Watch that Mezuzah

It is not an uncommon occurrence that the details of objects located in the spaces we most frequently venture, and likewise, of items we use most often, remain unnoticed by our eyes. Obviously, one could not properly appreciate the extent of this truth until it be purposely brought to his or her attention. Today, I can still recall the method in which my sixth grade teacher awakened me to this notion.

I was called to the front of the classroom, and asked to hand over my wrist watch. Once in my teacher’s hand, she asked me to describe the physical structure of it in explicit detail. Well, I knew the band was stretchy and purple, with little pink butterflies adorning the edges, but as I related the colors of the second and minute hands, I realized I had already run out of descriptions. The color of the numbers lining its face, the shape of the metal time-setting clasp, even the company’s design in its center I could not seem to recall. This was an item I had worn daily, referred to hourly, and one which was rarely parted from my wrist. Still, I could not visualize, from memory, the many details of its image.

A similar reaction of bewilderment, directed at my own ignorance, was expressed when a specific detail of most mezuzah cases had been brought to my attention. I had been reaching up to kiss the holy mezuzah scroll case at every turn of my childhood, appreciating the sight of it in every doorway throughout adulthood, yet somehow I had managed to experience these accumulated moments without being aware of the large Hebrew letter “shin” inscribed, printed, or crafted, on the upper surface of nearly every existing Mezuzah case.

The letter “Shin” on the mezuzah case represents the first Hebrew letter which spells the name of God, “Shaddai.” The name itself is an acronym for “Guardian of the Doors of Israel,” which is precisely the mezuzah’s purpose in resting above the doorframe upon entry to a Jewish space.

As was the case with my youthful wrist watch, I can at once acknowledge the expressive detail of the typical mezuzah case. Likewise, I can appreciate this unobserved detail as an assurance that one is protected in his or her goings and comings by both the case itself, and its inner mezuzah scroll.

Mezuzah on a Roll

It is not uncommon that a person should find oneself so absorbed in a specific activity; be it working on a project, reading a thrilling novel, or even playing a game, that he or she entirely loses track of the swiftly ticking clock. One would sit down to tackle a task at hand and accordingly become so engrossed, as to be completely absent from the land of the living, and like-wise the day’s sunshine will go unnoticed. And only once one’s mind has been restored to the present can he or she identify the hollow pit of a stomach in which the slightest form of sustenance has failed to pay visit in far too long. All at once one is famished, and the slightest implication of food has the influence to make a mouth water.

This occurrence is most common for me whilst I am studying for an exam. My eyes will be glued to the wall inside whatever room I allowed myself to become prisoner to. In this way my brain is put in overdrive as it attempts to memorize concepts, invisibly painting each idea I have studied onto the wall I am actively unseeing before my eyes. This practice of skipping meals to work overtime is irrefutably unhealthy; however, I always assumed it to be unavoidable. Setting an alarm clock as a reminder to grab a snack is not exactly a disturbance conducive to a concentrated brain, mid- thought process.

My savior finally appeared in the form of a recent discovery. A silent object, one that could rest within my study space without distraction, yet when necessary, even my glassy-eyed vision could acknowledge. A discreet reminder of my body’s need for nourishment, this Sushi Mezuzah Roll Case is both inventive, and brilliant!

Keeping the Safeguard Safe

Contrary to what one might assume, choosing the perfect Mezuzah case takes exceptional effort. A child’s bedroom, for example, could take the loud, the colorful and the fun. Whereas the entry doorway to your home may demand a case of stately beauty, elegance, and warmth. It takes persistence and more time than one would admit to finally deem a Mezuzah case “the one.” However, one must also practice this same patience when it comes to the actual installation of the mezuzah itself.

In this instance, I refer not to the possible oversight of the Mezuzah’s Biblical requirements of height, placement and angle, but to the physical act of hammering those nails into your post and labeling the mission “done.” This particular oversight has the potential of yielding long term effects, specifically; ensuring that a child a mere five years of age would never again confuse her own left hand for her right.

As I ran through the hallway of my elementary school, I noted the beautiful wooden mezuzah decorating the doorway to the cafeteria. As I had done so many times before, I reached my little kindergartener’s hand up to tap that mezuzah as I ran by, intending to give it a hurried little kiss. Being respectful of the squeamish, I will spare the specific details of what occurred then. Simply, what I felt was an unexpected and very large “ouch,” and simultaneously it was discovered that the nail holding the mezuzah in place had never been properly drilled in.

Anyone with a technical mind would be wondering exactly how my palm got “caught” if the flat end of the nail was obviously the portion sticking out of the wall. That alone should give you an idea of exactly how hard I must’ve slammed my hand, and how painful the result. The conclusion is such; the combination of the flat head of a nail resting on even the slightest of slants, and enough childhood momentum, can cause serious injury, likely greater than that of the sharp end of the nail itself.

I can still see and feel the scar from that incident on my right hand so many years later. And since then, not once have I confused my right hand, what I call my “Mezuzah hand,” from my left.

Mezuzah installation must be done with the same precision and care as demonstrated when choosing it. Let us remain protected by the holy mezuzah, and need not be protected from it.



