The Mezuzah is one of the Mitzvot to which the Jewish people attach particular value. It is rare to find a house or business owned by a Jew whose door does not have a mezuzah attached. Everyone feels their need. This is the expression of the deep bond between the Jew and the Torah, between the Jew and his Creator.
The Mezuzah has several meanings. It represents a symbol: here is a Jewish house! Moreover, it constantly reminds the Jew that he has a mission in this world: when he enters and when he leaves, he sees the Mezuzah, possibly kisses it – just as he kisses a Sefer Torah ( the sacred Torah scroll) - but above all remember that he enjoys Gd's protection.
However, the primary purpose of the Mezuzah is to make holiness reside in the home. It was written by a Sofere, a skilled scribe who studied for years to learn the details of the laws of the Mezuzah. The Mezuzah is written on a parchment made from the skin of a kosher animal and contains passages from the Torah. When a Jew attaches a Mezuzah to the door of his house, he places his house and everything in it under the protection of the Creator. Thus, this house becomes a mini sanctuary for the Divine Presence.
This allows us to understand that the essential purpose of the Mezuzah is to protect the inhabitants of this house. Even when they leave the house! This is what is written in the verse: "The Lord will protect your going out and your coming from now and forever". (Tehillim – Psalms 121:8).
All of this is only real though when the Mezuzah is kosher, of course! A Mezuzah that has become incorrect – for one reason or another – or, even worse, that has never been kosher, will lose this saving power. This is why it is of the utmost importance to ensure the validity of his Mezuzah which will continue to protect the Jew and his house but above all which will cause the sanctity of the divine Presence to reside in this house.
Mezuzahs are placed at the door of every room in the house, except the bathroom.
The Mezuzah reminds us that Gd protects the home. Indeed, one of Gd's names - Cha-daye- appears on the back of the parchment: it is an acronym for the Hebrew words meaning "Keeper of the Gates of God." 'Israel'. The Mezuzah placed correctly at the door of the house or workplace protects the inhabitants, whether they are inside or outside.
For this, the Mezuzah must be kosher, so it is checked from time to time, at least twice in seven years, but it is recommended to bring it regularly - every year or every two years - to a qualified scribe to make sure. Many people have the reflex to have their Mezuzah checked in case of illness or other problem in life – may Gd preserve.
"And thou shalt inscribe them upon the lintels of thy doors and of thy gates" (Deuteronomy 6:9 and 11:20).
The Mitzvah of the Mezuzah clearly tells us that the synagogue and the house of study are not the only holy places for Judaism. Indeed, every house inhabited by Jews can and must become a mini sanctuary and will truly become a dwelling place for the Almighty who can make His Presence reside there.
This little parchment scroll affixed to the door of every Jewish house and to the door of every room demonstrates that Gd protects all who are there, physically and spiritually. This abode is now truly "a sanctuary to Gd.God" as it says in the Psalms (121:8): "The Lord will protect your going out and your coming, now and forever"!
Traces of a Mezuzah are sometimes found on old houses that belonged to Jews in previous generations and this discovery is always overwhelming
This simple but fundamental mitzvah contributes thus to the fulfillment of the ultimate purpose of Creation.
The sanctity of the Jewish house is enhanced by the Mezuzah: it testifies to divine protection and reminds all, residents and visitors, that this house is a sanctuary for the Almighty.
What is the Mezuzah?
On the parchment - contained in a more or less elaborate case - a qualified scribe has written by hand with a quill pen the first two paragraphs of the Shema Israel. The first recalls the Oneness of G‑d and our duty to serve Him – and Him alone – with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our capacities, physical, intellectual, financial and moral. The second expresses the essential idea of Judaism that G‑d rewards those who scrupulously observe His commandments and reserves the right to act as is proper towards those who do not keep them. Thus, the Mezuzah placed on the door of a house reminds the Jew of his belief in G‑d and his commitment to perform Mitzvot inside but also outside the house.
