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Mezuzah Scrolls Guide
You can find a mezuzah on the doorpost of just about every Jew in the US and around the world. While the mezuzah typically refers to the box or case that houses the mezuzah scroll, it is actually the handwritten mezuzah scroll that fulfills the mitzvah of mezuzah, and therefor is the most important part. The mezuzah scroll features the blessings and is housed inside of the mezuzah.
What is a Mezuzah Scroll?
A mezuzah scroll is a small parchment inscribed with short Torah passages in Hebrew. The parchment is rolled up, placed in a mezuzah (decorative case), and attached to the doorpost of Jewish homes. In order for a mezuzah scroll to be kosher an observant Jewish scribe (called a Sofer) must carefully write on kosher parchment using a kosher quill. The text in the mezuzah scroll is the passages of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Deuteronomy 11:13-21. The text must be written perfectly and in the correct order. Once finished the mezuzah scroll is carefully checked by an expert for textual errors and incorrectly formed letters then rolled, placed inside a mezuzah and affixed to the post on the right side of entry. The standard size of a mezuzah is 6 - 15cms. It is difficult to write smaller and still remain kosher.
The mezuzah scroll is made of a parchment and is handwritten with special ink. The parchment in which the mezuzah scroll is made of must come from the skin of a kosher animal, usually a lamb or goat. The black ink used is specially prepared from vegetable ingredients. In addition, the quill used to write the text must be taken from a kosher fowl such as a turkey or a goose.
The text on the mezuzah scroll comes from the passages of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Deuteronomy 11:13-21 and contains the first two paragraphs of the “Shema” prayer as well as the “Vehaya”. The text contains 22 lines of 713 letters. Each line and letter must be written exactly, any mistakes or missing letters invalidates the entire parchment.
On the back of the scroll, the word Shaddai, the name of God, is written in Hebrew. Shaddai's three Hebrew letters - shin, dalet, yad - stand for the phrase shomer daltot Yisrael, "protector of the doors of Israel." When placing the mezuzah in the case or on the wall, the Hebrew word Shaddai, should be facing outward (i.e. toward the entrance once it is affixed).