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Laws of the Mezuzah: Dwelling
1. General Criteria

It has become the accepted practice to place a Mezuzah on the doorpost of every single room of a Jewish home, office or institution, as long as it meets the following conditions:

Purpose: The dwelling is a permanent one and is meant for dignified, human habitation.
Structure. The room is enclosed by walls, and has a ceiling and a door.
Size. The room is at least 16 square cubits (approximately 36-64 square feet).
Doorway. The doorway is used as an entrance, has two doorposts and a ‘lintel’ (the horizontal, top part of the doorway), and is it least 10 handbreadths (about 3 feet 4 inches) tall and 4 handbreadths (about 1 foot 4 inches) wide.

It should be noted that the clear majority of the rooms of your home will definitely meet these criteria. Thus, your front and back doors, kitchen, dining room, living room, den, bedrooms, playrooms, laundry rooms, doors to a staircase, etc. – in other words, the typical doorways of your house – will most likely require a Mezuzah.

And this applies whether your home is a house, rented apartment or condominium.

2. No Mezuzah Here

The following rooms would not require a Mezuzah, since they do not satisfy the criteria specified above:

Bathrooms. They do not satisfy the criteria of “dignified” use. Similarly, locker rooms or change rooms and the like would not require a Mezuzah.

Small closets. They are generally too small to require a Mezuzah. However, large walk-in closets would require a Mezuzah.

Cars. Although “car mezuzahs” can be found in many Judaica stores, cars and most other vehicles definitely do not require a Mezuzah, since their purpose is transportation. However, a mobile home would require a Mezuzah.

Sukkah. Your Sukkah does not require a Mezuzah, since it is a temporary dwelling.

Synagogues. Only dwellings used for ‘mundane’, not holy, use require a Mezuzah. However, all other rooms in a Synagogue building, such as offices, classrooms, etc., would indeed require a Mezuzah.

3. Special Cases

The following cases have received much attention and debate among the authorities, both medieval and modern. General guidelines are provided here, but since the details will vary from case to case, it would be best to consult a reliable Halakhic authority.

Garages. If the garage is used for parking the car only, then it is questionable whether it requires a Mezuzah. If it is used to store other items as well, then there is less of a doubt. It would be advisable to put up a Mezuzah without reciting a blessing.

Sheds. There is much debate among the authorities whether outdoor sheds or storage rooms require a Mezuzah. It would thus be advisable to put up a Mezuzah without a blessing.

Note that sheds – or garages – which are also used as workshops would unambiguously require a Mezuzah, and the blessing would be recited.

Dormitories. The case where one is living in a dormitory is very unclear. There are many variables involved, and therefore it is very difficult to give a general ruling. Each situation should be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Stables. There is much debate as well regarding animal domiciles, such as a stables. Here too, it would be advisable to put up a Mezuzah without a blessing.
© Baal Shem Tov Foundation 2003-2005

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