For more than two years I have been co-operating via e mails with a non Jewish lady historian in Poland researching Jewish history of Przedecz where my father was born 115 years ago. Others with connections to Przedecz have been involved. The zenith of this research is scheduled to take place at a gathering in two weeks time in Przedecz with the Chief Rabbi of Poland and church officials and the local Mayor.
The purpose is to show what Przedecz lost when the last Jewish people were murdered on 24 April 1942. The presentation is to the adults and school children of the town. Rabbi Yosef Alexander Zemelman and his Yeshiva and leadership will be a major feature. Artefacts of Jewish interest will be displayed.
QUESTION: With this brief backgound how do I answer a request from this non-Jewish lady (who lives far from Przedecz) for a mezzuah for her to place on or in her house? Google translation of her request “prayer placed in the door frame mezuzah
so I would like the mezuzah ISRAEL FOR MY HOUSE BLESSING
VERY VERY PLEASE BUY FOR ME
I will return the favor;-)”
I have been told that there is a gemorrah in which R. Yehudah sent a mezzuzah to a non-Jew and I have been told the Shulchan Aruch specifically forbids giving a mezzuzah to a non-Jew.
I cannot offend this lady bhecause of the enormous amount of work she has done and her tremendous regard and respect for everything Jewish, especially the Rabbi and learning.
Please advise, in halachah your answer with the hashkofah of how to handle the issue.
There is room for leniency in giving the mezuzah to the lady – but only in this specific case.
The Maharil writes that one must not give a mezuzah to a non-Jew, and this is ruled by the Rema (Yoreh De’ah 291).
However, the Rema writes that in circumstances of eivah it is permitted to give away the mezuzah, and the Be’er Sheva (36) backs up the ruling based on a case mentioned in the Yerushalmi in which Rebbi gave a mezuzah to a non-Jew, permitting giving a mezuzah to a non-Jew even where there is no concrete concern for eivah. Lenient rulings are also given by Rav Moshe Feinstein (1:184) and the Divrei Yatziv (191, sec. 21).
The Vilna Gaon likewise notes the case of the Yerushalmi, as does the Yaavatz (Vol. 1, no. 122), though others (the Penei Moshe) suggest that the recipient was actually a Jew [see also Iggros Moshe, Yoreh De’ah 2:141, who writes that the recipient was without doubt a non-Jew].
Two reasons are given for why it is not permitted to give a mezuzah to a non-Jew. One reason is that the non-Jew might not treat the mezuzah with proper respect. The second reason is that people will think that the non-Jew is Jewish (the assumption, based on Menachos 43, is that this confusion is liable to endanger Jews).
In this case, the lady in question has a high esteem for Jews and Judaism, as proven by her dedication, so that the concern that the mezuzah will be mistreated is minimal (see also Iggros Moshe, loc. cit., who writes that for a non-Jew planning to place the mezuzah on his door, the concern is slight, which is why no Torah prohibition is involved). The second reason, of causing potential danger to Jews, also does not appear relevant to this case.
Therefore, based on the circumstances, in which a refusal will cause very bad feelings — and based on the lenient rulings noted above — there is room for leniency.