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If a child cannot reach the upper third of the doorway and he is the primary occupant of said room, may the mezuzah be affixed lower than the upper third?

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I thought the halacha was to have the mezuzah and the minhag was to touch it. If so, the child who can't reach it isn't violating any halacha. –  Monica Cellio Jan 26 '12 at 1:49
    
@MonicaCellio Yes, you are right. –  Double AA Jan 26 '12 at 1:50
    
I can't vouch for this site: mezuzahstore.com/blogs/mezuzah-blog/… –  Double AA Jan 26 '12 at 1:53
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I'm guessing you are hoping to allow the child to kiss the mezuzah upon entry. See here for more info regarding that custom: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/12051/759 –  Double AA Jan 26 '12 at 2:06
    
@MonicaCellio 100% correct. –  Hacham Gabriel Jan 26 '12 at 15:38
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6 Answers 6

up vote 14 down vote accepted

The Taz in YD 289 sk 3 is medayek (derives from a careful reading) that both the Rama and the Mechaber rule like the Rambam that if the mezuzah is placed below the upper third it is invalid even bediavad (after the fact). No one seems to mention any distinction based on the height of the room's occupants be they children or adults and it doesn't seem there is room to be lenient considering the adult, even without primarily living in that room, is still biblically obligated to have a mezuzah on that door.

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There is a famous story about Rabbi Yaakov Kaminetzky, told in the book, Reb Yaakov, by Yonason Rosenblum, pp.326-327.

Reb Yaakov was particularly attuned to the dangers of exposing children to any kind of falsehood. He once visited the kindergarten of his son Binyamin's yeshiva and noticed that the mezuzah had been placed lower on the doorpost than halachically prescribed, so the children could reach it upon entering the classroom. The idea of getting children used to touching the mezuzah when they come into a room was a good one, said Reb Yaakov, but the means were wholly inappropriate. "Put the mezuzah on the upper third of the doorpost where it belongs," he said, "and let them use a stool to reach it. Otherwise they will grow up thinking a mezuzah can be put anywhere you wish. One does not raise children with falsehood."

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I read from R' Mutzafi that we don't pasken Halacha based on stories. –  Hacham Gabriel Feb 1 '12 at 3:54
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LazerA, welcome to Judaism.SE, and thanks very much for bringing this excellent and relevant story to the table! I look forward to seeing you around. –  Isaac Moses Feb 1 '12 at 4:30
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@HachamGabriel - we don't pasken halachah here anyway, and it's a great story (which I'm certain did actually happen). –  Dave Feb 1 '12 at 4:32
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Although I quoted the story from a book, I also heard the story from reliable people in the community where it happened. (The story happened at the Yeshiva of South Shore run by Rabbi Binyamin Kamenetsky.) –  LazerA Feb 1 '12 at 13:21
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@avi, actually, I would not be surprised at all if this story did indeed happen with multiple different gedolim. The impulse to bring the mezuza down to the kids' level is natural (and one I've seen expressed in at least one institution), the Halacha against it is apparently clear, and there's one resolution which is most natural. The only step left for the gedolim in question is the pedagogic insight, which also follows somewhat naturally, and on that, we see slightly different (characteristic!) emphases in the two stories - elevation and truth. It rings true to me. –  Isaac Moses Feb 1 '12 at 14:49
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I can't remember where I read this, but it was from a Chabad teacher.

It was asked if the Mezuzah could be made lower. And his answer was that rather than lowering the Miztvah to meet the child, get a step stool so the child can climb up to reach the mezuzah.

He compared this to the Cohen in the Temple who had to go up some steps in order to reach the Menorah and light the lamps.

I thought it was an important pedagogical lesson, even if it's not practical for every door in the house. Eventually the child will be tall enough to reach without the step stool though.

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I like this lesson a lot. Just make sure that the step stool is placed and used safely! –  Isaac Moses Jan 31 '12 at 23:14
    
It's an important methodological point too about how to handle situations where Halacha doesn't produce the most convenient outcome. –  Double AA Apr 3 at 2:41
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What I have seen done by a big Talmid Chochom was that they built a 3 foot high wall on two sides with a beam going across at the ceiling height. Then they put the Mezuza 2 feet off the ground where children were able to reach it.

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where did they put this wall? –  Double AA Jan 26 '12 at 17:06
    
In the center of a room. –  Gershon Gold Jan 26 '12 at 17:50
    
Wasn't that awkward for everyone else who used the room? –  Double AA Jan 26 '12 at 20:01
    
The first time I saw it I thought it looked funny, however the purpose was for the children who came into the house to be able to kiss it. –  Gershon Gold Jan 26 '12 at 20:03
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2 mezuzahs may not be affixed to a doorpost. It is obviously not educational to do something against halacha plus kissing the mezuzah is a custom while the proper placement is halacha. A child will learn the prper placement and will grow up anticipating the time he can reach the mezuzah to kiss it.

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mezuzah sofer, thanks for your answer, which would be much improved if you'd cite sources for its claims (as otherwise we have only your word to go by, and, no offense intended, but most of us don't know you). Welcome to Mi Yodeya! I hope you stick around and enjoy the site. Please consider registering your account, which will give you access to more of the site's features. –  msh210 Sep 4 '12 at 14:21
    
Why is it "obviously not educational to do something against halacha"? –  Double AA Sep 4 '12 at 16:20
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I don't have any source, but I do have a suggestion. Hang the Mezzuzah in the appropriate place with a bracha, then hang one lower without a bracha or a klaf. In this way the child will practice kissing the Mezzuzah as it sounds like you want it to become a habit, without breaking Halacha.

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I wouldn't put a klaf in the lower one lest it become a problem of ba'al tosif –  Double AA Jan 26 '12 at 16:13
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I'm not sure it's good chinuch to teach a child to kiss a too-low m'zuza: you're teaching him that it can be that low. As always, consult your rabbi. –  msh210 Jan 26 '12 at 19:18
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But he's not kissing a mezzuza!? –  YDK Jan 26 '12 at 19:57
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@morahhochman, see judaism.stackexchange.com/a/13785. –  msh210 Feb 1 '12 at 4:34
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In addition to what msh210 said, This could potentially cause some Maarit Ayin issues, if people see two mezuzot on a doorpost or the child grows up wondering why she has 2 mezuzot and other places do not. There is no way for a person to know if there is a klaf in the mezuzah or not. And if you try to hang it vertical or horizontal or backwards, that leads to other issues. –  avi Feb 1 '12 at 8:42
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