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Is It OK to Wear a Mezuzah Necklace?

Is It OK to Wear a Mezuzah Necklace?

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I’d like to wear a necklace with a mezuzah pendant. I know mezuzot are meant for doorways, but are there any issues with wearing one?

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The Talmud explains in a number of places that a mezuzah affords protection.1 However, as you mention, the mitzvah of mezuzah is indeed to affix it to your doorway. Using it for any other purpose is in no way the fulfillment of the mitzvah. That said, there are records of people using mezuzot as amulets since ancient times. In fact, the Mishnah mentions that some had the custom to carry a hollowed-out staff containing a mezuzah for protection.2

Let’s explore the protective powers of the mezuzah.

On the outside of the mezuzah scroll, G‑d’s name Shaddai (ש-ד-י) is written. The Kabbalists explain that, in addition to being G‑d’s name, it is also the acronym for שומר דלתות ישראל, “guardian of the doors of Israel,” alluding to the protection that the mezuzah affords.3 In light of this, there is a lively discussion in post-Talmudic responsa whether protection can be obtained only through a properly placed mezuzah in fulfillment of the mitzvah, or whether it can come from any mezuzah.

Many are of the opinion that there is indeed some measure of protection from the mezuzah itself, even when not affixed to a doorway.4 Accordingly, the Lubavitcher Rebbe advised certain individuals who were dealing with health issues to carry a mezuzah with them (obviously in addition to having kosher mezuzot properly affixed to all the doorways of the house).5

(It should be noted that even when the mezuzah is on the doorway, the protection it affords is not necessarily quantifiable.6)

So yes, people have been known to carry mezuzot with them. But is it proper to have the mezuzah hanging around your neck?

Life Hanging in the Balance

Expounding on the verse “And your life will hang in suspense before you . . .,”7 the Talmud explains that this refers to one who hangs up his tefillin on a peg, which is seen as disrespectful.8 Would hanging a mezuzah around your neck be equally disrespectful?

Two preeminent halachic decisors of the last century, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein9 and Rabbi Ovadia Yosef,10 both explain that the Talmud’s caution against hanging sacred items does not apply to hanging them from one's body. Indeed, in ancient times, the Jewish kings were commanded to constantly have a Torah scroll with them, so they would hang the scrolls from their arms.11

On a Practical Level

Wearing a mezuzah necklace presents some challenges. Unless it is covered by two opaque layers, a mezuzah (or any other sacred writing, for that matter) may not be brought into a bathroom or any unclean place,12 or be present in a room during intimate relations.13 Practically, this means that if you were to wear a mezuzah necklace, you would need to make sure to take it off anytime you walked into the bathroom or even just walked through an unclean place.

Though wearing a mezuzah necklace is permissible and may afford some protection, it is important not to lose sight of the mitzvah itself. Kosher mezuzot affixed properly throughout your home are much more potent than any necklace. To check if your mezuzot are kosher and affixed properly, visit our mezuzah mini-site and/or contact your local competent rabbi.

Footnotes
1.
See Talmud, Avodah Zarah 11a, Menachot 33b; see also Tur, Yoreh Deiah 285.
2.
See Mishnah, Keilim 17:16, and Tosfot Yom Tov ad loc.
3.
See Siddur HaArizal, Kavonot Mezuzah; Mishnat Chassidim 3:9; Kol Bo Hilchot Mezuzah; Darkei Moshe, Yoreh Deiah 288; see also Zohar 2:36a and Likutei Levi Yitzchak ad loc, where he explains the Zohar was alluding to this acronym (see, however, Likutei Sichot, vol. 19, p. 121, f.n. 7, for a discussion whether the Zohar was indeed alluding to this acronym).
4.
See for example, Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 2:141; Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in Halichot Olam, vol. 8, p. 216.
5.
See, for example, Igrot Kodesh, vol. 4, p. 159; vol. 6, p. 254; vol. 10, p. 239.
6.
See, for example, Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 2:141.
8.
Talmud, Berachot 24a.
9.
Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 2:141.
10.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in Halichot Olam, vol. 8, p. 216.
11.
See Talmud, Sanhedrin 22a.
12.
Although it is technically permitted to enter such a place with a mezuzah if it has a double opaque covering, ideally one should not do so, so that it be distinguished as a holy item. See Igrot Moshe, Yoreh Deah 2:141:3.
13.
See Magen Avraham, Shulchan Aruch, Orech Chaim 40:2; Shulchan Aruch Harav 40:5-6; Mishnah Berurah 40:7.
Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin responds to questions for Chabad.org's Ask the Rabbi service.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many Chabad.org pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Uziel Addison, tx November 6, 2017

