What is a Mezuzah?


Dear Rabbi,

Would you please explain the meaning of the “funny-looking capsule” stuck on the doorposts of Jewish homes? (I mean no disrespect!)



  1. What you ask about is called a mezuzah. Affixing these “capsules” — which are actually parchments with verses from the Torah written on them, and covered with some case — is actually a mitzvah commanded by God in the Torah.

    The Torah states: “You shall write them on the doorposts (mezuzahs) of your house and upon your gates.” The word mezuzah means literally “a doorpost” in Hebrew. But, in common speech, when we speak of a mezuzah, we are referring to the special parchments that we put on the doorposts: The parchment scroll contains the first two paragraphs of the well-known “Shema” prayer that is said daily. (Deut. 6:4-9 and 11:13-21) We are told to affix these verses on our doorways, since these declare our belief in God and our commitment to follow His teachings.

    Although the Torah’s short instruction does not spell out the who, what, when, where, how, and why of the mezuzah, all of these vital details are part of the Oral Law as recorded in the Talmud and as defined in the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law).

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team