A New Look at the Mezuzah

We are one month away from the start of the High Holy Days – and just a few days from Elul, a period traditionally devoted to reflection, repentance, and asking for forgiveness.

One tradition, often inspired by grandparents, is to buy clothes before Rosh Hashanah to herald the new year, new beginnings.   My mother used to give our girls money for new dresses.

Time for a new Mezuzah?

Would this also be a good time to purchase and affix a mezuzah (literally “doorpost’) for any doors in your home that still need one?  Kind of a spiritual renewal?

“The little box or cylinder affixed to the doorways of Jewish homes is a clue, a reminder, a sign of welcome, a decoration, an amulet, and a sentry box.

                    — Anita Diamant, Living a Jewish Life

A quick search of mezuzot available online was boggling: from this elegant Gary Rosenthal-designed metal mezuzah to one mezuzah that includes a separate tube to include shards from the chuppah glass to a whole host of options for children.

In addition to offering an opportunity to select a beautiful piece of Judaica, we can recommit ourselves to the words of the mezuzah.   And if you’ve already got all the mezuzot (plural of mezuzah) you need, this might be a good time to read the blessings aloud.

Inside each glass or enamel or metal case is a scroll (called a klaf) made of parchment from a kosher animal and inscribed in black ink with a special quill pen.  Written by a sofer (so much more than a scribe), a mezuzah has 713 letters representing passages from the book of Deuteronomy.

The verses include the instruction to “Write these words upon the doorposts of your house and your gates,” as well as the Shema, proclaiming G-d’s oneness.

 New Annual Tradition

I like the idea of making this conscious reading of the verses, standing near a mezuzah, an annual tradition as a prelude to Rosh Hashanah.  I think I’ll make this year one.

Please share your Elul traditions here.

P.S.  On a related note, here’s a fascinating story that we read in our book club that you might enjoy: The Mezuzah in the Madonna’s Foot, the history of the Marranos in Spain and other “secret” Jews.

 

 

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