World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0007852298
Reproduction Date:

Title: Mezuzot  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Hechsher, Places of worship in Bangalore
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia



The parchment of the mezuzah

Halakhic texts relating to this article:
Torah: Deuteronomy 11:20
Mishnah: Menachot 3:7
Babylonian Talmud: Shabbat 32a, Yoma 11a, Menachot 33a,
Mishneh Torah: Tefillin, Mezuzah, veSefer Torah ch 5-6
Shulchan Aruch: Yoreh De'ah 285-291
* Not meant as a definitive ruling. Some observances may be rabbinical, custom or Torah-based.

A mezuzah (Shema Yisrael", beginning with the phrase: "Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is One" A mezuzah is affixed to the doorframe in Jewish homes to fulfill the quill pen. The parchment is then rolled up and placed inside the case.

Affixing the mezuzah

According to halakha, the mezuzah should be placed on the right side of the door or doorpost, in the upper third of the doorpost (i.e., approximately shoulder height),[2] within approximately 3 inches (8 cm) of the doorway opening. Care should be taken to not tear or damage the parchment or the wording on it, as this will invalidate the mezuzah, which is considered Torah. Generally, halakha requires that mezuzot be affixed within 30 days of moving into a rented house or apartment. This applies to Jews living in the Diaspora (i.e., outside of the Land of Israel). For a purchased home or apartment in the Diaspora, or a residence in Israel (owned or rented), the mezuzah is affixed immediately upon moving in. The reason for this difference is that there is an assumption that when a Jew lives in Israel, Israel shall remain his/her permanent residence, whereas a home in the diaspora is temporary.

Where the doorway is wide enough, Ashkenazi Jews tilt the mezuzah so that the top slants toward the room into which the door opens. This is done to accommodate the variant opinions of the medieval Rabbis Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam as to whether it should be placed horizontally or vertically, and also to imply that God and the Torah (which the mezuzah symbolizes) are entering the room. Most Sephardi, Mizrahi and other non-Ashkenazi Jews affix the mezuzah vertically,[3] though Spanish and Portuguese Jews living in countries where the majority of Jews are Ashkenazim usually place it slanting.

The procedure is to hold the mezuzah against the spot upon which it will be affixed, then recite a blessing:

בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יי אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ הָעוֹלָם, אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשַׁנוּ בְּמִצְו‌ֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לִקְבּוֹעַ מְזוּזָה
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha‘olam, asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu likboa‘ mezuzah.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His mitzvot, and commanded us to affix a mezuzah.

Any Jew can recite the blessing provided he or she is old enough to understand the significance of the mitzvah. After the blessing, the mezuzah is attached.

When affixing several mezuzot, it is sufficient to recite the blessing once, before affixing the first one.

Checking the parchment

Many observant Jews from all Jewish denominations have a qualified scribe check the mezuzot parchments for defects (such as small tears or faded lettering) at least twice every seven years.[4][5]

Mezuzah cases

The commandment to affix a mezuzah is widely followed in the Jewish world, even by Jews who are not religiously observant. While the important part of the mezuzah is the klaf, or parchment, and not the case itself, designing and producing mezuzah cases has been elevated to an art form over the ages. Mezuzah cases are produced from a wide variety of materials, from silver and precious metals, to wood, stone, ceramics, pewter, and even polymer clay. Some dealers of mezuzah cases will provide or offer for sale a copy of the text that has been photocopied onto paper; this is not a Kosher (valid) mezuzah, which must be handwritten onto a piece of parchment by a qualified scribe.

Additional inscriptions

It is very customary to write two inscriptions on the back of the parchment:

  • the Hebrew word שדי (Shaddai)
  • the phrase "כוזו במוכסז כוזו"

Shaddai, ["Almighty"] one of the biblical names of God, also serves here as an acronym for Shomer Daltot Yisrael, "Guardian of Israel's doors". Many mezuzah cases are also marked with the Hebrew letter ש (Shin), for Shaddai.

