Mezuzah is a parchment which we affix to our doorposts, on which
a scribe has
hand-written two paragraphs
from the Torah: The portion of 'Sh'ma Yisroel' ("Hear
O Israel...") in the Book of Deuteronomy 6:4-9, and the portion
of 'V'hoyo-im-shamoa' ("And it shall happen if you
obey...") in Deuteronomy 11:13-21. In these paragraphs, God
states that great rewards await those who observe the Mitzvot,
including prosperity, long life for us and our children as well
as tight security for the house . Each of the two paragraphs includes
a commandment to affix a Mezuzah on the doorpost.
portions are written on the parchment with special ink,
by a highly trained and certified scribe. The text is
written in a single column on 22 scored lines. Every letter
must be properly written, for even one letter written
incorrectly invalidates the Mezuzah.
On the back of the parchment is written the word 'Sha-dai',
along with certain other letters. After the scribe has
completed his writing, the parchment is rolled (not folded
or creased) from left to right, so that the first word
to appear when the Mezuzah is opened is 'Sh-ma'. The Mezuzah
is then placed in a protective cover or case and is ready
to be put up on the doorpost.
The Holy Zohar, writes
"Come and see,
that a person is required to inscribe the Holy Name upon
the doorpost of his home. For every place that the Holy
Name is found the bad spirits cannot be found there, and
they are unable to act upon a person as the verse says:
"lo siuna alecha ru" When a person puts
a Mezuzah on his door, and the Holy Name is inscribed
within its letters, then the person is crowned with the
Crown of his Master, and the bad spirits are unable to
get close and therefore cannot be found there."
The Parthian king,
Artiban, once sent a priceless jewel to Rabbi Judah the Prince
(135 c.e. - 220 c.e.), who was the compiler of the Mishna and
one of the wealthiest Jews. The king made it obvious that he expected
something of equal value in return. The Rabbi's return gift to
the king was a Mezuzah. The king's reply was: "I sent you
something priceless and you sent me something that can be bought
for a paltry sum!?" The Rabbi answered: "You sent me
something that I must hire a guard to watch and I sent you something
that will watch over you!" Talmud Yerushalmi, Peah 1:1
Most mitzvot have
the power to protect while we are actively engaged in performing
them, but mezuzah is unique in that it protects even as we sleep.
My friends grandmother had developed a numbness in her hand. She
visited a variety of doctors and specialists, but no one could
help her. The numbness persisted for months, and was getting progressively
worse. Finally, my friends grandmother asked her rabbi for advice.
"Check your mezuzah," he said. Left with no other "more
practical" option, she took down the mezuzah and looked inside.
The meticulously written scroll was perfect -- except for one
letter missing: a yud. Yud is related to the Hebrew word for hand,
yad. My friends grandmother had the mezuzah replaced, and within
days her hand returned to normal. True story.
A central belief of the Jewish religion is that God cares about
us; He desires to give us long life and protection. And as in
all relationships, the more we put into it; the more we get out
of it. By declaring our loyalty to God and His precepts - i.e.
by protecting the mezuzah and its ideals -- God will protect us
A "kosher" mezuzah
is hand-written on genuine parchment, prepared from the skin of
a kosher animal. A specially trained scribe, known as a sofer,
carefully writes the words using special black ink and a quill
pen. The letters must be written according to halacha (Jewish
Law), and every letter and word must be correct. Any mistakes
or missing letters invalidates the entire parchment.
It is not possible to know if a mezuzah is kosher just by looking
at it, since part of it's being kosher has to do with the scribe
who wrote it. It is for this reason that one should buy a mezuzah
from a God-fearing person. Look for a scribe with certification
from the Vaad Mishmeret Stam.
A kosher mezuzah should cost $30-40. You can purchase valid scrolls
To protect the mezuzah from the elements, you should place it
in a case. Jewish bookstores sell a wide range of mezuzah cases
-- from inexpensive plastic, to artistic porcelain, to elaborate
silver. (If you're putting the mezuzah outside, be sure to buy
a waterproof case.)
Because of humidity and natural aging, the letters on a mezuzah
can become cracked or faded. For this reason, a mezuzah should
be checked twice every seven years.
and Guidance on How to Install a Mezuzah
moving into a new home...
should be put up immediately. If you're only renting,
and the house or apartment is located in the diaspora,
then the mezuzah can be put up within 30 days.
