What is a mezuzah and do I need one?
Mezuzah: (Hebrew: מזוזה, sometimes spelled mezuzah, lit. “doorpost”):A small parchment scroll on which the Hebrew words of the Sh'ma are usually handwritten by a scribe.
Mezuzah scrolls are rolled up and fixed to the doorposts of Jewish homes, reminding those who live there of their connection to Adonai and their heritage.
Are mezuzah's only for Jewish homes and what are the scriptural references for these curious door adornments?
The actual mezuzah case is not the most important part - it is instead the contents of the scroll within it. It is this scroll that contains the most beautiful and profound call from Adonai - the command that encompasses all that we read within the pages of the Word from Genesis to Revelation.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 - 4 “Sh’ma, Yisra’el! Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad [Hear, Isra’el! Adonai our God, Adonai is one]; 5 and you are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, all your being and all your resources. 6 These words, which I am ordering you today, are to be on your heart; 7 and you are to teach them carefully to your children. You are to talk about them when you sit at home, when you are traveling on the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them on your hand as a sign, put them at the front of a headband around your forehead, 9 and write them on the door-frames of your house and on your gates. (CJB)
When we follow these words, we walk in all that He has instructed us to do, all His mitzvoth and commandments, and we live a life that reflects His glory - from the inner response of our hearts to the steps we take on the road.
We put the mezuzah on our doorpost in response to this command in verse 9, which serves as a reminder when we walk into our homes and when we leave, that the Torah, the Word of our Adonai Elohim, should be with us and reflected from us at all times.
Deuteronomy 11:20-22 - 20 and write them on the door-frames of your house and on your gates — 21 so that you and your children will live long on the land Adonai swore to your ancestors that he would give them for as long as there is sky above the earth. 22 “For if you will take care to obey all these mitzvot I am giving you, to do them, to love Adonai your God, to follow all his ways and to cling to him... (CJB)
Father's word is clear - remember His commands, live by them, cling to Him and you will live a long and blessed life, a life within the boundaries of the Garden and the promise given to Avraham. Father's Word, His commands, are a sweet covering of love for each one of us. The mezuzah is a small and powerful reminder of who directs our steps and how we live as carriers of His oneness.
The words that Moshe was sharing with Israel in the wilderness were so profound, this was not just about living life - this was about their survival - their crops, livestock and the most importantly the rain - all completely deepest on the keeping the commandments of the Most High!
Let us not think for one moment that these words do not apply to our survival still!
But is this little mezuzah affixed on our doorposts rooted in a pagan practice?
Like with most ancient civilisations , we will usually find similar things practiced by the pagan cultures. This was one of them. Those worshipping false gods would fix amulets and symbols to their doorposts as a means of protection. The pagan practices were not always very far off from what we see father instructing the Israelites to do, and these instructions specifically steered His people away from the pagan methods. So, while a pagan may have had a meaningless amulet on their doorpost bringing no hope of redemption but only a small sliver of hope that they would escape the wrath of their gods, the mezuzah scroll with the Sh'ma on each Israelites doorpost, brought life and abundance in the form of a reminder to serve Adonai Elohim with all that they had.
The patterns we see with Adonai's commandments are very clear - He called us to worship Him with very specific instructions. The word remember - zakar - in Hebrew, appears 25 times in the Torah, and 14 times in Deuteronomy. It does seem that we need physical reminders - just like the instruction to wear the tzitzit and to keep the feasts perpetually until Meshiachs' return - so we need the precious scripture, held in a small box on our doorposts, that calls us to 'listen and obey'.
In Deuteronomy 27 Adonai instructs the Israelites to erect stone pillars with His commandments etched into it:
Deuteronomy 27:1-4 Then Moshe and all the leaders of Isra’el gave orders to the people. They said, “Observe all the mitzvot I am giving you today. 2 When you cross the Yarden to the land Adonai your God is giving you, you are to set up large stones, put plaster on them, 3 and, after crossing over, write this Torah on them, every word — so that you can enter the land Adonai your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as Adonai, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
These pillars formed a type of threshold, and a firm reminder, not just to Israel but to all the nations who saw them, that it was the G-d of Avraham, Yitz'cak and Ya'akov that was faithful and was able to redeem His people from out of slavery and bondage into the Promised Land, flowing with milk and honey!
Isn't this what the mezuzah says to those who cross the thresholds of our home today?
The specifics of the mezuzah
There are very specific rules and regulations set by the Jewish people for affixing and setting up the mezuzah. The name Shaddai, meaning G-d Almighty, or the letter shin always appears on the mezuzah cover.
Within the mezuzah must be the scripture Deuteronomy 6:4-9 - traditionally handwritten by a scribe in a very specific way.
When a Jewish person enters or exits the home, they kiss their fingertips, touch the mezuzah and recite Psalm 121:8 “May G-d keep my going out and my coming in from now on and ever more.”
While many believers may not keep a mezuzah, I am certain that one will find many scriptures in frames, on fridge magnets, household items and paintings throughout believers homes. The mezuzah takes on a similar approach. The scriptures around our homes serve to remind us of the faithfulness of our G-d and the call we have on our lives, to walk in faith and live a life of obedience. If we fail to 'remember' them and their meaning for us on a daily basis couldn't they too become just a religious marker or ornament?
So, whether you have felt led to acquire a mezuzah, or several, for your doorways or not, I do believe it is a prudent thing for all believers to have the Sh'ma (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) in a visible place in their homes as a daily reminder of Adona Elohim's Word, His initial call to His people that echoed into Yeshua's words and into all eternity - that we are to remember His ways and live them in His strength, shining His glory from within our hearts and by doing so, reflecting His light into all the world.
Shalom blessings as you sh'ma!