Judaicapedia: What is a Mezuzah?

Mezuzahs are one piece of Judaica that can be found in our daily lives. Usually found on the upper doorpost, around shoulder height, of nearly every Jewish home, these rectangular or cylindrical boxes can be found placed at an angle, with it being touched by a hand and then kissed by whoever passes through the doorway. While many think that the Jewish mezuzah is simply referring to the mezuzah case, it is actually talking about the delicate handwritten scroll inside.

There are many different meanings behind the mezuzah, but many say the mezuzah definition is that it is a symbol of protection, claiming strange things happen with the scroll is damage, but when ‘kosher’, everything is fine. So, what is a mezuzah scroll? The scroll is a piece of parchment paper written by a sofer– a Jewish scribe- with the words of Shema Yisrael and the first two paragraphs following it in the Siddur. These words actually come from Deuteronomy¬†6:4-9 and 11:13-2. On the opposite side, the letters ‘Shin-Daled-Yud’ are written, which is one of the names of G-d. The reason these words are specifically chosen is because it is a symbol of the eternal connection the Jewish people have with G-d.

A Jewish door mezuzah is not only placed on the entry to one’s home, but also many put it in nearly every room of the house, with the exception of bathrooms, closets, and very small rooms that cannot be used as any kind of living area (storage closet, boiler rooms, etc). The mezuzah is placed on the right side of the doorpost when entering the room and a blessing is recited before hanging the mezuzah for the first time. Twice every seven years, the mezuzah should be checked by a sofer to ensure the parchment and letters are not damaged and that the scroll is considered Kosher.

Many say that if you know someone Jewish is moving in after you leave, you should leave the mezuzah up, which is why in Israel, many apartments that are used for short term rent already come with mezuzahs on every doorpost. Mezuzah cases come from incredibly decorative and made from all different materials to something very simple, but rarely will you find just a scroll taped on the wall. Mezuzah cases also often have the Hebrew letter ‘Shin’ or the complete word of ‘Shin-Daled-Yud’. If your home needs a new mezuzah, check out all the cases and scrolls at the Judaica WebStore!

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