Mezuzah: (Hebrew: מזוזה, sometimes spelled mezuzah, lit. “doorpost”): A small parchment scroll upon which the Hebrew words of the Shema are handwritten by a scribe. Mezuzah scrolls are rolled up and affixed to the doorposts of Jewish homes, designating the home as Jewish and reminding those who live there of their connection to G‑d and their heritage.

What Constitutes a Kosher Mezuzah?

The decorative case containing the mezuzah scroll is just that: a mere container. What’s important is the scroll, upon which the first two sections of the Shema (the "mezuzah prayer")are handwritten, beginning with the eternal words “Hear o Israel, the L‑rd is our G‑d, the L‑rd is One.”1 These selections both contain G‑d’s instruction to affix the mezuzah: “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

Mezuzahs in cases for sale
Mezuzahs in cases for sale

These words are handwritten by an expert scribe who is trained in the many laws involved in writing a mezuzah, including the requirement that it be written with special intention and that the words be written in order.

Every single letter in the mezuzah must be properly formed. A single crack in the parchment or any omission can invalidate the entire scroll. A printed mezuzah is invalid. For this reason it is vital that it be purchased from a reputable scribe or retailer, such as our online store.

On the reverse side of the scroll, the scribe writes one of G‑d’s names: Sha-dai. The three letters of this name form an acronym for the Hebrew words that mean “Guardian of the doorways of Israel.” Since this name of G‑d begins with the letter shin, mezuzah cases are often decorated with that letter.

More on how a mezuzah is written here.

A high-quality mezuzah (credit: Rabbi Yosef Y. Rabin, Craft Sofer)
A high-quality mezuzah (credit: Rabbi Yosef Y. Rabin, Craft Sofer)

Where Do Mezuzahs Hang?

You should hang a mezuzah on just about every doorway that belongs to you. Notable exceptions are doors leading to bathrooms and small closets.

The mezuzah should be hung on the right side of the door, on the top third of the doorway. The mezuzah should be right-side up, and slanted so that the top of the mezuzah faces inwards towards the room.

Read our one-page guide on mezuzah placement here.

Rabbi Chaim Lazaroff of Houston, in the background, helps Brian Levinson affix his new mezuzah. (Photo Jillian Levinson)
Rabbi Chaim Lazaroff of Houston, in the background, helps Brian Levinson affix his new mezuzah. (Photo Jillian Levinson)

What Is the Meaning of the Mezuzah and Why Do We Use It?

Hanging a mezuzah on our doors fulfills a Biblical command, but it also has a very important message and provides a unique service to the denizens of our homes.

The mezuzah means that Judaism is not confined to synagogues. We strive for spirituality even within the comfort and familiarity of our own homes. The mezuzah on the doorpost reminds those who walk through that G‑dly life and Torah accompany them wherever they go.

Our sages teach that a mezuzah has the unique property of protecting the inhabitants of the home where it is hung—whether the inhabitants are inside or outside that home. The mezuzah can be compared to a “helmet,” a veneer that protects us against the dangers that surround us in our lives.

Read 16 mezuzah facts

The Talmud teaches that while most kings sit on the inside while their guards protect them from without, G‑d stations His protection (as manifested in the mezuzah) on the outside, protecting His beloved people.

G‑d promises that anyone who carefully observes the mitzvah of mezuzah will lead a longer, richer life, as will their descendants, as Deuteronomy states, “So that you will prolong your days and the days of your children.”2

Read more about the protective power of mezuzah here.

When passing through a doorway where a mezuzah has been affixed, we glance at it and touch it. Some people then kiss their fingertips. This serves as a reminder throughout the day that G‑d is always with us, inside or outside our homes.

Read about why we kiss the mezuzah here.

How to Check the Mezuzah

It is customary to have mezuzahs checked twice every seven years, or even every year, prior to the High Holidays. Even if the mezuzah was purchased from a reputable source and previously found to be perfectly kosher, there is always room for human error, and new cracks and other problems can appear with time. Of course, this checking must be done by an expert scribe.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, would often urge people who encountered health challenges or other difficulties to have their mezuzahs (and tefillin) checked to make sure that every scroll was in good shape and properly placed on the doorpost.

If you need help getting a new mezuzah or having your existing ones checked, closest Chabad rabbi will be happy to assist you, or you can get a mezuzah scroll or case from our online store.

