What is the Mezuzah?
A mezuzah is a written parchment scroll that contains portions from the Torah. We keep this law by attaching the parchment scroll inside one of the specially designed containers or boxes to every doorway in our house. We are reminded on a continual basis of God’s presence in our homes.
The word "mezuzah" [plural: mezuzot] is Hebrew for doorpost. Moses commanded that the words from the Torah should be written on the doorposts of every house in order to keep God’s laws constantly in our minds and in our hearts (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21).
The Spiritual Application
Mezuzah has the root word, zaz, which means “movement.” The mezuzah reminds us of God’s presence in our homes as we move around in the physical world. The mezuzah transforms our ordinary home into one that becomes sanctified – set apart. Our homes become the dwelling place of God and we sanctify His presence by displaying the mezuzah. It is traditional to touch the mezuzah every time we may walk through the doorway as a sign of respect and remembering our commitment to obey God’s Torah.
The mezuzah has an important lesson and application in our lives. The front door of our homes is usually the only side that people can see from the outside to form an opinion about us. God wanted His people to be seen, that they were Israelites. The pagans adopted their own cultures–displaying their own lucky charms and objects on the front door. God wanted His people to be set apart for His purpose–placing the mezuzah on the door showed the gentile nations that these people belonged to God. The mezuzah showed God’s ownership of His people.
The door is the entrance. The mezuzah on the door sanctified the home for God’s use. The entrance of the door will allow anything and everything into our homes unless we sanctify the home–we make a determined effort to allow our home to reflect God’s nature and truth. Every time we pass through the doorway, we are reminded of our commitment to obey God and His commandments. The mezuzah became a daily reminder of God’s presence – something we cannot escape from.
“To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice.... I am the door [mezuzah] of the sheep...If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved” (John 10:3,7,9).
Jesus Christ, a prophet of God acts as a doorkeeper represented by the mezuzah that we place on the doorposts. The doorkeeper opens the door or shows us the way to obey God's commandments. The mezuzah invites God not only into our homes but into our lives. The name Shaddai is written on the parchment scroll ascribing the name of God in our dwellings.
The Hebrew letter Shin, the first letter of Shaddai may be on the front cover. Again, we see the placing of God’s name. The mezuzah is a constant reminder of the Torah. It is one of the many symbols God gave us to remember His covenant, His statutes and Laws throughout all generations.
History of the Mezuzah
First century historian Josephus described the use of the mezuzah as a well-known custom in his day: “They [Jews] are also to inscribe the principal blessings they have received from God upon their doors. (Antiquities 4:8:13). Josephus wrote in his Antiquities, "The greatest benefits of God are to be written on the doors... in order that his benevolent providence may be made known everywhere...”
According to Maimonides, the great 12th-century rabbi and philosopher, “By the commandment of the mezuzah, man is reminded of the unity of God and is aroused to the love of him." The archaeological excavations from Qumran--the ancient site where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found mezuzot.
The New Testament
Jesus instructed His disciples to keep His commandments. He was instructing His followers to observe the Torah. “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 15:17). Jesus knew after his departure from the earth, some would even go so far as to suggest the Torah had been abolished. So He repeated His message: “Do not think that I cam to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but fulfil... Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one title will by no means pass from the Torah till all is fulfilled.” (Matthew 5:17,18).
The Gospel of Barnabas translates this verse in chapter 38: "Jesus said: "Do you think that I have come to destroy the Law and the prophets? Truly I say to you, as God lives, I have not come to destroy it, but rather to observe it. For every prophet has observed the Law of God and all that God by the other prophets has spoken. As God lives, in whose presence my soul stands, no one that breaks one least precept can be pleasing to God, but shall be least in the kingdom of God, for he shall have no part there. Moreover I say to you, that one syllable of the Law of God cannot be broken without the. gravest sin. But I do you to wit that it is necessary to observe that which God says by Isaiah the prophet, with these words: "Wash you and be clean, take away your thoughts from my eyes. 'Truly I say to you, that all the water of the sea will not wash him who with his heart loves iniquities."
The law to write the commandments on the doorposts and on the gateposts were to be a continual reminder of God and His people throughout the generations (Deuteronomy 6:9).
These laws were never abolished, they were never part of any sacrificial system or ceremonial laws of the Levitical priesthood contrary to what is believed today. They are part of the statutes and judgements, the same set of laws that we use to determine clean and unclean animals.
“James wrote, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumbles in one point, he is guilty of all.” (2:10). It is important that we are striving to observe all of the Torah, not simply being selective on what, how and when we choose to obey God. We have to take Jesus at his word, he did not abolish the jots and tittles that we so easily dismiss.
We have dismissed the application of the mezuzah because often times we cannot see the reason behind it–we fail to recognise the practical and spiritual application behind these things. Our sense that everything that belongs in the Old Testament is Jewish is still very much at the core of our thinking. The Jewishness of Jesus is downplayed not only in society, but in our religious institutions. There is a culture of the “Greek mind set” that has to be overcome if we are to understand the gospel of the prophet Jesus.
