingly, the article suggests that there may be an esoteric connection between Site 911’s U.S. taxpayer-funded mezuzahs and its odd name. According to Poltorak,
It is easily understood that a non-kosher mezuzah does not possess any protective qualities. Therefore when, G‑d forbid, someone is sick or some other misfortune befalls, the very first thing (after calling 911) is to check the mezuzoth in the house. This has been Jewish custom from time immemorial.
In a footnote on the U.S. emergency number, he adds:
Incidentally, this number, 911, is the sum of the 713 letters, 170 words and 22 lines in the mezuzah together with 6 letters of the Hebrew word mezuzoth, when spelled Mem, Zayin, Vav, Zayin, Vav, Tav as in Deut. XI, 20.
It’s unclear, however, if Netanyahu had the protective power of mezuzah in mind when he foresaw that 9/11 was going to be “very good” for the Jewish state.