What is a Mezuzah?

Mezuzah is derived from the ancient Hebrew word mezuzot and means "doorpost." The Mezuzah is hand-imprinted on a kosher parchment paper that is found in most Jewish households. It is affixed to the doorpost which fulfills the biblical requirements of Deuteronomy 6:9 from the Torah which states "And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates."

The Preparation of the Mezuzah

The history of the Mezuzah is directly tied to the mitzvah. The mitzvah is a core celebration in Judaism. Traditional adherance to the mitzvah requires that the Mezuzah be attached to every door in the household. The Mezuzah is meticulously prepared using over 4,000 instructions. Jewish scribes Mezuzahcalled, sofers, take care to prepare the Mezuzah, and often study for years to be able to prepare it. Judaism mandates that if even one letter of the Mezuzah is incorrect the entire scroll is invalid. It is the Jewish custom to complete a Mezuzah in one sitting without breaks.

The Mezuzah parchment must also be without flaw, which has prompted the need for protective cases. Cases have been created over the years of all types of materials including pewter, wood, and bronze. The Mezuzah is always displayed on the right side of the door eight centimeters from the opening of the door. In some Jewish communities the Mezuzah is placed at a slant to bridge the gap between traditional and sideways Mezuzah placements. During the placing ceremony the prayer "Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded you to affix the Mezuzah" is read. Once the prayer is read, the Mezuzah is placed by a practicing member of Judaism.

The Composition of the Mezuzah

The Mezuzah is composed of 22 lines which corresponds to the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. It is composed of two paragraphs with an indentation on the second paragraph. The back of the Mezuzah typically contains the words "Shaddai" which is one of the Hebrew names for God. Once prepared, the Mezuzah is rolled from the left. The Mezuzah remains in the home after the family moves, unless the next family is not of the Jewish faith.

Maintaining the Mezuzah

The Mezuzah is checked twice every year for imperfections. If the Mezuzah has cracks or breaks it must be immediately replaced. The Mezuzah is considered one of the signs of a Jewish household and plays a very important role in honoring God.