The Scroll - The Heart and Soul of the Mezuzah
A Mezuzah is made up of two parts, the box or case and the scroll. Most people think of the box when they think of the Mezuzah since that is what you see. But actually it's the scroll that makes a Mezuzah a Mezuzah.
Mezuzah boxes come in hundreds of styles and can be made out of almost anything. The only requirement is that they hold and protect the scroll from the elements. The Mezuzah scroll is a whole other story!
What is a Mezuzah Scroll?
The Mezuzah scroll contains two paragraphs from the Torah. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21).
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our G-d, the Lord is one. Love the the Lord your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."
"So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today -to love the Lord your G-d and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul - then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. I will provide grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. Beware lest you be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then the Lord's anger will burn against you, and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you. Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land that the Lord swore to give your forefathers, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth."
These two sections are actually handwritten by a Torah scribe who is highly trained in this kind of work. It can't be printed or photocopied. It has to be written in the original ancient Hebrew script. The Mezuzah scroll must be written on parchment made from skin of a kosher animal. This parchment is called Klaf in Hebrew. It may not be written on paper or parchment paper.
What Makes the Mezuzah Scroll Kosher?
There are many thousands of rules that make the Mezuzah scroll kosher. Here are some of them:
- Before writing the Mezuzah Scroll the scribe must verbally declare his intention to write for the sake of the commandment of Mezuzah.
- No two letters may touch.
- Every letter must be clear so that it can't be confused with another letter.
- The scribe must verbally declare his intention before every time he writes one of the names of God.
- No two words can be too close, otherwise it may look like a single word.
- There can't be too much space in the middle of a word that might make it look like two words.
These are just a few examples. But they should be enough to give you the idea that this is work that should be left to the professionals!
Unfortunately there are some places that provide photocopied scrolls or other non kosher Mezuzah scrolls with the Mezuzahs they sale. Customers often buy these because of the low price but aren't aware that such a "mezuzah scroll" doesn't fulfill the requirements of the Jewish tradition which goes back thousands of years.
We actually founded MezuzahStore.com back in 1999 to make sure that people would get Kosher Mezuzah scrolls with their Mezuzahs. That's why every Mezuzah on our site has a drop-down box to purchase a Kosher scroll with the Mezuzah.