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The Jewish ritual of affixing a Mezuzah

Updated on April 11, 2013

What is a Mezuzah?

Mezuzah is a Hebrew word meaning doorpost. However it has evolved to refer to the case that holds the piece of parchment that is hung on the doorposts of Jewish houses.

What is inscribed on the parchment inside the Mezuzah?

Two sections from the book of Deuteronomy are written on the parchment. These sections are part of the Jewish prayer, the Shema. Within this prayer mention is made of belief in G-d's Oneness. Seven hundred and thirteen letters are written on the parchment. If even one letter is missing or incorrectly written, the parchment is invalid. A Hebrew acronym, Sha-dai, a shortened version of Shomer Daltot Yisrael, is written on the reverse side of the parchment. This acronym is one of G-d's names and means Guardian of the Doorways of Israel. The scroll is rolled from left to right before being placed in the case so that Sha-dai is visible.

The Mezuzah Case

The parchment is placed in a case for protection. If a case is unavailable, the scroll can be wrapped in thick paper or similar material. If a case is bought with a scroll already enclosed, be sure to buy from a reliable source. A case can be made from a variety of materials. Remember that what's inside the case is more important than the case itself.

What is the source for affixing the Mezuzah?

"And you shall write them [referring to the words of Shema] on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." -Deuteronomy 6:9; 11:20

Which doorposts require a Mezuzah?

Every single room in a house or building requires a Mezuzah. That is, every room larger than 6.5 feet by 6.5 feet with a full doorway. It should be noted that a room of lesser proportions may have a Mezuzah on the doorpost; it just won't require a blessing upon affixing. Rooms that don't need a Mezuzah include bathrooms, shower rooms and the like.

our door frame
our door frame | Source

Who affixes the Mezuzah?

Preferably the home owner should affix the Mezuzah. If not, a Jew over Bar/Bat Mitzvah may do so.

When should the Mezuzah be affixed?

The Mezuzah maybe affixed at any time of night or day. However it may not be fixed on the Sabbath or major festivals.

The Blessing over the Mezuzah

Before fixing the Mezuzah, the following blessing is recited: Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to affix a Mezuzah.

When affixing several Mezuzot, there is no need to recite the blessing over each one. One should simply bless over the first one whilst keeping in mind that the blessing should include the other Mezuzot too.

How to affix the Mezuzah?

The Mezuzah should be affixed in a permanent way, using nails, glue or double-sided mounting tape.

Where on the doorpost is the Mezuzah affixed?

The Mezuzah is affixed on the right hand side of the door as you enter. It is hung at a slight angle with the top pointing into the room and the bottom pointing out. It is hung on the bottom of the top third of the doorpost.

Photo credit: ratterrell / / CC BY-NC-ND

What kind of Mezuzah case would you prefer

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