Mezuzah FAQs

I just got my mezuzah checked. Do I need to recite the blessing when I re-hang it?

The short answer to your question is—maybe! I will try to help you sort out what is required in your particular situation.

If the Mezuzah you took down was found to be not Kosher, and you are putting up a new one in its place, you should certainly recite a blessing. If you took the mezuzah down in order to have it checked, and your intention was to put it back up right away, and you did, then it is questionable whether you should make a blessing when you put it back up.

According to another opinion, if you put the mezuzah back up the same day as you took it down, you don’t need to make another blessing, but if it is after one day has passed, you should.

So what should you do in such an instance? Either you can ask your personal rabbi for a ruling, or in case of doubt it is better to “play it safe” and abstain from reciting the blessing.

Sources: Sefer Otzar Sefer Torah, Tefillin and Mezuzahs, by Rabbi Yisrael Asher Krauz. Yerushalayim, 1983.

 

What should I know before purchasing a mezuzah?

A Mezuzah must be bought from a trustworthy, G-d fearing vendor.

An authentic mezuzah is a hand-written Hebrew text on a parchment scroll. It takes a lot of effort and expensive materials to make an authentic mezuzah; MSRP begins at about $35.001. The nicer the mezuzah the more time and attention the scribe put into ensuring that the calligraphy is impeccable and beautiful, the costlier it will be. It is preferable to splurge on a beautiful parchment, rather than spending the money on an ornamental casing. After all, a machine’s effectiveness is primarily dependant on the strength of its engine.

Unfortunately there are many counterfeit mezuzahs flooding the market.

There are literally thousands of laws involved in writing an authentic mezuzah, and unfortunately there are many counterfeit Mezuzahs flooding the market. Many of these fakes are printed instead of hand-written; some of them are made of paper, not parchment; and others are hastily written, resulting in a shoddy product which is barely legible.

If in doubt ask your Rabbi to guide you to a trustworthy mezuzah vendor.

 

When do I need to put up a mezuzah?

One does not affix Mezuzahs to a residence which will be occupied for less than thirty days. So enjoy your vacation, and don’t worry about putting up a mezuzah in your hotel room. Also because of this reason, a mezuzah is not affixed to the doorway of a Sukkah, unless it is a permanent structure which stands year-long.

When moving into a residence that will be occupied for more than 30 days (i.e. renting, leasing, or buying a house etc), the time for putting up the mezuzah will depend on where you live: outside of Israel, one does not affix mezuzahs until day 30. In Israel, the mezuzah is affixed immediately.

Sources: Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 286:22

 

How large must a room be in order to require a mezuzah?

A room must be sizeable enough to be inhabitable in order to require a Mezuzah. The Halachic determination is that a room which is less than four cubits by four cubits, which equals to 76 x 76 inches, is exempt from a mezuzah.

A walk-in closet is often large enough to require a mezuzah, so get out your measuring tape and check!

A room, whose width is less than 76 inches, but its length grants the room the sum space of 5776 square inches, is the subject of disagreement between the early halachic authorities. Therefore, such a room should have its own mezuzah, but a blessing is not recited when it is affixed.

 

Which doorways require a mezuzah?

We are required to affix a Mezuzah to the right-hand. doorpost of every doorway of a Jewish residence. This includes storage rooms, garages and basements rooms. Even a doorway which is rarely used or the entranceway of the courtyard of a Jewish home requires a mezuzah.

Only a house which is inhabited by a Jew requires a mezuzah. A Jewish-owned home which is rented to a non-Jew does not require a mezuzah. Conversely, a Jewish residence must have Mezuzahs even if the house is owned by a non-Jew.

There is a dispute amongst the Halachic authorities whether a doorway without a door requires a mezuzah. We, therefore, affix a mezuzah to such a doorway, but without reciting a blessing.

Only respectable living areas are graced by mezuzahs. This excludes bathrooms, bathhouses, and mikvahs.

A Jewish owned store or office requires a mezuzah. An office which is owned by a non-Jew, but is used by a Jew for business purposes requires a mezuzah only if the office is used exclusively by Jews. A rabbi should be consulted whether a blessing is recited before affixing a mezuzah to a workplace doorway.

Sources: Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 289:2, 286:1-2, 291:2, 286:15, 286:4-5 and Minchat Yitzchak Vol. 4 Siman 89.

 

Why is it important to have KOSHER Mezuzahs?

There is no magic in the ink or parchment of the Mezuzah. A mezuzah is special because it serves as a conduit for Divine blessings for a home and its inhabitants, and it is only effective as such when it meets the specifications dictated by G-d in the Torah—both the Written and Oral laws.

