Essay: Mezuzah and the Jewish Culture

Pages: 2 (579 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: History - Israel  ·  Buy This Paper

Mezuzah in Jewish Culture

The mezuzah (Hebrew for "doorpost") is a traditional symbol of Judaism. It is a small container usually approximately one inch to several inches long and less than an inch wide. The mezuzah is usually affixed to the right doorpost of the front door of Jewish homes and apartments. Typically, it is positioned at an angle and it is belief that this represents a compromise between Rabbis centuries ago who could not decide whether the mezuzah should be mounted vertically or horizontally.

History and Significance

Contrary to common belief, the mezuzah actually is not symbolic of the famous Passover incident in Ancient Egypt when Jews painted calves' blood on their doorways so that God would recognize their homes and spare them from the plagues imposed on the Egyptians to pressure the release of Jewish slaves in Egypt. The inspiration for the mezuzah is actually one of the two biblical passages that are contained within the mezuzah. According to Deuteronomy 6:9, 11:19, God commanded the Jews to keep his words in their minds at all time and to write them on the doorposts on their homes. It is Deuteronomy 6:4-9, a passage known as the "Shema" (Hebrew for the commandment "Listen") after the first words of the passage, "Hear O. Israel…" part of which contains the specific instruction to affix God's words to the doorpost.

Physical Design

The mezuzah itself contains a small piece of parchment paper on which Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 and Deuteronomy 11: 13-21 are written along with the name of God on the opposite side. Orthodox and more observant Jews usually use a hand-written parchment and believe that mezuzahs with machine printed scripture do not fulfill the obligation of affixing God's words to the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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