- What can we see?
We can see letters inscribed in Hebrew. We can also see a little window with some Hebrew writing as well.
Look closely, what do you see?
- What do we know?
A Mezuzah is a scroll inside a tiny box. The box can be made of many different materials. This mezuzah is made of silver and has a Hebrew inscription. In English it reads ‘The Law is a Tree of Life’; this is a quote from the Proverbs of Solomon. Hebrew is read right to left and is the Holy language for Jewish people. Look at the bottom of the mezuzah and you will see an engraved fruit tree. This is referring to the Hebrew quote above it.
The little window is in the shape of the stone tablets which reminds us of the tablets God gave Moses with the 10 commandments written on them. You will see many Jewish objects with the symbol of the stone tablets on them. The writing visible through the window is in Hebrew and it says one of the names for God – Shaddai. The mezuzah opens up and inside, written on a rolled up piece of parchment are specific verses from the Torah. These verses are known as the Shema. The Shema is the most important prayer in Judaism because it reminds Jewish people that there is only one God.
- What do we wonder?
We might wonder who owned this mezuzah? We also might wonder how old this mezuzah is?
What do you wonder?
- Object File
Object name: Silver Mezuzah
Date: 20th Century
Catalogue number: JM588
Material(s): Silver and parchment
Size: 8.5cm in height and 1.3cm in width
On display in the Jewish Museum? Yes
The most important part of the mezuzah is the parchment inside but just like the Torah it is kept safe by its beautiful and protective case. The case can be made from many types of material including silver, wood, clay, stone, ceramic, and pewter.
Using a mezuzah is a mitzvah (a biblical commandment) because it is written in the Torah to do so. When you move into a new house you have 30 days to fix your mezuzah up to the posts of your home.
The most common place you will see a mezuzah is on the right hand side of the front door. The mezuzah is most often at an angle pointing towards the inside of the house. Some Jewish people will touch the mezuzah as they enter the house and some will touch the mezuzah and then their lips as if it was a kiss.
A mezuzah must never be sealed shut as it needs to be checked twice every seven years. If it is damaged or the Hebrew writing is flaking then it cannot be used until it is fixed or replaced.