Mezuzah Fraud

Question

Dear Rabbi, I am making a needlepoint cover case for a mezuzah and there are two inserts available. One is hand-written, the other one is reproduced. Is there a religious difference, or just a price difference?

4 months

Answers

  1. The “insert” is the actual mezuzah and it must be handwritten. The mitzvah for writing and fixing a mezuzah on the doorpost states, “And you will write them on the doorposts of your homes and gates.” (Deut. 6:9) The word “write” means to actually write the words of the mezuzah.

    Having a kosher mezuzah on our homes has always been a well-kept mitzvah throughout history, and is virtually universally observed today as well. Rabbi Moses ben Nachman (15th century Spain), in his classical commentary on the Torah, writes that one who buys a mezuzah and affixes it to his doorway is thus acknowledging and broadcasting to the world his devotion to the central beliefs of Judaism.

    The laws of mezuzah are precise and complex. For example, the mezuzah must be written by a knowledgeable, qualified Jewish scribe. It must be written with special ink upon animal parchment set aside expressly for this purpose. Only certain erasures are allowed.

    All these conditions and more make a valid mezuzah more expensive than an invalid one. This plus rampant ignorance has opened the mezuzah market to a flood of bogus mezuzahs. A recent study found that upwards of 90 percent of all mezuzahs were invalid. Any “Judaica” dealer who sells photocopied “mezuzahs” is either totally ignorant about mezuzahs or is simply dishonest. Either way, any mezuzah he sells, even a handwritten one, can be assumed to be invalid. The only way to get a valid mezuzah is to buy it from a qualified, Orthodox, knowledgeable, God-fearing scribe or retailer.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team