The Holy Quran
The Holy Quran is full of references to the Torah. It commands the believers to adhere to the Torah. The Quran is to be viewed as a continuation of the God of Israel, with His Torah, the guidance for mankind. Sections of scripture fell into "corruption" so it became necessary to send down a further revelation. This revelation is mankind's final revelation prior to the return of Jesus, whom is the Messiah of Israel. Prophet Muhammed was written in the Torah (Surah 2:76) but his ministry was removed from the scriptures. It is known he came from a Jewish Arabian tribe and spoke highly in favour of the Torah and mentioning the Sabbath (in five separate Surahs).
Surah 2:89, "And when there came to them (the Jews), a Book (this Quran), from God confirming what is with them (the Torah) and the Gospel, although aforetime they had invoked God (for coming of Muhammed)..."
Surah 2:97, "...(this Quran) down to your heart by God's Permission, confirming what came before it (the Torah) and the (Gospel) and a guidance and glad tidings for the believers."
Surah 3:50, "And I have come confirming that which was before me of the Torah".
Surah 5:66, "And if only they acted according to the Torah and the Gospel, and what has now been sent down to them from their Lord (the Quran).
Five of the Ten Commandments of Israel are written into Surah 61:12. Believers are to 1. Worship God, 2. Not to Steal, 3. Not to Commit Adultery, 4. Do not Murder, 5. Not to Bear False Witness.
Muslims whom refuse to act on the instructions of the Prophet Muhammed by refusing to obey the commandments of God outlined in the Torah are disobeying the instructions of the Holy Quran. Allah, is the God of Israel whom gave mankind the commandments in the Torah. This is confirmed in the Holy Quran but often ignored by Islam. Those whom refuse to follow the commandments of God are dishonouring the Holy Quran, and paying lip service to the prophet Jesus, whom instructed his own followers to maintain a Torah lifestyle. The Holy Quran says of those people whom refuse to obey the Torah:
Surah 62:5, "The likeness of those who were entrusted with the (obligation) of the Torah but who subsequently failed in those obligations, is the likeness of a donkey which carries huge burdens of books (but understands nothing from them). How bad is the example of people who deny the evidence of God. And God guides not the people who are the disbelievers."
Those whom refuse to obey the Torah are likened to the donkey carrying huge books of knowledge but fails to understand the importance of those books.
A Typical Mezuzah
The Mezuzah Cover
Mezuzah covers come in all shapes, designs and colours made from wood, metal and acrylic plastic. The scrolls are not included with the cases.
The scrolls or parchment is called a klaf in Hebrew which is hand-written by a Jewish scribe. These are kosher parchments because they have been hand written. There are photocopy alternatives available but they are not kosher. The scroll is placed inside the mezuzah cover which is then placed on the doorpost of every entrance.
Maimonides, who states that "the purpose of the mezuzah is to emphasize the love of God," outlines ten conditions for where a mezuzah must be affixed. The conditions include the size and shape of the structure's entrance, and whether the structure is used permanently. For example, a succah, used for only a week during The Feast of Tabernacles, does not need a mezuzah.
What to do
THESE ARE SOME SIMPLE GUIDELINES TO HELP YOU KEEP THE LAW OF THE MEZUZAH.
The Rabbis ruled that mezuzot are placed in every doorway in the home although the minimum requirement is any door leading to an outside entrance (example, front, back door). It is not uncommon for mezuzot to be fixed to every doorway inside the property except the bathroom.
1. Purchase a kosher mezuzah scroll from any reputable Judaica shop. The scroll will cost between £25-35. A mezuzah container or box must also be purchased, these can cost anything but a good one can be cost less than £25.
2. Place the scroll parchment inside the mezuzah case. The parchment is rolled up from right to left covering up the text.
3. Measure the right hand doorpost into three thirds. The mezuzah case is positioned on the right hand side of the doorpost about one third of the way down from the top of the door. Different traditions will either place the mezuzah in a vertical position or at an angle with the top part of the mezuzah facing the entrance.
4. Before affixing the mezuzah, the traditional blessing is recited whilst holding the mezuzah above the position it will eventually go.
The blessing can be recited in any language.
Hebrew: Baruch Atah Ado-nai, Elo-heinu Melech Ha’Olam Asher Kidishanu B’Mitzvosav, Vitzivanu Likboa Mezuzah.
English: Blessed are you God, King of the World who has sanctified us with his commandments, and has commanded us to affix a mezuzah.
Once the blessing has been recited, fix the mezuzah to the doorpost one third from the top at a slant with the top (containing the Hebrew letters Shin)ש facing the entrance to the door. The mezuzah is affixed to the doorpost with nails, glue or self adhesive tape.