Mezuzah is a scroll of parchment made from the skin of a “pure” animal placed in a special case, attached to the doorframe of a Jewish home. On the scroll are two passages from the Torah (Deuteronomy 6: 4–9 and 11:13) that are included in the prayer “Shema Israel”, which mentions the commandment of the Mezuzah.
From the outside on the scroll are written three letters – shin, dalet, yod – the first letters of one of the “Names” of the Most High, which can be translated as Almighty; interpreted as an abbreviation from the words: Guard the doors of Israel.
The case is placed on the right jamb when viewed from the outside. In Ashkenazi communities, it is customary to hang a case so that its upper part is slightly tilted into the room.
Every seven years, the scroll is checked at least two times. It must satisfy a number of special rules, the same applies to its writing.
When attaching a mezuzah, they say a special blessing, the text of which can be found in any siddur (a collection of prayers and blessings).
The commandment to hang mezuzah is given twice in the Torah: “You will write them (the words of the Torah that are included in the text of the mezuzah scroll) on the doorposts of your house and at your gate.”
Mezuzah has nothing to do with the amulet (a special item designed to protect its owner). Belief in the protective properties of amulets is prohibited by Judaism. Jews fulfill the mezuzah commandment because the Torah so prescribes. The Rambam explains (Tefillin Laws 6:13): “The commandment to have a mezuzah reminds us of the unity of the Almighty and due love for Him at every our arrival or departure from home.”
Outside of Israel, mezuzahs are hung on the door 30 days after entering a rented apartment. In Eretz Yisrael, it is attached immediately after being introduced. And one more important rule: the mezuzah should hang not only on the front doors, but on all the internal doors of the house (except for bathrooms and toilets).
There is no Jewish house without mezuzah. The most ancient mezuzahs that have come down to us belong to the era of the Second Temple. The houses left by the Jews are easily identified by the doorway where the mezuzah was previously stored. Such old buildings can be found in Prague, Vilnius and many other European cities. Such houses can also be found in Hebron, where this characteristic sign is still visible on many houses built before the pogrom of 1929.