The positive commandment of affixing a mezuzah to the doorpost applies to dwellings and stores. The commandment is Biblical in nature, but a lot of the minutiae of the commandment has arisen from Rabbinic teachings.
The mezuzah is a small case that contains a parchment inscribed with the famous paragraph of Shema Yisrael. Some of these cases are fairly simple while others are elaborately carved and decorated. Some mezuzahs created over the centuries have earned the status of art and can be found in galleries and museums.
In many traditions, the mezuzah is inscribed with the Hebrew letter Shin, the first letter of one of God’s appellations. Some groups add another inscription, but that custom is more hotly contested.
The Bible only indicates that the mezuzah must be placed on the doorpost; it doesn’t state how the mezuzah should be placed. A debate between two medieval sages, Rash”i and Rabbeinu Tam, as to whether the mezuzah should be placed horizontally or vertically has prompted many Ashkenazic Jews to adopt the custom of affixing it on an angle.
The ink on the parchment tends to crack over time, so most people have their mezuzahs checked every three years or so by a scribe. A scribe is a specially trained calligrapher who knows how to write and maintain Sifrei Torah and other parchment-based sefarim, as well as tefillin, and mezuzahs.
Head on over to Eichler’s Judaica store to check out our selection of beautiful mezuzah cases ranging from simple to elaborately ornate!
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