Children's Midrashim

In our 6th grade religious school class, someone asked: Is there a connection between the blood the Israelites enslaved in Egypt painted on their doorposts to protect their children from the Angel of Death the night before they fled, and the mezuzot we affix to our doorposts, which contain the words of the Ve'ahavta? Here are midrashim which explore the possible connection between these two.


• Blood on the Doorpost by Erica Finkel
• What is the Reason for Lamb's Blood and the Words of the Ve'ahavta Being on the Doorpost? by Michael Berkowitz
The Mezuzah with the Red Design by Lisa Hollander
Doorposts: Blood and Prayers by Danny Scheinerman

Blood on the Doorpost

by Erica Finkel

One day, God was thinking about what the Jewish people could do for God, after God gave them the Torah. Then, God thought of an idea. "Why don't I command them to put a symbol on their doorposts to remind them and others that they are Jewish?" God thought for a moment and then said, "It will probably work, but I'll give it a test run, just to be sure."

During this time, the Jews were enslaved in Egypt and God was going to send the Angel of Death to kill all the Egyptian firstborns. God wasn't quite sure how the Angel of Death would tell the difference between an Egyptian and Jewish firstborn. "Perfect time to give my idea a test run," God said. So God told the Jews to put lamb's blood on their doorposts. Then, God told the Angel of Death to pass over the houses with lamb's blood on their doorposts, for it was a symbol that the family was Jewish. The Angel of Death and the Jewish people obeyed. So that night, all the Egyptian firstborns died, and not a single Jewish firstborn was touched. "It worked perfectly!" God said. So God wrote the Ve'ahavta and we still follow it to this day!

What is the Reason for Lamb's Blood and the Words of the Ve'ahavta Being on the Doorpost?

by Michael Berkowitz

Long ago, when the Jewish people were still slaves in Egypt, God decided it was time to teach the mean ol' nasty Pharaoh a lesson. Moses had been asking and begging the Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free. Each time, Pharaoh refused. Then God got really mad, and when God gets mad, however God gets mad at had better watch their rearends. So God sent the first nine of the ten plagues. None of them even swayed the Egyptians. Then God got really, really mad! God decided to send the Angel of Death to kill all the firstborn Egyptian sons. But then God realized something very important.

"The Angel of Death won't know the different between Jewish homes and Egyptian homes, and the Jews have plenty of their own firstborn. I must find a way to protect My people. But how?"

God called a meeting of all the heavenly beings.

"Now here's the deal," God said. "We've got to come up with a way to save the Jewish firstborn from the angel of death."

Everyone thought, but no one could come up with an idea. Finally, God came up with something.

"I know," God said. "We can have the people Israel keep the words of the Torah in their house. That way the Angel of Dea..."

"YOU HAVEN'T GIVEN THEM THE TORAH YET!" the angels all yelled at once.

"Oh, yeah," God said. "Good point. You're right, that won't work. Well, we could always do that after they receive the Torah."

"But by then the Angel of Death would have passed by," all the angels chorused.

God did not answer them directly, but reached for the story of humankind and read from the chpater entitled, "The Holocaust." The angels agreed that help would be needed later and made anote of that in their "Ideas for the Future" notebook.

Then a heated argument broke out over what should be the symbol for the angel of death. Each heavenly being argued for his or her favorite color. Finally, God decided it was time to break this up.

"Cool it!" God yelled. "Why don't we settle this in the way of the future?" God quickly wrote up a ballot that had two sections. One was to say what color you were voting for and on the other side you wrote what you proposed to use for the color. God slid the ballot through the Divine Xerox Machine. When the angels stepped inside the booth, some of them realized that there wasn't anything in this time period that would make paint the color they voted for. When God posted the results, it appeared that red had won as the color, and blood had won as the substance to be used. This of course made it necessary to repeat the process with types of animals. There was tie between the cow the donkey. God, of course, had the last say in this, and decided on an animal that no one had thought of: the lamb.

"Because, of course," God explained, "the lamb grows to be the animal I will sent to be sacrificed in place of Isaac. Now he shall be called upon to perform another act of sacrifice."

