What is a Mezuzah?
The simple answer is: A Mezuzah is the small box you will often see on the right side of Jewish homes.
But what is inside the box?
Inside each Mezuzah box is a small parchment scroll which is the important part of the Mezuzah. It has two paragraphs from the Torah written on it by hand in special ancient Hebrew calligraphy
Why do Jewish people put a mezuzah on their doorposts?
In two places (Deut 6 and 11), the Torah (Bible) commands the People of Israel to inscribe words of the Torah upon their doors. The ancient Jewish tradition, recorded in the Talmud tells us that these verses command us to place a parchment scroll with these two paragraphs from the torah on the upper third of the doors of our home.
Can I make my own Mezuzah?
You can certainly make the box for the Mezuzah. There are no laws regarding the box. It is only there to protect and beautify the scroll which is inside. You only have to make sure that it has enough room inside to insert the scroll without bending it or damaging it.
But making a mezuzah scroll is a different story. The ancient Jewish tradition gives very exact details regarding how this scroll is to be prepared and affixed. Here are some examples:
- No two letters can touch
- No letter can have any break in it
- No letter can run off the edge of the page
- There can be no spelling mistakes or missing words or letters.
- Each letter must have a specific shape that doesn't look like any other letter
- The ink must be jet black
- The parchment must be made from the skin of a kosher animal and made with special intention to be used for mezuzahs.
- The scribe must pronounce a formula, sanctifying the name of G-d before he writes a name of G-d in the mezuzah.
- The mezuzah must be written in order. If a mistake is made, the scribe must erase back to the place where he made the mistake and continue from there.
These are just a few of the thousands of laws that apply to the writing of a mezuzah scroll. This means that the scribe who writes the mezuzah, must study these laws and practice for years before he can write proper, kosher mezuzahs.
Isn't the Mezuzah a kind of lucky charm?
Jewish people affix Mezuzahs because it is a Mitzvah (commandment) from the Torah not in order to receive any reward. But, the Torah does promise that when people are scrupulous in performance of the Mitzvahs, they will be blessed with good things.
There is also a tradition that G-d protects the home of one who is careful to affix kosher mezuzahs to all of the doors of their home. For this reason, it is customary to have the mezuzahs checked by a qualified Torah scribe whenever there is some unusual damage or illness in the home. We are concerned that letters may have cracked or been damaged by water and the mezuzah may be invalid.
Have more questions about the mezuzah? Feel free to contact our Torah scribe, Aaron Shaffier!