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Overview | Parchment | Writing | Dwelling | Affixing | Once Up
 
Laws of the Mezuzah: Writing
 
1. General

The general laws for the writing of a Mezuzah are similar to those which apply to the writing of a Sefer Torah, or Tefillin.

Sirtut. Before beginning to write the text of the Mezuzah, one must etch straight horizontal lines into the parchment. Each line runs from the left of the parchment to the right. The function of these lines is to guide the Sofer, to ensure that the text of the Mezuzah comes out straight. These etched lines are known as Sirtut.

The Ink. The Mezuzah must be written in black ink.

The Script. The Mezuzah must be written in Hebrew. The script of the Mezuzah is similar to the script of a Sefer Torah or Tefillin. This square script is known as "Ksav Ashuri" (Assyrian script).

No two letters may touch one another.

Tagin. Throughout the Mezuzah text, the seven letters: Gimmel, Zayin, Tet, Nun, Ayin, Tsadi, Shin (often referred to by their mnemonic “Shaatnez Gatz”) must be written in a distinct way: three decorative vertical lines, known as “tagin” (serifs, or crowns), come out of the top of the letter. A Mezuzah which lacks these tagin is still kosher.
see it

By Hand. A Mezuzah must be written by hand. A printed Mezuzah is not kosher.

From Memory. A Mezuzah may be written from memory (in contrast to a Sefer Torah, which must be copied from another Sefer Torah).

2. The Main Text of the Mezuzah

On the front of the Mezuzah are written the two portions of the Torah which discuss the Mitzvah of Mezuzah (these are also the first two portions of the daily prayer known as the Shema):

a. Deuteronomy 6: 4-9, known as the Shema, and
b. Deuteronomy 11: 13-21, known as the Vehaya Im Shamoa.

The two portions are written so that they take up exactly twenty-two lines; and on the final line are the two final words of the second portion: al ha'aretz (“upon the earth”).

The text of the two portions must be exactly as it appears in the traditional Torah text. There must be no missing or extra letters.

Two letters are written larger than the rest: the Ayin of the word Shema, and the Dalet of the word Echad. see it


3. Text on the Back of the Mezuzah

Shaddai. Two items appear on the back of the Mezuzah scroll. First is written the name Shaddai (Almighty), one of God's names.

This name is comprised of the three letters: Shin, Dalet, Yod, which are an abbreviation of the statement “Shomer Daltot Yisrael” (The Guardian of the doors of Israel). This word is written opposite the space between the two portions written on the front.

A Code. In addition, on the back of the Mezuzah, at the very top, are written three “words”. These words are actually not words at all, but rather a code.

If you take each letter of these three “words”, and substitute it with the letter which precedes it in the Hebrew alphabet (Aleph for Beit, Yod for Kaph, etc.), then what emerges is the name of God three times. These words are actually written upside-down. A Mezuzah which lacks these three words is still valid. see it

 
 
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