I have a neighbor, a wonderful person, who is not Jewish. With all the antisemitism going around, he approached me and asked if it would be okay for him to place a mezuzah on the doorway of his house.

I appreciate the gesture so much but want to make sure that it’s allowed by Jewish law. What should I tell him?


What a thoughtful neighbor you have! It is beautiful to see this gesture of true care and support for the Jewish people. Tell your neighbor that I am also touched by it!

I also appreciate the fact that he asked if it’s okay to put up a mezuzah. Clearly, he wants to do the right thing.

The short answer to your neighbor is: That’s so sweet of you, but it’s better if you find another way to display your support.

To understand why, let’s delve into the Jewish laws related to the mezuzah.

Not Just a Symbol

A mezuzah is one of the most known Jewish symbols. When we see a mezuzah on a doorway, we know that Jews live there. Yet the mezuzah is not merely a symbol, it’s a mitzvah, a commandment from G‑d. And the best way to fulfill this commandment is by following the exact instructions.

The biblical commandment is specifically directed to Jewish people to place a mezuzah on their doorposts. So the correct way to fulfill this mitzvah is by following the details and keeping it as it was meant to be.

Jewish law specifically deals with this question and rules that a mezuzah should only be placed on the doorpost of a Jewish home.

How Will the Mezuzah Be Treated?

The mezuzah scrolls are considered sacred and need to be treated with respect. There are many laws on how to treat these scrolls both while in use as well as when they can no longer be used. Overall, this tradition of treating the mezuzah with respect is widely known among Jewish people, but many non-Jews are not aware of the holiness of the mezuzah or how it must be cared for.1

So even if your neighbor will treat the mezuzah with utmost reverence, there is still a concern that others may not treat it with the proper respect.2

A Sign of Covenant

Every human has his or her Divine mission on earth. The destiny of the Jew is to live in accordance with the Torah and its commandments, while non-Jews are guided by the Seven Noahide Laws.

While non-Jews may choose to voluntarily observe many Torah laws, certain mitzvahs, like affixing a mezuzah to your doorpost, express the distinctive nature of the covenant and responsibility of the Jewish people in this world. Non-Jews are therefore generally discouraged from putting up a mezuzah, which is the hallmark of the Jewish home.3

Not a Mitzvah

Another consideration is that mezuzahs are typically written with the intent of fulfilling a mitzvah. Since non-Jews don't share this specific obligation, their affixing of a mezuzah may inadvertently diminish its significance.4

Is There an Exception?

Interestingly, some halachic authorities point to the following incident in the Jerusalem Talmud in which a mezuzah was indeed given to Artaban IV, the last ruler of the Parthian Empire:

Artaban sent a priceless precious pearl to our holy teacher5 and said to him: “Send me a thing of equal value.”

He sent him a mezuzah.

He said to him: “I sent you a priceless thing and you sent me something worth a follis!”6

He said to him: “Your possessions and mine together are not equal to it! Not only that, but you sent me something that I have to watch over and I sent you something that watches over you while you are sleeping, as it is written:7 ‘When you walk, it shall lead you; when you lie down, it shall guard you . . .’”8

The commentaries point out that this was an exception rather than the rule because:

  • In this instance, the rabbi was certain that the mezuzah would always be treated with respect.9
  • The rabbi actually wrote the mezuzah specially for Artaban IV, so it was not intended to be used for a mitzvah.10
  • The mezuzah wasn’t given to be placed on his doorpost, but just to be treasured (and indeed, he never placed it on his doorpost).11
  • Alternatively, some explain that Artaban may actually have been Jewish.12

The final ruling in the Code of Jewish Law is that if a non-Jew is requesting a mezuzah, and if refraining from giving it to him would lead to discord or harm, you can give it to him.13

Your neighbor, however, seems to be a genuine friend and only seeks to show respect and accord. While we applaud his good intentions, I’m sure he’ll understand that there are other ways to show his support and friendship.