I will never forget my first mezuzah. That was many years ago, in the former Soviet Union, where my wife and I were born into assimilated non-religious families, raised as atheists and trained as physicists. Pondering the origin of the Universe, in the scientific formulas and equations we suddenly “discovered” the Creator. Slowly, we connected our metaphysics with the monotheism of the Jewish faith into which we had been privileged to be born.

In those days, to be Jewish in Russia meant to be subject to ridicule and discrimination. We grew to view our Jewish origins as a handicap. Having finally rediscovered the rich spirituality of our people, the Jewish people, we as neophytes were eager to announce to the whole world how proud we felt to be Jewish. What better way to do this than by prominently displaying a mezuzah on the front door of our city apartment? It was easier said than done. Finding a mezuzah in Russia was no easy task. Only after we moved to Tbilisi, the capital of (then Soviet) Georgia, where some vestiges of the Jewish traditions still lingered among the Sefardic community of Georgian Jews, we were able, at last, to get our first mezuzah.

It was passed to us from a family that had recently repatriated to Israel. I was told that they, in turn, got it from another family leaving the country. These were lucky people, and the mezuzah, they thought, brought them luck. We needed this luck badly, as we had applied at that time for emigration visas. The mezuzah was passed on to us as a baton in the race for freedom. And freedom it brought! Of course, not the mezuzah per se, but the Almighty to Whom we prayed holding on to the mezuzah. Our mezuzah was like an antenna, which sent our heart-felt prayers soaring upwards, and through which the Divine blessings were received. Putting our hands on the mezuzah, we tuned ourselves to the higher reality, the true reality. In the darkest, most despairing moments, our mezuzah served as a compass pointing to longed-for freedom, glimmering beyond the horizon. It gave us a sense of direction and hope. It became the inner arrow in our lives.

It is my sincere hope that perhaps this book will help a few other wandering souls find in a mezuzah the arrow directing them in the ways of G‑d.

In 1974 the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, declared a worldwide mezuzah campaign (mivtza). He asked then that every Jewish home be provided with mezuzoth1. Since then, thousands of Jews have found their way back to Judaism, to their heritage, through this beautiful and easy mitzvah2.

Israel Emmiot, Yiddish poet, expressed this eloquently:

I have not kissed a mezuzah for many a day.

I have often strayed from my mother’s way.

But now, wondering whose this mezuzah is,

I press my lips to its parchment with a kiss.

It is to the Lubavitcher Rebbe I dedicate this book, with the hope that it may encourage a few more Jewish households to proudly display a mezuzah on their doorposts.

Our Sages said:

He who is observant of [the precept of] mezuzah will merit a beautiful house.

May we soon see in the merit of this great mitzvah the rebuilding of the most “holy and beautiful House”3 of all – the House of G‑d – the Holy Temple (Beth HaMikdash) in Jerusalem, as it is written

I shall dwell in the House of G‑d all the days of my life; to behold the beauty of G‑d and to meditate in His Sanctuary4. (Psalms XXVII, 4)