I know, I know… you probably know what a mezuzah is. I mean, almost every Jewish family hangs one on their door. But did you ever have the urge to look inside the secret mezuzah world concealed behind the case? Let’s go…
The mezzuzah is actually the sacred parchment stored in the protective mezzuzah case. It is not the case itself as most people think. The case is placed on the right side of every door in the Jewish home, except for the bathroom. Why do we place it on the door?
In ancient biblical days over 3000 years ago, God commanded the Jews to place the doorpost amulet on their door. You can find this passage in the book of Devarim (Deuteronomy): “Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates”. What is the logic behind this?
The doorpost amulet is there to remind you that God is always present in your life. That you should keep God’s words constantly in your mind and in your heart. By doing this it will also assures you of God’s blessing if you fulfill his commandments.
By placing the doorpost amulet on your door, your home will be identified first and foremost as a Jewish home. But more then this, it’s believed that the it will protect the loved ones living in your home from evil. It’s customary to check the parchment for any damages or defects if a problem arises in your home.
The mezuzah is made of a rectangular piece of parchment inscribed with verses from the Book of Devarim. Looking at the parchment, you will see the name “Shaddai” inscribed on the outside, often accompanied by the words “The Lord our God the Lord” in a cryptogram. The parchment is rolled so that the name Shaddai is visible. Then it is placed in a case which is affixed to the doorpost.
The only person qualified to write on the parchment is called a sofer (scribe). Scribes are trained to inscribe the parchment in the same manner and script as the Torah. Any mistakes will make it invalid!
You should get your parchment examined by a reliable scribe when purchasing it. After that you should check it again at least twice every seven years. Age and weather conditions may cause the ink to fade and crack, thereby invalidating it.
By now you are probably a “walking mezuzah guide” and know the sacred parchment will always be placed in a case. The world of cases is a colorful one. The variety is infinite; cases are fashioned from various materials, such as glass, silver, pewter, ceramics… there is just no end! You can also find them in different styles and designs that vary according to local traditions and taste.
When selecting your case, try to choose one that harmonizes with your taste. It will bring you joy that will accompany you daily when entering and leaving your home. It will also strengthen your feeling of connection to your Jewish heritage.