This is interesting because I can't read the parchment but I would assume that the person who wrote it would have been aware of its use and would have protected the name of Heshem by ommiting or abriviating it.... would this be permissible or would the intent of the writing hold true and would be forbidden to enter the bathroom still...? Reply

Kyle Kingston ny May 6, 2017

Also don't let it get wet. I wore mine in the shower without thinking and the tiny scroll was ruined! Then off to the Genizah! Reply

Sarah Masha WB MI USA December 20, 2016

chad, then general Chad,
Homeless people do not have doorways, so they don't need a mezuzah. Neither do people who live in homes without doorways. Flippant as this sounds, I once lived in a place where we only needed two outside mezuzahs, the rest of the space was divided only by doorways and curves, no doorways with lintels. Very odd feeling, but totally kosher.

For the general question, I would suggest that the questioner (lady) asking if there is some reason (a specific mezuzah?) she wants to wear a mezuzah? There are so many styles of other options (star, chai, hamsa, her name or other word in hebrew) that surely she could find a different item that will please her. Reply

Hersh Goldman Swampscott, MA, )1907 December 18, 2016

"Resoponse to Hersh Goldman's Reply" about covering mezzuzah I thank Simcha for jumping in with his thoughtful reply to my question. It sounds like he has given mezuzzah matters a lot of study. I am still not completely decided on this attitude toward bedroom mezzuzot.
I know and have known that a person (like myself for instance)traveling a long distance by public transportation to visit and stay over at someone's house, can double-bag his tefillin or pocket-siddur and carry it in with him into the station-bathroom to avail himself of a station's public restroom. But in the case of a home bedroom (and a bedroom is a cleaner place than a bathroom), if we effectively seal-off the sanctity of the bedroom mezzuzzah from outside contact (by double-covering it) - what is the point in having the mezzuzzah on the bedroom doorway at all? Are we expected to tape 2 hankies over the mezzuzah right before haveing sex and then after the act going out to remove the cloth coverings so the mezzuzzah can become re-connected, and start working again? Reply

Chad miami beach December 16, 2016

What does one do when they are homeless? Reply

Anonymous December 15, 2016

Follow up No, I meant the actual mezuzah, not the cover, a "decorative version" but with first line of the shema written out. I assume double wrap is okay then. Reply

Mlk Brockton Ma December 15, 2016

Mezuzah Don't believe that a Mezuzah which I have on my front door. Or wearing a Jewish Star or Mezuzah is a magical cure all for problems illnesses or any other than we would be cured of all problems . My husband would be alive all our wonderful relatives would still be we us . My daughter would have never gotten a illness that can't be cured or me with my Bms syndrome . Rabbi I most certainly hope you don't feel that I'm showing any disrespect to you or our Jewish religion in any way . Rabbi you most certainly have put a lot of thought in to this article . My uncle who passed away many years ago believed in looking at things from 3 ways . Can you please correct me if I am wrong or misinterpreting this wrong ? Reply

Simcha December 15, 2016

Response to Hersh Goldman's Reply Religious Jews certainly have a mezuza on the doorpost of their bedrooms. However, in this situation, the mezuza is placed on the doorpost outside of the room. Meaning, when one is inside the room and closes the door, he cannot see the mezuza. If the room is constructed in such a fashion that when the door is closed, the mezuza and doorpost are visible from inside of the room, the mezuza does indeed need to be covered with a double cover during intimacy. Reply

Anonymous mb December 15, 2016

rabbi,
consider: he might be only asking to wear the external covering in miniature, certainly not klaf with the pasukim written on it...what sofer writes that small? Reply

Anonymous December 15, 2016

First two paragraphs of Reb Hersh's Comment Yeah I think that what the girl meant was wearing a necklace with a mezuzah pendant, like a brick of gold with the magen david on it or Shin or something, not an actual mezuzah. I think it's probably not an issue if it's just a pendant and it doesn't have one of Hashem's names on it.

