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The Mezuzah

The Protection of God

God often used symbols in the Old Testament (Tenakh) to relate principles or ideas that would become future physical and spiritual realities. The sacrifices, the prayer shawl, and the mikvah, for instance, are examples of symbols that God commanded which pointed to a physical and spiritual reality in the Messiah, Jesus. The mezuzah is another one of those symbols.

“And thou shalt write them [the commandments] upon the doorposts of thy house and upon thy gates.”(Deuteronomy 6:9)

The ancient sages believed that carrying out the commandment to attach the mezuzah [me ZUZ ah] to one’s doorpost would assure the same protection from God that the blood of the Paschal lamb afforded the Israelites during the first Pesach (Passover).
Jewish historian Flavius Josephus wrote concerning the mezuzah:

“The greatest benefits of God are to be written on the order that His benevolent providence may be made known everywhere.”

To fulfill this command, a parchment inscribed with specific Bible verses is rolled up, inserted into a case, and attached to the doorframe or doorpost (mezuzah) of one’s home. Eventually, the case containing the parchment became known as the mezuzah because its permanent attachment made it literally a part of the doorpost. It is also called the ‘shema’ (meaning ‘hear’) after the first word written on the parchment. Usually affixed at eye-level with the top tilted toward the inside of the house, it makes a ‘statement’ to all who enter in, that the Word of God is in that house.

On the back of the parchment is the word “Shaddai”, a divine name meaning ‘Almighty’ or ‘All-sufficient One’. ‘Shaddai’ is spelled with three Hebrew letters (sheen, dalet, yod) which form an acronym––Shomer Daltot Yisrael––meaning “Guardian of Israel’s Gates” or “Protector of the Doors of Israel”. The name ‘Shaddai’ also appears on the outside of the container of some mezuzot (plural); but most mezuzah only have the Hebrew letter ‘sheen’, representing ‘Shaddai’.

Because the mezuzah serves as a constant reminder of one’s loyalty to God and a source of Divine protection, many people kiss their fingertips and touch the mezuzah upon entering or leaving their homes while reciting, “May God protect my going out and coming in, now and forever.” These are gestures of reverence toward God. It is also a reminder that as one leaves his/her home, he is entering the world with the awesome responsibility to carry the Spirit of God wherever he goes. And when one returns home, he is leaving the world behind and entering into a holy place where the Spirit of God dwells.

Two scripture passages totaling 15 verses are inscribed on the parchment that is inserted in the case––Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21. The 15 verses are arranged in 22 lines, the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words, which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9 known as ‘the Shema’)

“And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today.....then I will give you...the early rain and the latter rain....lay up these words of Mine in your heart and in your soul.....You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates......”(excerpts from Deuteronomy 11:13-21)

The Mezuzah (doorpost) represents the transition between public and private, community and family, and the outer and inner realms. In the natural realm when one enters his home, he leaves the public and enters his private life with his family. The concept of one entering an inner realm through the mezuzah (doorpost) is notable when considering its connection with the Passover to which the ancient rabbis ascribed its significance as a sign of God’s protection.

This idea may be found in the biblical story of Passover (Pesach), when the children of Israel were commanded to smear blood on their doorposts to protect them from the Angel of Death. The word ‘Pesach’ comes from a Hebrew root meaning ‘to protect, guard or defend’. The most accurate understanding of Pesach, therefore, is not that God would ‘pass over’ the doorways of the Israelites; but rather that He would ‘protect, guard, or make a defense’ on their doorways, not allowing the destroyer to go in to afflict the plague.

The Israelites that put the blood of the lamb on their doorposts were those that obeyed the Word of God delivered to them by Moses. It signified that the sin of Egypt (worship of Aries the ram as their source of protection) was dead to them and that they honored only the God of Israel as their Protector. This act of obedience brought them into the ‘inner realm’ of God’s personal protection and care as He guarded their homes from the plague of death that afflicted all Egypt.

The Blood of Jesus

The Living Mezuzah

Both the mezuzah and the blood of the Paschal lamb point to Jesus. He is the Word of God (John 1:1, 14) that is written on the parchment of the Mezuzah (doorpost). Jesus protects all those who put His blood on the doorposts of their hearts when they forsake all sin and enter into a personal relationship with Him. Christians or Believers honor only the God of Israel. They, like the Israelites in Egypt, enter into the ‘inner realm’ of God’s personal protection and care when they obey His commands by the enabling power of the Holy Spirit. When the Living Word of God is active in the life of a Believer, the blood of the Lamb on the doorpost of his/her heart is ‘visible’ to the world. The ‘blood says’ sin is ‘dead’ in his or her life. Then, God guards that individual from the plague of eternal death that afflicts all the world.

The renowned Jewish philosopher, Rabbi Moses ben Maimon (Maimonides) related this wisdom concerning the command to affix the mezuzah:

“By the commandment of the mezuzah, man is reminded of the unity of God, and is aroused to the love of Him...”

Barukh HaShem (Blessed is the Name of the Lord)