Mezuzah

In Deuteronomy 6.9 and 11.20 G-d tells us to inscribe His commandments on our doorposts. The word mezuzah means “doorpost.” In ancient times the doorpost would show one’s identity and the values of the home. The mezuzah said that this family feared the L-rd. Figuratively, this means that G-d should be in every area of our life. His word should be given preeminence in our homes. It’s not just something we think about, study or meditate only when we are in synagogue. The commandments of G-d should be a focal point of our home lives. We should speak and live out what His commandments tell us.

In ancient times the doorposts were a public sign of the family. It would reveal the identity and values of a home. G-d chose the doorposts as the place where the blood of the Passover lamb was to be displayed (Exodus 12). It was also the place where the slave who wanted to stay with his master was to have his ear pierced as a sign of his loyalty to his master. It was also the place to display His word. In this display, it identified the house as one that feared the L-rd G-d.

The first thing we do when we move into a home is to affix a mezuzah to the right side of the doorpost. The mezuzah is a small box with a parchment in it. Tradition says a mezuzah is affixed to every doorpost of the house excluding the bathrooms. But the minimum requirement is the front door. In ancient Israel, the people might have written on the doorposts themselves. Today it is a small case that is affixed to the door and that case is called a mezuzah. It even includes any fenced in area since the Torah says to inscribe the gates as well. It is not required, but often you will see a mezuzah on the doors of public buildings in Israel or on synagogues. The mezuzah should be affixed within 30 days according to rabbinic tradition. The following blessing is said when affixing the mezuzah:

Baruch atah Adonai, Eloheynu melech ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvovtav v’tzivanu likboa m’zuzah.

Blessed are You, o Lord our G-d, King of the Universe, who has sanctified us by His commandments and commanded us to affix a mezuzah.

Sephardic Jews place the mezuzah in a vertical position. Ashkenazi Jews slant the top of the mezuzah towards the room.

Many Jewish people have applied some mystical or magical powers to the mezuzah. This was not approved of by the rabbis. Maimonides denounces it saying:

“Those fools not only fail to fulfill the mitzvah itself, but they have taken a great mitzvah, which involves the Oneness of G-d and the reminder to love Him and worship Him, and treat it as though it were an amulet designed to benefit them personally.” Mishneh Torah, Mezuzah 5:4

Yet the mezuzah is considered to be a guardian of the home. It gives a sense of spirituality to the home. The home is not just a place of physical residence. The mezuzah reminds us that life is not just a matter of our physical existence. There is the spiritual dimension to life that must not be ignored. It reminds us that we should be those who diligently seek the face of G-d.

A scribe writes two passages of Scripture, Deuteronomy 6.4-9 and Deuteronomy 11.13-21 on a special parchment. The parchment is the most important and costly part of the mezuzah. It is the fulfillment of the command.

On the outside of the scroll, the scribe writes Shaddai, one of the names of G-d. A scribe handwrites the scroll. These three letters are considered an abbreviation for the phrase “Shomer Delatot Yisrael”, Guardian of Israel’s door. It is G-d Himself who protects and watches Israel. Psalm 122 tells us that G-d does not slumber nor sleep and that He is the keeper, shomer, of Israel.

It is customary to kiss the mezuzah as one enters the door. This symbolizes our love for G-d. For the Scriptures tell us if we love G-d, we will keep His commandments. (Deuteronomy 11.1 and John 14.15) As we kiss the mezuzah, we are declaring that we will walk in obedience to G-d’s word. G-d is not looking for lip service. It doesn’t matter how much we say we love G-d. Our love for Him must be demonstrated in our actions. The mezuzah is a declaration that “As for me and my house, we will serve the L-rd.” Joshua 24.15



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