Rabbi Shurpin could you speak to this please? Reply

Jessica December 14, 2016

Connection to Catholicism Hello,
So I am not Jewish, but Catholic, and I follow Chabad.org because I teach world religions to high schoolers and I like to be sure I understand religions for an internal perspective.
Anyways, I found the questioning of wearing a mezuzah similar to our Catholic rosary. While these two items have very different religious roles, both can be "transformed " in to jewelry, the rosary much more easily. And it is actually a practice that it viewed as very disrespectful to Catholics because the object it to be used for prayer, not bodily adornment. But you can argue that both objects are viewed as protective, I wonder if they are related in this sense. Reply

Kendall Meeker December 14, 2016

Questions and more questions. The New York Times has said, back in 2011 I believe, that the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house. The room that one may need the most protection. If protection is the purpose for placing a mezuzah, and the bathroom is the most dangerous room in ones house, could it not be thought that that would be the room with the largest need for a mezuzah? Life happens throughout a home. What makes a room "dirtier" than another? Does a baby in the family make the whole house dirty? What about someone with an ostomy? Could not any room be clean or dirty? Reply

Anonymous December 14, 2016

Is it permissible for a Noachide to wear a mezzuzah pendant (provided that it is removed before entering a bathroom) and or to affix a mezzuzah on the Door post? Reply

heather December 14, 2016

"brought into a bathroom or any unclean place,"

How can you determine what is an unclean place? Why is the bathroom unclean. I understand the inside of the toilet could be unclean but not necessarily the bathroom. The kitchen , bedroom, etc…all have potential of being unclean. It depends how deeply one wants to examine the details of possibilities. In my opinion the restriction is ridiculous. People should be able to wear any spiritual intention that has real meaning for them and they should be able to wear it any place. God is every where. Reply

Esther Cook Aurora December 14, 2016

Thanks for the Mezezah idea! It is superstition and idolatry to imagine that any physical object has any protective or magic powers. But we love to wear Judaica jewlry and so on because these things remind us of HaShem and the people and religion we love. If your necklace mezuzah makes you aware of the Schema all the time, then that mindfulness will indeed be protective. Reply

Anonymous December 14, 2016

My mom had terrible crippling migraines when she was in her 20 , she was being hospitalized in terrible pain, and the Rebbe told her to wear a mezuzza, ( with the 2 covering etc) and since she has she doesnt even get headaches .
It worked for her, so maybe this is helpful info Reply

Hersh Goldman Swampscott, MA December 14, 2016

Is It OK to wear a Mezzuzah necklace? I thought Rabbi Yehudah Shurpin's reply was very well researched and very educational. I like the fact that he gives his sources.

I really wonder if the girl meant wearing an actual Mezzuzzah as a pendant. Maybe, for lack of another word, she meant a pendant that is simply a piece of ordinary jewelry with a Jewish symbol like a menorah or Jewish Star or letter Shin embossed on it.

I had trouble relating one of your statements with the applied Jewish observance that I'm familiar with. You said sacred writing "may not be brought into a bathroom or any unclean place or be present in a room during intimate relations"
I don't have a mezzuzzah fixed to my bathroom (unclean place) door post but I do have a mezzuzzah on my bedroom doorway. Doesn't everybody who has mezzuzzot throughout the house have them on all the bedroom doorposts? Now, don't religious married Jews have "intimate relations" in the bedroom? Do they remove the mezzuzzah during sex? Reply

Kate Dalla Riva Scranton PA December 14, 2016

I'm not with this clean/unclean thing...either everything is sacred or nothing is sacred, and although I know it's never either/or, I also know everything is sacred. Even my turquoise mosaic Star if David with הי in the center, backwards, which is fine with me since I only see it in the mirror anyway. Reply

Anonymous December 14, 2016

If you need to take mezuzah into an unclean place Dear Rabbi, If I am concerned that it will be lost or stolen, can I carry my mezuzah necklace into the restroom if I double wrap it? Is there a permissible way to bring it into an unclean place? Thanks. Reply

Anonymous Delray Beach December 14, 2016

A mezzuzzah neckless is a piece of jewelry and really just a mezzuzzah cover(since we know the real part of the mezzuzzah is on the "scroll")It makes some people feel more connected which is a good thing...don't think anybody who wears one does so to disrespect G-d but rather to remind them to remember our
Connection. Reply

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