(English Index)

(Original Index)




Mezuzah (Hebrew word, literally "doorpost"; plural mezuzot) refers to one of the 613 commandments in Judaism, which requires that a small parchment (klaf) inscribed with two sections from the Torah's Book of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Deuteronomy 11:13-21 be affixed to each doorpost and gate in a Jewish home and business. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21 are two of four passages used in Tefillin.

Thus the word mezuzah can refer to any of the following:

  1. Simply a doorpost of a permanent door, gate or arch.

  2. The special parchment with the required Hebrew inscriptions.

  3. The small case or box that typically covers the parchment. The case generally features the Hebrew letter shin inscribed on its upper exterior. Artistic mezuzah cases are often given as gifts for weddings and other special occasions.

The Jewish law (Halakha) prescribes in detail the affixing of mezuzot on doorposts. Since almost every Jewish home has a mezuzah on its front doorpost, it has historically been a way of recognizing a Jewish home.

The wording on the mezuzah's parchment consists of the two Biblical paragraphs which mention the mezuzah. These two paragraphs are also part of the Shema Yisrael ("Hear O Israel") prayer, and appear on the parchments inside phylacteries (Teffilin).

As the Scripture indicates, the mezuzah is meant to remind people of the commandment to love God and walk with Him as we go about our daily tasks. Whenever religious Jews enter a house, they touch the mezuzah with their right hand and then kiss their fingers.