WHAT (AND WHY) IS A MEZZUZA?
By Rabbi Shmuel Jablon (author, Jewish Answers)
In the Torah (Devarim- Deuteronomy 6:9), every Jew is commanded, "Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." This commandment means that we must install a mezuzah on every doorpost in our home (whether we own or rent).
A mezuzah is a very special parchment that has hand written on it the first two paragraphs of Kriat Shema, Devarim (Deuteronomy) 6:4-9 and 11:13-21. The parchment, known in Hebrew as Klaf, is prepared from the skin of a kosher animal. A specially trained scribe, known as a Sofer, carefully writes the words using special black ink and a quill pen. The letters must be written in the manner indicated by halacha (Jewish Law), and every letter and word must be correct. Any mistakes or missing letters invalidates the entire parchment. It is very important to remember that a photocopied scroll, or a scroll written by someone who is not a qualified scribe, is invalid and doesnít fulfill the commandment.
The parchment is then rolled so that letters are facing the inside. The letter Shin (the first letter of Shaddai- on of the Holy Names of G-d) is on the outside. The parchment is normally then inserted into a protective case or covering (Though often people refer to the case as the mezuzah, this is clearly incorrect.). The mezuzah is then ready to be installed "on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
One says the blessing:
Baruch Attah A-donai Eloheynu Melech haOlam
Blessed are You HASHEM our G-d, King of the Universe
Asher Kidishanu Bímitzvotav Vitzivanu Likboa Mezuzah
who has made us holy by His commandments and commended us to affix the mezuzah.
Play the Blessing
Every room that has doorposts in which a Jew lives (other than the bathroom) must have a mezuzah. Therefore, a Jewish home typically has numerous mezuzot in order that the house, porch, bedrooms, living room, play room, garage (if itís used for storage and not just cars), laundry room, etc. all are properly set aside for Jewish living. Closets, and other small spaces, that are not large enough to be used (or are indeed not used) for normal living also do not have a mezuzah. The mezuzah is installed on the right doorpost as you enter the room, about 2/3 of the way up the door post. Ashkenazi Jews install it with the top tilted in to the room. Sephardic Jews have it going straight up and down.
One only says ONE blessing for all the mezuzot being put up at one time.
Mezuzot should be rechecked twice every seven years to make sure they are still kosher (Remember, since theyíre handwritten on parchment, it is very possible for letters to crack or fade, thus rendering the mezuzah not Kosher!).
This is a vital commandment from G-d. It reminds the Jew that s/he is constantly obligated to obey G-d, and to make every action a holy one.
As is evident from the description above, the e-mezuzah is not a Kosher mezuzah that will fulfill the commandment. However, it is a beautiful educational tool that is designed to teach all who use it about this precious mitzvah. By looking at a copy of the scroll, as well as its English translation, you can derive inspiration and knowledge.
Hopefully, if you are Jewish, you will want to observe this commandment in its fullest sense. Invest in Kosher mezuzot! In your area, you should look for a sofer (trained scribe) with certification from the Vaad Mishmereth StaM. There are some certified Sofrim who maintain sites on-line that may be of help. I was able to locate some at:
These sites also have a lot more information about the mitzvah of mezuzah.
You can also find a beautiful article about the significance of the mezuza one the web site of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations.
May the entire House of Israel merit to fulfill the commandment of mezuza in all its fullness, and to make all of our homes dedicated to the Service of G-d!