When moving out of a home -- and the next occupant is
also Jewish -- it is considered disrespectful to remove
the mezuzot. But since there is a significant expense
involved (since one house could have many mezuzot),
it is appropriate for the new occupants to pay for the
mezuzot, or alternatively to offer to put up their own.
Where can I find
a Sofer or buy?
A large store on the net can be found on http://www.stam.net
For other stores fell free to e-mail
Where do I put Mezuzos?
today, the custom is to put a mezuzah on most doors
that people use. Therefore, a Jewish home typically
has mezuzot on the front and side doors, porch, bedrooms,
living room, playroom, garage (if used for storage
and not just cars), laundry room, etc.
Closets and other small spaces that are not large
enough to be used for normal living do not need a
mezuzah. (Though some authorities require it.)
the mezuzah in the case or on the wall, be sure that
the Hebrew word "Shaddai," which is
written on the back of the parchment, is facing outward
(i.e. toward the entrance once it is affixed). Also,
make sure the mezuzah is not upside down!
2. The mezuzah should be
placed on the right-hand doorpost -- i.e. on the right
side of the door as you enter the room.
3. How far up on the doorpost?
The mezuzah should be placed on the lower part of the
upper-third of the doorpost -- approximately shoulder
height. (The Talmud compares this to phylacterys (Tefillin),
which is placed on the upper arm.)
4. At which angle? The
Ashkenazi custom is to position the mezuzah at a slight
angle, with the top half pointing toward the room you
are about to enter. The Sephardi custom is to place
the mezuzah straight up vertically. (If the doorpost
is too narrow to allow for a slant, Ashkenazim also
place it vertically.)
5. If the doorway is deep,
the mezuzah should be placed on the doorpost within
3 inches of the entrance. If the doorway has little
depth, i.e. it is not possible to place the mezuzah
on the doorpost within the doorway itself, then the
mezuzah is placed on the outer part of the doorpost,
within 3 inches of the doorway.
6. The mezuzah should be
permanently affixed, with glue, nails or screws. Tape
that would easily fall off if bumped into is regarded
as too temporary to be considered "affixed."
Similarly, velcro and magnets may not be used.
7. The mezuzah must be
affixed both on the top and bottom. When using double-sided
foam tape, either use one long piece which reaches the
top and bottom of the mezuzah case, or put two pieces
-- one on top and one on the bottom.
8. A strong glue or double-sided
foam tape is acceptable only if the case opens from
the top or bottom. If the case opens from the back,
then by using glue or foam tape, only the removable
back of the cover will be "affixed to the doorpost,"
while the hollow section containing the mezuzah will
not. Therefore, a case which opens from the back should
be affixed with nails or screws.
Reciting the Blessing
the blessing, the case with the mezuzah enclosed should
be held against the doorpost -- ready to turn the first
screw or tap in the first nail. If using glue or foam
tape, be prepared to firmly affix the case on the doorpost
immediately upon completing the blessing.
Once the mezuzah is in position, but before affixing
it to the door, the following blessing is recited:
Ata Adonoy, Elo-heinu Melech Ha'olam,
asher kid'shanu bi'mitzvo-sav, vi'tzivanu
are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe,
Who sanctified us with His mitzvot,
and commanded us to affix a mezuzah.
you are hanging many mezuzot at the same time, only
one blessing is recited on the first mezuzah -- usually
the front door. When making the blessing, have in mind
the remaining mezuzot, and try not to make any interruptions
until all the mezuzot are affixed.
Kissing the Mezuzah
our home with divine protection and a sense of well
being. They are treated with a huge amount of respect.
The tradition, which has been passed down thru the
ages, teaches us to kiss the Mezuzah. From an early
age, children are taught the value of Mezuzot by being
lifted up and afforded the opportunity to kiss the
When fixing the Mezuzah
the mezuzah we make the blessing, Blessed are You,
God our God, King of the universe Who made us holy
with His commandments and commanded us to affix the
mezuzah"). It must be affixed in a permanent
manner. The person affixing the mezuzah should be
over the age of bar or bas mitzvah.
How often do I need to check my Mezuzos?
to be checked twice every 7 years. Have them checked
by a certified Sofer. Computer scanning can be done
to examine for missing letters or words. This examination
is inexpensive, and it only needs to be performed
once. Computer scanning is not counted as being checked,
as the computer only looks for spelling mistakes.
Only a Sofer is qualified to notice cracked, peeling,
or touching letters.