9. I saw a little box affixed to the entrance of the homes of the Jews; what is it?




It is the Mezuzah (Hebrew word which means ‘doorpost’) which consists of a piece of parchment, made from the skin of a clean animal upon which the following verses Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21 are hand written by a scribe in Hebrew. The parchment is rolled up and inserted in a case with a small aperture. On the back of the parchment the word Almighty, but also the initial letters of ‘Guardian of the doors of Israel’, is written, and the parchment is so inserted that the word is visible through the aperture. It is affixed to the right hand doorpost of the house. All this is done by the Jews because in the law God commanded the Jews to write the commandments on the doorposts of their houses (Deuteronomy 6:9).

It is customary among the pious Jews, on entering or leaving, to kiss the Mezuzah or touch it and kiss the fingers in order to remember not to sin.

Many Jews who are influenced by the Kabbalah regard the Mezuzah as a talisman; according to the Jewish tradition demons cannot live in a house which has the mezuzah and the evil forces which infest a house leave the house after the mezuzah has been affixed to the doorposts. In ancient times, among the Jews, when a pestilence or a catastrophe or a tragedy struck a Jewish community or a family, the mezuzoth (plural of mezuzah) were checked to see if the text was spoilt. This practice is still widespread among the Jews Chasidim (‘the pious’) who are one of the groups of the variegated and fragmented Orthodox Judaism. Some Jews wear a mezuzah around the neck as a charm.

We who are Christians don’t need to write the commandments of God on the doorposts of our houses because God wrote them on our hearts and in our minds, as it is written: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Hebrews 8:10 – NKJV. cf. Hebrews 10:16)