On the back of the Mezuzah appears one of the Names of Gd: Cha-daye whose letters form the acrostic of the words "Chomère Daltote Israel", Guardian of the Gates of Israel. The Midrash reports: "Rabbi Yossi son of Yehuda declares: "A door on which is placed a Mezuzah, neither the angel of evil, nor Satane nor any evil can approach it because the Creator protects her. Even when the destroying angel wanted to strike down, he would see the Name of G‑d and flee as it is written: The destroying angel cannot enter your houses to strike down. Man must therefore pay particular attention to the Mitzvah of the Mezuzah ( Zohar 'Hadach - Ruth chapter 4) ».
How to place it?
Before attaching a Mezuzah to one's door, the following blessing should be said:
Baruch Ata A-do-nai Elo-henu Mele'h Haolam Acher Kideshanu Bemitsvotav Vetsivanu Likboa Mezuzah.
Blessed are You, Lord our G‑d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His Commandments and commanded us to fix a Mezuzah.
If more than one Mezuzah is placed at the same time, only one blessing will be said.
The Mezuzah must be attached:
- In a tilted position, the upper part towards the inside of the room.
- To the right of the door, in the direction of the entrance.
- At the bottom of the upper third of the height of the door.(1)
- On the outside frame of the door.
Who and when?
It is an obligation for both men and women to place a Mezuzah on their doorsteps. Both the owner and the tenant or the person occupying the premises free of charge are bound by this Mitzvah.
In Israel, this obligation applies immediately. In the Diaspora, only the owner is required to do so from the purchase of the house. The tenant is only obliged to do so after having occupied the premises for thirty days. This period begins as soon as he has had a meal or spent the night there.However, one who pays a deposit for a year or more should – according to some decision-makers – fix the Mezuzah as soon as the premises are occupied and not thirty days after. The commonly accepted practice in this case is to fix a Mezuzah immediately - without pronouncing the blessing – then removing it after thirty days and putting it back with a blessing.
If you build another room in a rented or borrowed house that you have already occupied for more than thirty days, you will attach the Mezuzah as soon as the room is completely finished.
The end of the thirtieth day begins at nightfall, so at the very beginning of the 31st day. If the 31st day falls on a Shabbat or Yom Tov (a Jewish holiday), the Mezuzah will already be fixed on the 30th day with the blessing. If the 30th day is also Yom Tov, it will be fixed on the 29th day with blessing.
A seasonal rental does not require the installation of a Mezuzah.
Two Jewish associates, tenants or owners of a dwelling, have the obligation to fix a Mezuzah. However, if one of the two partners is not Jewish, the obligation to affix the Mezuzah only applies if the non-Jew does not occupy the premises. Otherwise, a mezuzah will be fixed but without pronouncing the blessing.
A house that serves both Jews and non-Jews is subject to the obligation of the Mezuzah provided that it is not at risk of being damaged, defiled or stolen.
The immense value of the Mezuzah
The Torah is the means by which the Creator allows His will to be carried out. And only a people like the Jewish people can unveil the divine light in the material world by using all the resources of the latter to express holiness. Thus, for example, when a Jew raises an animal, uses its skin to make parchment on which he will write (or have written) the first two paragraphs of the Shema and which he will attach this Mezuzah at his door, he will have sanctified:
- his house and everything in it
- the animal whose skin he used
- the land from which the animal derived its sustenance: grass and plants
- the minerals from which the substances needed to make the ink are extracted
- the money with which he bought or rented his house etc.
All these steps will have served him to convey the deep Will of Gd, present since the beginning of Creation.
These qualities of the Mezuzah should not lead one to believe that it is a talisman, a fetish or an amulet as declared by the Rambam (Maimonides – Laws of the Mezuzah – 5: 4
The fact remains that the immense value of the Mezuzah is not only its ability to protect the Jewish people wherever they are, but above all the fact that it allows them to accomplish a mitzvah and thus attaching oneself to Gd, the Protector of Israel. Much more than the material benefit of security, the Jew above all seeks rapprochement with his Creator by accomplishing His will in this material world thus sanctified.
Source: “Mezuzah Bank” European Lubavitch Office