Friday, January 1, 2010

Checking the Mezuzah

15th of Tebet, 5770

A Mezuzah must be examined at least twice every seven years. Temperature and weather changes, as well as age, may cause the ink to fade and crack, thereby invalidating the Mezuzah.
If a mistake is found, the Mezuzah cannot be fixed. In other words, if even one letter is missing, written in the wrong way or corrupted (by humidity, mold, etc) it cannot be added or written back. The Mezuzah needs to be replaced.
If you change your Mezuzah or even affix your old Mezuzah back after it has been examined, you have to say the Berakha again … LIKBOA MEZUZAH.
If you have one or two Mezuzot to check, you could ask your rabbi to check them for you. If you have more than that, it is recommended to send them to a professional scribe.

Recommended Link:
Watch Checking Mezuzot (0:34)

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Birkat haMezuza

14th of Tebet 5770

Before reciting the blessing, the case with the Mezuzah enclosed should be held against the doorpost -- ready to turn the first screw or tap in the first nail. If using glue or foam tape, be prepared to firmly affix the case on the doorpost immediately upon completing the blessing. (Tape that would easily fall off if bumped into is regarded as too temporary to be considered "affixed")
Once the Mezuzah is in position, but before affixing it to the doorpost, the following blessing is recited:
Baruch Ata Ado-nay, Elo-henu Melekh Ha'olam, asher kid'shanu bi'misvo-tav, ve'sivanu leek-bo-a Mezuzah.
(Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the Universe, Who sanctified us with His Mitzvot, and commanded us to affix a Mezuzah).
If you are hanging many Mezuzot at the same time, you would say one blessing on the first Mezuzah -usually the front door- and include in that blessing the remaining Mezuzot. In the Mashadi community, however, families have different Minhaguim on this issue. (Ask a rabbi).
A woman can place the Mezuzah and say the blessing by herself. But when other people are present is not customary, for reasons of modesty.
Recommended reading on various subjects:

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

One Mezuzah in each room?

13th of Tebet, 5770

The custom today is to put a Mezuzah on virtually every door of the house. Therefore, a Jewish home has Mezuzot on the front and side doors, porch, bedrooms, living room, kitchen, playroom, etc. The exceptions are: Bathrooms and rooms with an area smaller than 36 square feet. If a room has more than one door, one Mezuzah is required for every door.

On an entrance without a door we should put a Mezuzah but without saying a berakha for that specific Mezuzah, because this is a case of a Halakhic controversy (Machloket between HaRambam and the Rosh). Alternatively, when affixing another Mezuzah in the house and saying the berakha for it, have in mind the entrance Mezuzah and affix it afterwards.

In addition to private places of residence, a Mezuzah should also be affixed in businesses, offices and stores, when they belong to a Jewish owner.

Read: “Mezuzah and surveillance”

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Kosher Mezuzah

12th of Tebet, 5770
The Mezuzah is a handwritten scroll, written on genuine parchment, prepared from the skin of a kosher animal, that contains the first two parts of the Shema Israel. A Mezuah written on paper; a printed Mezuzah or a Xeroxed Mezuzah are not Kosher. The Mezuzah should be written by a Sofer. This scribe carefully writes the words using special black ink and a quill pen. The letters must be written according to strict Halakhic rules and any mistakes or missing letters invalidates the entire parchment.

It is not possible to know if a Mezuzah is kosher just by looking at it, since part of its being kosher has to do with the scribe who wrote it, his knowledge and his thoughts at the time of writing the Mezuzah. Mezuzah requires a human hand and a clean Jewish mind. (Mezuzah is one of those few things that cannot be made by machines or be mass produced in China!). It is for this reason that one should buy a Mezuzah exclusively from a trustful God-fearing person.
A professional scribe is usually certified by “Vaad Mishmeret Stam”.

FYI see this interesting article: