“And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and upon your
gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:9)
The mezuzah is a well-recognized, visible sign of a Jewish home. This
small rectangular container affixed to the right side of the door, in the upper
third of the doorpost (shoulder height), contains a powerful message.
This mezuzah graces the doorpost of Beit Hameiri
(Hameiri House), a museum in Safed, Israel that
houses 200 years of Jewish history.
Just as our bodies are the outer shell that houses the true essence of who we
are, these sometimes elaborately decorated small containers protect the
inner contents which hold the power of this ancient Jewish custom called the mezuzah.
Inside each mezuzah is a rectangular piece of parchment called a ‘klaf,’
which is made from a specially prepared skin of a biblically clean (kosher) animal.
The klaf is scribed with Hebrew lettering from key scriptures found in the
holy Word of God: Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Deuteronomy 11:13-21.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your
God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.
Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and
when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Ancient Klaf: the tiny scroll with Hebrew Scripture inside the
mezuzah containing Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Deuteronomy 11:13-21.
The tiny scroll is then rolled up with the Scripture facing inward.
Often, the container contains the Hebrew letter shin on the outside, which
stands for Shaddai (a name of God often translated as Almighty).
The three Hebrew letters that make up the name Shaddai – shin (SH)
dalet (D) and yud (Y) –are often interpreted as an acronym standing
for Shomer Daltot Yisrael (Keeper of the Doors of Israel).
The presence of a mezuzah on the doorposts of a house is a testimony that
this is the dwelling place of people who honour God and are dedicated to
As Joshua boldly declared, in preparation for leading the children of Israel
into the Promised Land, “As for me and my household we will serve the
Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
The mezuzah on the doorpost of a building in Philadelphia is a testimony
to a commitment to the God of Israel, biblical values and a godly lifestyle.
The Meaning of Mezuzah
The Hebrew word mezuzah means simply doorpost; however, the doorpost
of a house can be a sign of what a particular house epitomizes.
In Biblical times, the doorpost of a house, due to its visibility to the outside
world, represented the family’s values and was a place to show identity.
The doorpost has such significance that God commanded the blood of the
first Passover Lamb to be applied to the mezuzah (doorpost) of each
“Then Moshe (Moses) called for all the leaders of Israel and said, ‘Select
and take lambs for your families, and slaughter the Pesach (Passover) lamb.
Take a bunch of hyssop leaves and dip it in the blood which is in the basin,
and smear it on the two sides and top of the door-frame. Then, none of
you is to go out the door of his house until morning.’” (Exodus 12:21-22)
When the angel of destruction saw the blood on the doorpost, it would
“Pass-over” that home and not enter to destroy.
“For Adonai (the Lord) will pass through to kill the Egyptians; but when he
sees the blood on the top and on the two sides, Adonai will pass over the
door and will not allow the Slaughterer to enter your houses and kill you.”
The blood of the lamb (Yeshua) on the doorposts of our heart saves us
from the wrath of God. By placing a mezuzah on the doorpost of our home, it
gives witness to God, to the world, and to the adversary, that this is a home
that serves the one true God.
It is customary to touch the mezuzah and then touch your lips,
like a kiss, showing respect for the Word of God, before entering
a room, as this Yemeni Jew is doing here.
How the Custom is Observed
Throughout Jewish history, this custom has been observed in various
forms. Over time, a custom evolved that a small container would be
attached to the doorpost containing the Word of God.
The Jewish historian, Josephus, when writing of the first-century Jewish
community in Israel, described the ancient practice of the mezuzah.
Recent archaeological digs at Qumran (where the Dead Sea Scrolls were
found) have discovered various kinds of mezuzot (plural of mezuzah).
After the destruction of the Temple in 68 C.E., the rabbis outlined detailed
instructions on how to observe the custom of the mezuzah: how the
parchment is to be written, which verses of the Torah to include, and how
to attach it to the doorpost.
However, due to the dispersion of the Jewish people to the four corners of
the world, a diversity of variations developed.
This mitzvah (commandment) can be literally fulfilled by inscribing the
doorposts themselves with the Word of God. However, most Jewish people
today would consider this a sacrilegious act.
Table of handcrafted glass mezuzah’s and other fine pieces at Nachalat
Binyamin Pedestrian Mall, which is located at the Yemenite quarter in
one of Tel Aviv’s oldest neighborhoods.
No Magical Powers
Sadly, some Jewish people today attribute ‘magical powers’ to the
presence of a mezuzah on the doorpost, which is a belief denounced by
rabbinic authorities including the well known Torah commentator, Maimonides.
The mezuzah was never meant to become a ‘magical charm or amulet’ on
the door to ward off evil spirits.
Rather than a protective amulet, the mezuzah is meant to be a reminder to
love God and worship Him alone.
As Maimonides, the great Jewish sage wrote in the Mishneh Torah, an
influential work in Jewish religious thought, “There is no harm in writing
Shaddai on the outside; but those who write on the inside the names of
angels, or holy names, or verses or other formulae, will be among those who
have no share in the world to come. For these foolish people not only
prevent the fulfilment of a great commandment, which has for its object, the
remembrance of God’s unity, and the love for Him and the worship of Him,
but they turn the Mezuzah into an amulet used for their own selfish interest,
believing in their foolish hearts that it will protect their material possessions.”
Traditional mezuzah: The
large letter called shin stands
for שדי (Shaddai), one of the
names of God. At the bottom
ירושלים (Jerusalem) is written.
Traditional Jewish Observance
“The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and
forever.” (Psalm 121:8)
The practice of affixing a mezuzah to the doorpost of one’s home has
remained remarkably consistent even after thousands of years of history;
it’s still a popular Jewish custom today.
The mezuzah, in fact, is to be affixed to a new home or apartment as soon
as possible to dedicate the dwelling place to God, usually within 30 days
of someone moving into their new residence. It is a dedication to God to
sanctify the dwelling place with the Word of God.
The mezuzah is held to the spot where it will be affixed, and the following
blessing is recited:
Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha‘olam, asher kideshanu bemitzvotav
vetzivanu likboa‘ mezuzah.
Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us
with His mitzvot, and commanded us to affix a mezuzah.
Orthodox rabbis have determined that a mezuzah should be placed on every
door frame of every room of every dwelling (except rooms considered
undignified such as a bathroom).
Observant Jewish people will touch the mezuzah with their fingers and then
kiss the fingers that touched the mezuzah as they go into a dwelling or place
of business and as they go out.
It’s a way of honouring the Holy Scriptures, and a reminder of God’s
promise to watch over our comings and our goings both now and
Because the important part of the mezuzah is the klaf (parchment), the
design of the outer cases is something of an art form. This little box can take
various creative shapes, sizes, and artistic designs, ranging from a toy car for
a little Jewish boy’s room, to various traditional Jewish themes.
Mezuzah, designed by Israeli artist
Yeshua and the Mezuzah
When Yeshua (Jesus) was asked by a rabbi which commandment he
considered the most important, he replied with the passage found in a
mezuzah: “Sh’ma Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad. [Hear O
Israel, the Lord is our God; the Lord is one].” (Mark 12:29; Deuteronomy 6:4-5)
There is, however, no specific reference to the mezuzah in the Brit
Chadashah (New Testament); however, observing this custom can have
significance for every follower of Yeshua—Jew and non-Jew alike.
The mezuzah may serve as a reminder, in a Messianic home, that we are
called to “walk in the light as He is in the light.”
Peter wrote of the value of reminders: “I am trying to arouse you to
wholesome thinking by means of reminders; so that you will keep in mind….”
(2 Peter 3:1, 2)
Noah’s Ark mezuzah for a child’s room:
What a wonderful reminder to children to
remember the great and mighty things
God has done for us.
Just as we use various aids, like tying a string around one’s finger (or in
today’s modern world, setting an alarm on our cell phones, or using calendars
and tasks on our computer) to help us remember important things we need to
do, God also uses reminders.
God realizes that with so many things vying for our attention, we need
physical reminders of Him to bring Him into our daily lives.
Other physical reminders God commanded are to wear the tzizit (fringes) on
the corners of our garments with a thread of blue to remind us of heaven, and
the Shabbat, Festivals, and Holy Days of the Lord are also to be reminders
of the great and mighty things God has done for us.
Mezuzah attached at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem
When we understand the significance of doorways and gates in Jewish
culture, the words of Yeshua become even more meaningful. He said, “I am
the gate ….” (John 10:7-10)
The door or gate was a vital place of entry to find protection; to enter to
receive provision of the shepherd. Yeshua was showing us that He is the
only legitimate entry point to the Father.
Those who are in relationship with God through Messiah Yeshua have a
right to participate in the Biblical customs and blessings of Israel, along
with the responsibilities of that special calling.
When entering and exiting our home, we will have a physical reminder of
the high calling that we have in Yeshua the Messiah:
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as
children of light…. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness,
but rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5:8-11)
Mezuzah’s come in a great variety of materials and shapes.
The mezuzah is a wonderful way to make our decision to follow
God public knowledge.
The mezuzah reminds us of the Covenant we each have with the God of Israel.
This is the God that we serve.
When we affix the mezuzah, we rededicate ourselves, our homes, and our
families to the Lord. The mezuzah can proudly bear witness that we are a
full-fledged member of the holy set-apart community of Believers who
believe in the Word of God.
Please pray for the Jewish people, that the mezuzah on the doorposts of
their homes will be a meaningful reminder to love God with all their heart,
mind, soul and strength; and that it is not just an amulet that they touch and
kiss, for the sake of religious tradition and looking “religious” in the eyes of others.
We ask that you help our ministry here in Jerusalem to bring the Word of God to
the Jewish People, so that they may know that Yeshua is “the way, the truth, and
the life” and that no man comes to the Father but through Him.
“For the Torah will go forth from Zion and the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem” Isaiah 2:3