Everything you need to know about the mezuzah

Mezuzahs hang on every Jewish doorpost across the world, but how much do you really know about the iconic little boxes?

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A mezuzah on a doorpost instantly shows you one thing: that home is a Jewish one. One of Judaism’s best-known icons, the mezuzah plays a significant role in Jewish superstition as well as halacha.

What is a Mezuzah?

A mezuzah is a parchment scroll held in a decorative case. It is attached to the doorposts in a Jewish home. The mezuzah scroll is made from the skin of a kosher animal, usually a lamb or a goat. Specially selected verses from the Bible – two of the Shema prayer’s three paragraphs – are inscribed onto the parchment perfectly, using a plant-based ink prepared especially for this purpose. This must be done by a qualified scribe to ensure that the parchment – klaf in Hebrew – is kosher.

This scroll is housed in a case. The cases are often ornate and decorative. While the term “mezuzah” technically refers to the parchment scroll, it has come to mean the scroll and its case together. The idea of hiddur mitzvah means that we try to fulfil God’s commands in the most beautiful way possible, so we use specially designed, beautiful cases. Mezuzot are attached to doorposts to fulfil the Biblical command in Deuteronomy 6:9: “You shall write them upon the doorposts of your homes and upon your gates”. You can read a full mezuzah fact file here.

Fact or Fiction?

  • The mezuzah has to hang at an angle
    This is fiction – that has become fact over time. When the early Rabbis used the above verse to write down the laws of hanging a mezuzah, they disagreed on how exactly it should be placed on the doorpost. Some said that it should be affixed vertically; others argued for a horizontal placement. The compromise reached was the slant on which we now attach our mezuzot – somewhere between the two.
  • Mezuzahs are a sign of good luck
    Many people believe that mezuzot are a sign of good luck. Some go so far as to believe that the little scrolls have amuletic properties, and that their presence in a home will protect its inhabitants from the 'Evil Eye'.
    While it’s true that we are very careful to check that our mezuzahs are kosher, there’s no direct link between the mezuzah and our safety. That doesn’t mean it’s not true though: there is ample anecdotal evidence linking stories of people’s rescue and salvation to the quality of their mezuzot.

Mezuzah Shopping Guide

As one of Judaism’s most recognizable motifs, mezuzahs make a great housewarming present or a wonderful Jewish wedding gift. There are a great range of styles available, made from a stunning range of materials in a fantastic array of colors and sizes. The parchment scrolls are available in a range of sizes, so you can find the perfect fit for your case and home.

If you’re shopping for someone else, try to stick to something classic with neutral colors: if you want your gift to be used, it should match the recipients’ color scheme. Explore Jerusalem stone mezuzah cases. The warm, golden tones match everything, and the iconic stone is a beautiful way to add the Holy City to any home!

Mezuzah cases are a brilliant way to add a sense of personal style to your Judaica collection. That means that if you have more classic taste, there are a rich choice of sterling silver mezuzot to choose from. People who love contemporary Israeli design will adore modern, quirky designs by celebrated Israeli designer Shraga Landesman. Or, if your friends are classical art aficionados, surprise them with spectacular Chagall mezuzah cases. Richly colored and beautifully designed, they will make truly amazing artistic gifts.