"כוזו במוכסז כוזו" is a Caesar cipher — a one letter shift — of the third, fourth, and fifth words of the Shema, "Adonai, Eloheinu, Adonai", "The Lord, our God, the Lord"; it is written on the back of the case, opposite the corresponding words on the front.[6] This inscription dates from the 11th century and is found amongst the Hasidei Ashkenaz (medieval German Jewish mystics).

According to the Sephardic custom (minhag), the phrase "כוזו במוכסז כוזו" is prohibited, and only the Hebrew word שדי (Shaddai) is to be written on the back of the mezuzah. This practice is supported by the Shulchan Aruch and the writings of the Rambam. The Ashkenazi custom of writing both phrases, however, was supported in the writings of the Remo.Template:Yoreh De'ah 288:15

Legal battles in the U.S.

The Jewish practice of affixing a mezuzah to the entranceway of a residential unit[7] has been rarely challenged in the United States or Canada,[8] and until recently there was no case law precedent on the subject.


In Chicago in 2001, the condominium association at the 378-unit Shoreline Towers adopted a rule banning “mats, boots, shoes, carts or objects of any sort… outside unit entrance doors”,[9] which by board vote in 2004 was interpreted to be absolute.[10] Relying on the Association rule, during 2004 Shoreline Towers management removed the hallway mezuzot of condominium tenants, resulting in letters from Jewish groups which unsuccessfully protested the rule. Complaints by Shoreline Towers tenants were subsequently filed with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations, Illinois Attorney General, and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, alleging housing discrimination on the basis of religion[11] and seeking damages. Meanwhile, a newspaper report indicated that Shoreline Towers was not the sole condominium association in Chicago with such a restriction, although one of them soon agreed to modify its rule.[12]

On reading a news report of the mezuzah dispute at Shoreline Towers, Chicago alderman Burton Natarus, like other Jewish observers of the development,[13] was upset by the ban. He sat down and drafted an amendment to the city’s Municipal Code which made it illegal for a renter or owner of an apartment, house, or condo to be prohibited from "placing or affixing a religious sign, symbol or relic on the door, door post or entrance."[14] Although there was opposition to such a move,[15] it became law in Chicago that December.[16] The first such legislation in North America, it included a maximum $500 fine for its violation.

Notwithstanding this legislation, court action continued concerning separate complaints against Shoreline Towers for its rule affecting mezuzot. In 2006, a federal court judge determined that the condominium association’s rule did not violate the Federal Fair Housing Act;[17] the district court upheld the opinion on appeal in 2008;[18] in 2009, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago reversed the 2008 decision,[19] and the case proceeded. Meanwhile during the dispute, records of the Chicago Jewish Star (which had been reporting on the case) were unsuccessfully subpoenaed,[20] and for the first time Illinois’ anti-SLAPP legislation was applied.[21] In 2011, a confidential settlement to the Shoreline Towers disputes was finally achieved.[22]

In 2006, a more narrowly-focused amendment to the state’s Condominium Property Act was initiated by Illinois Senator Ira Silverstein, the first such state law.[23]


In 2006, a woman in a 16-story condo building in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was instructed to remove the mezuzah from her hallway unit and threatened with a fine. After a lengthy legal battle, the condo association was found guilty of discrimination. In 2008, House Bill 995, an amendment to the Florida Condominium Act modeled on the Illinois state legislation, became law.[24]


In Texas in 2007, a couple living in the Madison Park area of Houston was instructed to “remove the item attached to your door frame” to avoid violating association rules.[25] A legal battle ensued, during which a U.S. District Court judge ruled in 2008 on behalf of the condo association. Subsequently the couple turned to Texas House of Representatives member Garnet F. Coleman. His bill introduced in 2009 was not adopted, but in June 2011 a slightly revised version (HB1278) was signed into law by Texas Governor Rick Perry.[26]


A federal law to prevent mezuzah bans nationwide was proposed in 2008 by U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler (H.R. 6932). It never became law.[27]



External links

  • Mezuzah Scroll Klaf Video
  • Mezuzah Scroll Cases Mezuzah scrolls are stored in a case such as these.
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.