6 April 2016

Mezuzah Hebrew: מְזוּזָה‎ "doorpost"

Many different types of metal mezuzot מְזוּזוֹת cases on sale at the Antiques & Vintage Market at Dizengoff Square

If you are new to Israel then it pays to be observant.  You can glean a lot from looking, watching and observing.  Last year, I noticed these small oblong shaped fixtures on doorposts.  At the time we were looking for accommodation to rent so I asked our estate agent who was always keen to impart her knowledge on Judaism and Israel.  She explained to me that they were called Mezuzah and it was traditional for them to be affixed to the doorposts of Israeli homes.  She told me that inside the oblong container there was a hand-written parchment with holy scripture.  It is placed at the entrance of a door or building in order to bless the premises and to keep it safe.   Apparently, "the parchment is prepared by a qualified scribe (a "sofer stam") who has undergone many years of meticulous training, and the verses are written in black indelible ink with a special quill pen. The parchment is then rolled up and placed inside the case."  The mezuzot מְזוּזוֹת cases on sale at the Antiques & Vintage Market at Dizengoff Square do not come with the parchment and do not contain anything. 

"Many observant Jews from all Jewish denominations have a qualified scribe check the mezuzot parchments for defects (such as small tears or faded lettering) at least twice every seven years. These men are very important and are generally found among Orthodox Jews. These men are known as soferim (singular: sofer). A sofer is needed to make new mezuzot parchments which are in accordance with Jewish Law."

 "The commandment to affix a mezuzah is widely followed in the Jewish world, even by Jews who are not religiously observant. While the important part of the mezuzah is the klaf, or the parchment, and not the case itself, designing and producing mezuzah cases has been elevated to an art form over the ages. Mezuzah cases are produced from a wide variety of materials, from silver and precious metals, to wood, stone, ceramics, pewter, and even polymer clay.  Some dealers of mezuzah cases will provide or offer for sale a copy of the text that has been photocopied onto paper; this is not a Kosher (valid) mezuzah, which must be handwritten onto a piece of parchment by a qualified scribe."

I have also noticed observant Jews touching the mezuzah which is affixed to the doorpost with their right hand before entering buildings.  This I believe is done as a sign of respect.

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