If you are new to Judaism and have recently visited a local community member’s household, the chances are you have found a strange, box-shaped object secured to the door.
Contrary to what you first may have thought, this is no fancy doorbell that you are seeing (although mezuzah cases do come in all sorts of fun and bright designs). It is actually one of the most important components to any Jewish doorway, and if you do not own one yet, then it is definitely in your best interests to look into it.
The Meaning Of A Mezuzah
A mezuzah is important for anyone practising Judaism. Hebrew for “doorpost”, this is a small scroll of parchment with two biblical passages affixed to the doorpost of both the entrance to the home and any other entrance to the interior rooms (except the bathroom).
This distinguishes Jewish homes and reminds inhabitants that this is a holy place which upholds the virtues and laws of the Judaica belief. It also symbolises God’s protection over the home, which is why you may witness inhabitants kiss their fingers and touch the mezuzah as they enter a room, in order to show respect to God.
How To Secure A Mezuzah
Securing a mezuzah to your door is fairly simple, but it is first important to get your hands on a legitimate, handwritten scroll (if you do not know how to procure one, then ask your rabbi for help). This will then be placed into an appropriate case. This can either be homemade or purchased, with a variety of options available in online judaica sites.
After doing this, you will need to then get a measuring tape and pencil and mark the place in which you will be fitting the case itself. Remember, it is not just the front door that you will be affixing the mezuzah to. Every doorway that leads to a 6ft x 6ft room requires a mezuzah, so it is important to walk through the house and pinpoint all of the entrances (including archways between rooms) that you will need to mark up.
Placement And Affixing
Traditionally, a mezuzah is fixed to a doorpost on the right, about a third from the top. To get the perfect height, use tape to measure the height of the doorpost, divide it into three and then measure that amount from the top of the door. To understand left-to-right placement, try to place it according to the person entering a room. For the front door, place it to the right of the person entering from the outside, and for the interior doors, place it in the direction the door opens.
It must be fixed firmly. Position the mezuzah to the outer edge of the doorpost, on a slight slant so that the top is pointing inwards, and then use a hammer and nails to secure it into place. This should ordinarily be done with family (or residents of the household) present, and afterwards you should recite a blessing.
Once this is all done, then your home is fully connected to the Jewish identity and protected by God. Remember, however, that the mezuzah must still be maintained. Ensure to get it checked every few years to ascertain that the scroll inside is intact and the mezuzah is still performing its function.