What is a mezuzah?
A mezuzah is a piece of parchment that has the shema prayer hand written by a scribe using a quill and specific ink. It is very similar to the way the Sefer Torah is written. The
letters shin ש daled ד and yud י (one of the names of G-d) are written on the outside. These letters also correlate to the words “shomer delatot Yisroel” which translates to “The guardian of the doors of Israel.”
The mezuzah should be attached to the bottom of the top third of a door post on the right side (if entering from the street.) It can be attached using nails, screws, mounting tape or even glue (though I do not recommend it).
According to the ashkenaz tradition it is placed on the door post with a slight slant. The Sephardic tradition is that the mezuzah should be placed vertically. The letters written on the outside of the scroll should also face out and upright.
- Here’s the Hebrew text: בָּרוּך אַתָּה אַדָנָ-י אֶלוֹהֵ-ינוּ מֶלֶך הָעוֹלָם אַשֶר קְדִשָנוּ בְּמִצְווֹתָיו וְצִיווָנוּ לִקְבּוֹעַ מְזוּזָה
- Here’s how it sounds: Baruch Atah A-do-nai Elo-heinu Melech haolam asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu likboa mezuzah.
- Here’s what it means: Blessed are you, G‑d our G‑d, King of the Universe, Who has made us holy with His commandments and commanded us to affix a mezuzah.
At least twice in seven years, we take down our mezuzahs and have them professionally checked to ascertain that they are intact. The scribe examines the scrolls to ensure that no letters have been cracked or erased and that the mezuzah is still good. Our vigilance keeps our mezuzahs performing their function: bringing holiness, protection and merit to our home.