It is sort of like a web address which is a portal to specific information you are seeking. As we all know all too well, it only serves as a portal if the URL is typed into the address field exactly as it is supposed to be. If it has even one extra or missing letter it is no longer a portal to the information you were seeking, but rather some random useless letters on your computer screen.

It is sort of like a web address which is a portal to specific information you are seeking

There are many scribes who are certified to inspect Mezuzahs to see if they are Kosher.

Check Your Mezuzah.

 

Must a mezuzah be nailed or screwed into the doorpost?          

Anyway that it holds, with a nail, a screw, tape or glue. Two sided tape works too.

[Note: There are Halachic authorities who maintain that it is preferable to actually nail (or screw) the mezuzah into the doorpost, thus making it a permanent fixture of the home. If possible, that is the ideal way to affix the mezuzah.]

 

Why do we kiss the Mezuzah when we walk in and out of a room?

It is a sign of respect and affection to kiss the Mezuzah when you pass by.

The Talmud tells the story of the famous convert to Judaism, Onkelos the son of Kalonymos, who was a nephew of the Roman Emperor Titus. Titus was furious to hear that his nephew had converted, so he sent advisors to convince Onkelos to return to the Roman religion. Onkelos so convinced the advisors with his response that all of the Emperor’s advisors also decided to convert. Titus then sent legionnaires to arrest Onkelos and commanded them not speak at all to Onkelos. When the legionnaires walked Onkelos out of his house, he smiled and kissed the mezuzah on the doorpost. Observing the soldiers’ bewilderment, Onkelos explained that a mortal king needs guards outside his house. The King of Kings, on the other hand, is Himself guarding His servants outside their homes. As King David wrote in his Psalms: “G-d shall guard thy going out and thy coming in from now and forevermore.” Psalm 121, 8. Onkelos’ words made such a profound impact on the legionnaires that they also converted to Judaism.

 

Should I take the mezuzahs from my old apartment to my new home?

When moving to a new residence, if the people who are moving into your old home are Jewish, then the Mezuzahs must be left for them. If the new occupants are not Jewish, you should take the mezuzahs – preferably have them checked by a scribe to ensure that they are still Kosher – and affix them on the doorposts of your new home.

Hopefully you are moving into a larger home with many more rooms than your old place, and will need to purchase many more mezuzahs for all the extra doors.

Just a reminder: Every doorway in your new home requires a Mezuzah (aside for restrooms and small closets).

 

Why is the mezuzah affixed at an angle?

There are those that maintain that the Mezuzah must be upright, but there are those that say that it  should be lying flat. Ashkenazim affix the mezuzah at an angle in order to satisfy both opinions. Sephardim affix it straight upright.

 

Why must I have a scribe check my Mezuzah regularly?

For a Mezuzah to be Kosher, all the letters in the scroll must be complete. Due to humidity and other factors, letters can fade or crack, rendering un-kosher an originally beautiful mezuzah.

A mezuzah must be inspected by a professional scribe every three and a half years.

 

What’s the purpose of a Mezuzah?

The purpose of affixing a Mezuzah is to fulfill a Mitzvah – a Divine Commandment.

One of the purposes for this Mitzvah is to facilitate other Mitzvahs: As a Mitzvah hanging visibly on our doors the Mezuzah is a constant reminder that our homes and everything therein, belongs to G-d, and must therefore be used properly.

The Mezuzah also serves as protection for the entire home. On every Mezuzah is inscribed G-d’s name, “Shadai,” which is an acronym for “Shomer Daltot Yisroel,” the Guardian of the doors of Israel.

 

Why is the mezuzah attached to the right doorpost?

The Talmud derives from a verse that the Mezuzah must be placed on the side which you encounter first when you enter. The average person steps first with the right foot and then the left foot.

According to Kabbalah, the right side represents kindness and the left side is symbolic of divine severity. Therefore the mezuzah, which is intended to bring G-d’s blessings and protection upon the house, is placed on the right doorpost.

Sources: Menachos 34a. Deuteronomy 11:20. Kings II 12:10.

 

What’s inside and on the outside of the Mezuzah?

Inside the Mezuzah case is the actual Mezuzah.

The Mezuzah is a rolled up scroll of parchment containing two passages from the Torah: The Shema, and Vehayah.

These portions can be found in your prayer book, as these sections are part of the daily morning and evening prayers. Click here to view these passages online.

On the outside of the mezuzah scroll is written G-d’s name, “Shadai,” which is an acronym for “ShOmer Daltot Yisroel,” the ‘Guardian of the doors of Israel’. (Hence the Hebrew letter ‘shin’ also appears on many mezuzah holders, as an initial of G-d’s Name written inside.)

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