What are those boxes on the doorpost of Jewish homes?

People often notice that on the right-hand doorpost of Jewish homes there is an oblong box hung diagonally. This box is actually called a Mezuzah and is a G-d-given commandment. In the Bible, G-d commands the Jewish people to affix His words to their gateways and the sages interpreted the passage to mean that Jewish people must affix a specific passage from the Bible to each and every doorway in their houses and institutions. The Mezuzah is often misunderstood as being a good luck charm that keeps the evil spirits away whereas it is actually there to serve as a daily reminder of Jewish identity and faith.

What is inside the Mezuzah?

Inside the Mezuzah is a piece of parchment upon which has been inscribed the first two paragraphs of the famous Shema prayer that is recited by Jews twice daily. The paragraphs declare G-d’s Oneness, contain the commandment of affixing His words to the doorposts of the houses and the gates and also teach that Jewish destiny is dependent upon fulfilling the will of G-d.

Some interesting facts about the Mezuzah…

  • The section in the Bible that deals with the Mezuzah appear next to the verses that promise long life to one’s offspring. Both of these verses appear in the parchment of the Mezuzah and it is therefore believed that the Mezuzah helps to protect the health of all the inhabitants of the home, including the children.
  • An additional proof of the guarding properties of the Mezuzah is found in the name of G-d that is written on the outside of each parchment found in a Mezuzah. The name of G-d written on the parchment is Sha-dai and this name is also an abbreviation for the Hebrew words “Shomer D’latei Yisrael,” meaning “Guardian of the Gates of Israel.” The Mezuzah reminds the inhabitants of G-d’s ever-watchful eye over the house.
  • The Jewish commentator, the Alshich, points out that the Mezuzah is placed on all doorposts- including those inside the house and he explains that this is to remind the inhabitants of the sanctity of the Jewish home and how their behavior in private should be the same as their behavior in public.
  • The famous Jewish personality, Maimonides said regarding the Mezuzah that it serves as a constant reminder that nothing is eternal apart from G-d and when a Jew reminds himself of this each time he walks through a doorway it brings him back to proper consciousness and helps him walk on the proper path in his service of G-d.

Uriel Sela, Ajudaica.com – The place to Shop for mezuzahs online!

Photo by Ajudaica.com

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