The sanctity of the Jewish home is symbolized by the Mezuzah, a
small scroll affixed at the doorpost of every Jewish home, and in
every room therein.
What does the Mezuzah contain? It contains the two Biblical
passages in which mention is made of this important commandment:
"And thou shalt write them upon the door posts
of thy house and upon thy gates."
(Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Deuteronomy 11:13-21)
And it is not only "upon the door post of thy house" that the Mezuzah
has to be affixed, it has to be affixed also "upon thy gates."
The affixing of the Mezuzah on gates leading to communal places,
even on gates of cities, symbolizes the sovereignty of the commandments
also over the Jewish social and communal life in all its aspects.
On the other hand, a Mezuzoh affixed - for example - at the entrance
gate of a city, would not exempt each individual house within that
city from the duty of affixing a Mezuzah of its own. The Jewish
Community is health and wholesome only if composed of spiritually
healthy and wholesome individuals and families.
Some Laws Concerning Mezuzah
- No additions should be made to the text of the Mezuzah.
- Every place set aside for human activity of any kind requires
a Mezuzah at its entrance. A place serving regularly for unclean use,
such as a bathroom, is exempt from Mezuzah.
- A Mezuzah must be affixed not only at the front door, but also at
all other doors in the house (i. e. even at doors leading to corridors,
pantries, porches, fire-escapes, garage, etc.).
- A synagogue, dedicated exclusively to prayer (i.e. not serving
also for gatherings, lectures, communal meals, etc.) is exempt
- The Mezuzah is folded so that the "Shema", which is on the
right-hand side of the written page, should be on top, with the
writing inside, starting from left to right.
- Before being affixed, the Mezuzah is placed in a cover or case,
made of glass, wood, metal, plastic or any other material. Care should also
be taken not to put the Scroll of the Mezuzah in the case upside-down.
- The Mezuzah is affixed on the door post, at the right hand as you
enter, in the upper third of its height. When doors are extraordinarily
high, then the Mezuzah is to be affixed at the level of a man's shoulder.
The Mezuzah is affixed in an inclined position, the upper part
pointing towards the entrance.
- In some particular cases, such as entrances without doors,
door-exits to yards, doors to fire-escapes, etc. the exact place
where the Mezuzah is to be affixed is determined in accordance
with various principles. In such cases, therefore, it is most
advisable to consult a reliable observant Rabbi.
- The Mezuzah is usually affixed by nails or tacks, but mortar,
adhesive tape, etc. may also be used.
- Mezuzahs in private buildings have to be examined twice in seven
years as to whether no obliteration or other defect has occurred.
Only a qualified and reliable scribe (sofer) should be entrusted
with such examination.
- Outside the Holy Land, the duty of affixing a Mezuzah in a rented
apartment begins on the 30th day after moving into such flat or
- The affixing of the Mezuzah is the duty of the tenant. However,
when moving to another house or apartment, Mezuzahs should not be
taken away, unless the tenant is a non-Jew.
- Particular attention should be paid to buying the Mezuzah from a
dependable store in order to be sure that it is hand-written in
the proper way, by a duly qualified scribe (sofer); or order it
from such a scribe directly where possible. Those not written in
conformity with requirements must NOT be used in any event.
- It is customary to put the right hand on the Mezuzah and kiss it
both upon entering and leaving the house. Also during the night-
prayer, before retiring to bed, the same is usually done.