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Jewish Traditions and Costumes

Mezuzah 101 by Contemporary Judaica Designs           

The top selling items in every Judaica gift shop whether it is in Israel or imported from

Israel are Mezuzah Cases. Mezuzah Cases are available in every Jewish home

anywhere in the world. Our contemporary mezuzah cases, part of our Judaica Designs,

are all hand crafted in Israel. We also invite you to click HERE to view a short clip that

describes the story of a mezuzah from its making to the door post.

 

Below is a brief guidance on Mezuzahs and Kosher Scrolls.

The Mezuzah is placed on the doorposts of Jewish homes.  It's a small case that contains a small hand written scroll of parchment (called a klaf). The mitzvah to place Mezuzoton the doorposts of Jewish houses is derived from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 passage commonly known as the "Shema Israel" (Hear Israel). In that passage, God commands the Jewish people to keep his words constantly in their minds and hearts by writing on their doorposts. The scroll also contains another passage (Deuteronomy 11:13). The passages are written in Hebrew, and contain 22 lines of 713 painstakingly written letters. On the back of the scroll, the name of God is written. The scroll is then rolled so that the first letter of the Name (the letter SHIN) is visible (or, more commonly, the letter SHIN or in Hebrew שis written on the on the upper exterior of the mezuzah case). The scroll must be handwritten by a certified God fearing scribe (Sofer)in a specialstyle of writing with special black ink and quill on one piece of specially prepared and scored parchment. The scroll must be placed in the Mezuzah case to fulfill the mitzvah. It is commonplace for gift shops to sell mezuzah cases without scrolls as the scrolls are sold separately and are priced according to the Sofer who writes them. The scroll may not contain mistakes or additions to its text. Any mistake, even one letter that was written incorrectly, would render the scroll and the Mezuzah case invalid (Pasul).

It is customary to many Jews to touch a mezuzah and kiss the fingers that touched it every time they pass through a door with a Mezuzah on it. This is a custom of expressing love and respect for God and his commandments. The Mezuzah is not; as some may think, a good-luck charm, nor does it have any connection with the lamb's blood placed on the doorposts in Egypt. Rather, it is a constant reminder of God's presence and God's commandments.

The Mezuzah should be placed on the doorposts of every Jewish home. Mezuzot should also be placed in every room within the home. A place serving regularly for unclean use, such as a bathroom, is exempt from Mezuzah. The Mezuzah should also be affixed on gates leading to communal places, synagogues, schools, and Jewish owned business establishments, even on gates of cities, symbolizing the sovereignty of the commandments over the Jewish social and communal life in all its aspects.

The exact placement of a Mezuzah is on the right side of the doorpost (when entering the home or room), on the lower part of the upper third of the doorpost (or around shoulder height for high doorways). The case should be permanently affixed with nails, screws, glue, or strong double-sided tape, with a small ceremony called Chanukkat Ha-Bayit (dedication of the house - yes, this is the same word as Chanukkah, the holiday in which Jews are celebrating the rededication of the Temple). A brief blessing is recited.

The Mezuzah is affixed at an angle because the rabbis could not decide whether it should be placed horizontally or vertically, so they compromised. The top of the Mezuzah should be slanted toward the room the door opens into. It is proper to remove a Mezuzah when you move houses, and in fact, it is usually recommended. If you leave it in place, the subsequent owner may treat it with disrespect.

Mezuzah cases vary in size, materials, and prices. Contemporary Judaica Designs features hand crafted Mezuzah cases, made in Israel, at price ranges of $50-$100. Kosher scrolls sell separately.