The lamb was not happy to be God's choice. The angels tried to convince him that what he was doing was a very noble thing, but nothing would change the lamb's mind. Finally, God had to give the lamb a tranquilizer. The lamb strolled into the middle of the Jewish slave town. The people sacrificed him that evening.

The Mezuzah with the Red Design

by Lisa Hollander

One day I was walking around my neighborhood. A house caught my eye because I saw that it had a mezuzah with a red design that looked like blood on the doorpost of the house. I stood there looking at the house and wondering why there was a mezuzah and a red design on the doorpost. I knew that my house has a mezuzah and a red design on it, but I never thought about why. I hadn't the faintest idea. I skipped back up the hill to my house so I could ask my mother.

When I got there, I saw that she was cleaning the floor. At first I didn't know why and then I remembered that we were having my grandparents over for dinner.

I went in and asked my mother. She said that she didn't have time to explain it to me and that I needed to get dressed because my grandparents would be here soon. I didn't want to have to change into "nice, lady-like clothes" as my mother puts it. I knew I had to so I didn't argue. I went upstairs to my small room and got changed. When I came down, my mother yelled at me to put the chicken in the oven. I hadn't even seen her rush like that for a long time. I heard a faint knock on the door, so I ran to get it while yelling to my mother that my grandparents were here.

As they came in, they each kissed the mezuzah with respect. That reminded me of my question so I vowed to myself to ask it later. I knew mother would get mad at me if I started asking questions right when the guests come in. We got seated and started talking about something boring, so I started thinking my own thoughts. All of a sudden, my mother asked me to help her in the kitchen. Fifteen minutes later, my mother asked me to call everyone in for dinner. I did as I was told. When everyone was seated, my mother and I dished out the soup. We ate the soup while making small talk. when we were finsiehd with our soup, I cleared the table and brought out the main course. We started eating quietly. I decided that was the right time to ask my question.

After I had asked it, my grandfather took a deep breath and started explaining why. He told me, "Perhaps the mezuzah you saw had a red design that looks like blood because during the Exodus, the angel of death flew over their houses. At that time, the angel of death wanted to kill all the firstborn male children. The Jews put lamb's blood on their doorposts and the angel of death flew right over their houses without killing anyone." He asked me if I knew why we put a mezuzah on our doorpost. I knew, but I wanted to hear him explain it, so I told him no.

"The reason that we put mezuzot on our doorposts is to remember our obligations as Jews. As you saw, when your grandmother and I came into your house, we kissed the mezuzah. You may not be able to reach it, so you don't kiss it now, but when you get older and taller, you should get into the habit of kissing it. The Shema is a very important prayer in a Jew's life. You say the Shema every night before you go to bed. You know the prayer by heat. The Shema reminds you to love God all the time no matter where you are and or what you are doing. It also says that you should study the Torah. Kissing the mezuzah reminds you of the Shema. Do you understand better?" he asked.

"Yes," I replied. For the rest of the meal we talked about boring things, so I thought about my knowledge of why we have a mezuzah and red design that looks like blood to me, on our doorpost. After I thought about it for a while, it started to make sense. Maybe one day, my children or grandchildren will ask me the same thing, and I will be able to answer them.

Doorposts: Blood and Prayers

by Danny Scheinerman

God has helped the Jewish people stay together and live in the past, by using our doorposts. In Egypt, we were slaves, but God brought ten plagues. Finally, God brought the Angel of Death. God told the Jews to put lamb's blood on the doorposts of their homes so the Angel of Death would pass over their houses. Then, God brought us to the Promised Land. This is the first incident in which God kept the Jewish people together by using their doorposts.

Later, after God freed us from Egypt, God gave us the Ve'havta which tells us to teach and study these words and also write them upon the doorposts of our homes and upon our gates. This is the second occasion in which God kept the Jewish people together by using doorposts.

Will God use doorposts in the future in order to save the Jewish people?

Before the Temple was destroyed, Jews worshiped God by making sacrifices. They drained the blood from the sacrifices, the blood which they had used on the doorposts of their houses and which had saved them. Now we use the Torah in order to pray and we mark our doorposts with words of Torah. Is this the way God has distinguished us as Jews? Will marking the Ve'ahavta on our doorposts save our lives in the future?