Mezuzah (plural: mezuzot) is a Hebrew word meaning “doorpost,” and it refers to a small, rectangular case containing a parchment scroll with verses from the Torah, which is affixed to the doorframe of Jewish homes.
The origins of the mezuzah can be traced back to biblical times, where it is mentioned in the Torah as a commandment to “write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:9).
Over time, the practice of affixing a mezuzah to the doorpost became widespread among Jews as a way to fulfill this commandment. The mezuzah was seen as a symbol of Jewish identity and a reminder of God’s presence and protection.
In the Talmudic era (200 BCE – 500 CE), the sages added more specific guidelines for the construction and placement of the mezuzah. The parchment scroll must contain specific verses from the Torah, including the Shema prayer (Deuteronomy 6:4-9), and must be written by a scribe using special ink and script.
In addition, the mezuzah must be affixed to the right doorpost of a Jewish home or room, with the top of the mezuzah facing inward towards the room. It should be placed at a height that allows for easy kissing of the mezuzah upon entering or leaving the room.
Today, the mezuzah remains an important symbol of Jewish identity and a reminder of the connection between the Jewish people and God. It is customary for Jews to touch or kiss the mezuzah upon entering or leaving a room as a sign of respect and devotion.