Mezuzah In Jewish Tradition

The mezuzah is the hallmark of the Jewish home, demonstrating that it leads to a Jewish household. When a Jewish family affixes a mezuzah on their permanent residence they are forming another link in Jewish history and continuing a tradition that goes back to Biblical times.

Can We Make Our Own Mezuzah?

Yes and no. The mezuzah scroll, upon which is written the mezuzah prayer, must be made out of specialized materials by a highly competent scribe. However, the mezuzah case is something you can make on your own. Clay, PVC pipes, wood and many other craft materials are good for mezuzah cases. So get creative and have fun. Don’t forget that it’s traditional to put the Hebrew letter shin (ש) on the case, often near the top.

Mezuzah FAQ

What is a mezuzah?

A mezuzah (lit. “doorpost”) is a small parchment scroll containing handwritten Hebrew verses from the Shema prayer. It is rolled up and placed in a decorative case, which is then affixed to the doorposts of Jewish homes. The mezuzah serves as a symbol of Jewish identity and faith, reminding those who live there of their connection to G‑d and their heritage.

Read: Mezuzah

Why do we put mezuzahs on our doors?

Mezuzahs are put on doors to fulfill a Biblical commandment and to provide a reminder of G‑d's presence and protection. Our sages teach that a mezuzah has the unique property of protecting the inhabitants of the home where it is hung—even when the inhabitants are not home.

Read: The Laws and Customs

Read: The Protective Power of Mezuzah

How do you use a mezuzah?

We fulfill the mitzvah simply by virtue of having a kosher mezuzah being affixed on the doorway. However, many have the custom that when passing through a doorway where a mezuzah has been affixed, they glance at it and touch it. Some people then kiss their fingertips. This serves as a reminder throughout the day that G‑d is always with us, inside or outside our homes.

Read: Why Kiss the Mezuzah?

What makes a mezuzah kosher?

A mezuzah is considered kosher if it is handwritten by a trained scribe in accordance with halacha, every letter is properly formed, and there are no cracks or omissions in the scroll. Issues can arise even with a kosher scroll, so it is important to check your mezuzahs regularly.

Read: The Mezuzah Scroll and Case

Where do you put a mezuzah?

You should hang a mezuzah on every doorway that belongs to you, with the exception of doors leading to bathrooms, sheds and small closets. If you only have one mezuzah, start with the front door. The mezuzah is affixed on the right doorpost, approximately, at the bottom of the top third of the doorpost, slanted inwards towards the room.

Read: Mezuzah Placement

How do you hang a mezuzah?

The blessing is recited once, before putting up the mezuzahs. Have the mezuzah and tools in hand. As you recite the blessing, keep in mind that it applies to all the mezuzahs you will presently affix in your home. Immediately after reciting the blessing, affix the mezuzah and proceed to the remaining rooms in your home without interruption.

Read: How to Hang a Mezuzah

Can you hang a mezuzah with tape?

Each mezuzah should be permanently affixed to the doorpost. To do this, it is best to use nails or screws, but if necessary, you may also use glue or double-sided mounting tape. Regular scotch tape or masking tape, which are temporary adhesives, should preferably not be used.

Read: Affixing the Mezuzah

What happens if a mezuzah falls?

If a mezuzah falls, it should be checked for damage. If it remains intact and kosher, it can be rehung after saying a bracha. Some have the custom to have the mezuzah checked before it is re-affixed.

How often should you check your mezuzah?

Mezuzahs should be checked by a sofer (certified scribe) twice every seven years to see if they have been affected by adverse weather conditions, or by folding (which can cause cracks in the letters), or if any other defect has occurred. However, there is an ancient custom practiced by people diligent in mitzvot to have their mezuzahs checked once a year, during the Jewish month of Elul, the month leading up to the High Holidays.

Read: Caring for your Mezuzah

I am moving, do I take the mezuzahs with me?

If you move out of your home and know that the next occupant is Jewish, the mezuzahs should not be removed, unless there is concern that if they are left behind they would be discarded or defaced. If you aren’t sure, or may not be able to buy new mezuzahs for your new home, a rabbi should be consulted.

I bought a house with mezuzahs. What should I do with them?

If you are Jewish, then you should ascertain whether the mezuzahs were deliberately left for you, or if some previous unknown occupant simply forgot them there. If you aren’t Jewish but found mezuzahs hanging on your doorposts, give them to a local rabbi who can ascertain whether they are still valid and/or bury them according to tradition.

Read: What to Do with Mezuzahs Found on Doors?