Guardian: The Physical and the Spiritual

Those familiar with the concept of a Mezuzah (a parchment inscribed with religious texts and attached in a case to the doorpost of a Jewish house as a sign of faith) would be the first to notice one. Particularly, if it were fastened to a doorpost in a most unexpected, interesting, place. The Century 21 Department Store chains probably qualify as such.

As I made my way toward the exit, I noticed the small white Mezuzah affixed on the right side of the door frame. Taken by surprise, I reached up to touch the holy object, putting my fingers to my lips to give it a kiss, as is customary upon entering or exiting a Jewish space. The security guard standing beside the door seemed just as perplexed as I, and stopped me with one foot out the door, to inquire as to what I had just done, and why.

I explained that parchment is placed within the small encasement and affixed on the doorpost of a Jewish home or work space. The parchment contains the “Shema” prayer, expressing the unity of God and the commandment to love God with all of one’s heart. The reason for the kissing is such: As is common with a worldly king, he sits inside his palace on his thrown, protected from the outside by his guards. However, with God, his servants remain within the home whilst he protects them from the outside. The kissing of the Mezuzah is my reminder that God will protect my departure and arrival, now and forever.

The security guard just looked at me; he let out a breath and nodded. He then thanked me for the explanation, and I turned to go. As I reached the street, I turned back toward the entrance on a last glance. The security guard had his hand reached up to the Mezuzah. He then drew it back down, and kissed it.

modern-main mezuzah

Modern Mezuzah Designs

The traditional Kosher Mezuzah has been around for quite some time. After making it’s historic and annually-commemorated debut on the doorposts of a small, beleaguered, Egyptian-enslaved Israelite nation on the night before the Passover exodus, Kosher Mezuzah scrolls have safeguarded the spiritual, physical and material well-being of an ever-oppressed people for over 3,000 years. Through hunger and illness, war and peace, famine and prosperity, the ancient and mystical power of the Mezuzah has helped an exiled and outnumbered people survive. Through multiple crusades, the Spanish inquisition, two world wars, the holocaust and the Islamic terror campaign, the Mezuzah and it’s message of hope and perseverance is a primary reason why the Jewish people have been able to overcome the steepest of odds time and again. Read more »

Israel Defense Forces

Young Jewish Professionals Affix Mezuzas for Israel

The Young Jewish Professionals of Los Angeles—a Chabad center for young adults—has launched a new Mezuzah initiative that offers kosher Mezuzah’s to those who do not yet have them for the token cost of $5.

The Chabad led Mezuzah campaign calls for young Jewish professionals all over the country to affix Mezuzahs to the doorposts of their homes and/or offices as a salute to the brave men and women of the Israel Defense Force, in support of their heroic efforts to return peace and security to the Holy Land.

The campaign, spearheaded by Rabbi Simons has arranged funding for 1,000 mezuzahs, which will be made available to young Jewish professionals throughout the country. Read more »

s.f. giants jewish heritage night mezuzah giveaway

S.F. Giants Free Mezuzah Giveaway

Last night, in celebration of their 10th annual Jewish Heritage Night, the San Francisco Giants gave away around 2,000 free Mezuzahs to fans carrying specially marked Jewish Heritage tickets for their game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The event began with a pre-game party in Seals Plaza located just beyond center field from 5 to 7 p.m., featuring Jewish musician Saul Kaye and kosher food for purchase from Dina’s, a local Kosher catering company.

It was somewhat fitting that the Jewish Heritage game be played against the Pittsburgh Pirates, as Ike Davis, the Pirates first-baseman is one of only 11 Jewish players currently playing in the league.

Read more »

why is a mezuzah hung diagonally?

Why is a Mezuzah Hung Diagonally?

The Question
Why isn’t the Mezuzah hung straight?
A simple enough question.
But those of you familiar with the intricacies of Rabbinic tradition know that even the simplest of questions can have deeply complex answers… Well,  today’s your lucky day, because the answer to this particular question is actually quite straightforward, and it involves a debate between two Talmudic commentaries with opposing opinions (bet you didn’t see that comin’…). Read more »
batman fimo mezuzah

Gift Ideas: Fimo Clay Batman Mezuzah

We’ve all gone through our superhero stage, right? Ya know, that stage when literally everything we do, eat, sleep or wear contains some element of our favorite cartoon superhero character. And for some, that glorious, fantastical stage can last well into adulthood (that’s totally normal right? Please tell me that’s normal… Please?! ).

Well for those of you looking for the perfect gift Mezuzah for the child in your life currently enjoying that magical stage, we have got the perfect Mezuzah for you! So reclaim your title as favorite parent/uncle/aunt/family-friend with this expertly crafted, 3D Batman Fimo Mezuzah and that special youngster will sleep that much more soundly each night, under the watchful and vigilant protection of their favorite superhero Mezuzah.

spiderman fimo superhero cartoon mezuzah

Fimo Spiderman Mezuzah

Ever since they first appeared on the desert-sand encrusted doorposts of our forefathers some 3,000 years ago, the powerful and mystically protective qualities of the Kosher Mezuzah have been well documented. Countless miraculous tales of personal and communal salvation by way of the Mezuzah have been told and retold throughout every stage of our storied past. These small, mysterious and yet legendary artifacts have long baffled the scientific observer, for what manner of potent defensive weaponry could this small, intricately sculpted Mezuzah possibly hold?

Ok, ok I know what you’re thinking… Read more »