a gay black woman's discovery of her jewish self

The Mezuzah Question

Posted on: March 29, 2011

Tradition says that within 20 days of moving into a new home a Mezuzah must be put up.  The mitzvah is found in Deuteronomy and has something to do with the same prayer as wrapping Tefillin and putting on a Tallit.  Oh yes, that famous prayer, the Shema.

i realize it’s what is inside that counts

Mezuzah are to be placed not only at the doorposts of our homes but at the entrance of any room with the exception of bathrooms and rooms not fitting the specific guidelines for what qualifies as a room.  Specifically, a space that must be at least two yards and have a ceiling.  So here’s the deal, and I hate complaining about a mitzvah.  I have 4 entrances to my apartment and I have 2 rooms still lacking a mezuzah.  I did put one in my bedroom, as it is the only room that I inhabit all of the time.

My first question is this.  I only use one of the four doors as my entrance.  Do I still need to put a mezuzah on the other three doors?  Second, which side of the doorpost should I place my mezuzah in rooms that have more than one way of entering?  They’re supposed to go on the right side but my kitchen goes into my livingroom which goes into my office.  Alternatively, if I start in my bedroom which goes into my kitchen into my living room into my office I have a “different” right side.  So…which right side?

Any rabbis out there reading?  HELP!

Lastly, and again I hate griping about mitzvot.  Mezuzah are so expensive!  It’s not the case but the scroll inside that counts and that’s the part that costs the money.  I understand why, a scribe took the time to write the words of the Sh’ma on a piece of kosher parchment.  It has Torah written on it, thus the words of God.  I also am a fan of good aesthetic and general style and flow so while the scroll costs a lot, the cases tend to cost just as much because I like them to look good.

9 Responses to "The Mezuzah Question"

I don’t feel this mitzvah is binding until the conversion is complete. I do not have a single mezuzah hanging. If you don’t want to put one on every door then I’d start with the door you use then work toward getting a scroll for the others.

As far as hanging it, why not ask a Rabbi to come over and hang them? That is what I plan to do.

I’m trying to incorporate as many mitzvot as I can into my life pre conversion so that I’m not overwhelmed after I come out of the mikvah! I want to come out feeling slightly overwhelmed at the fact that I’m a Jew but at the same time with a sense of calm. I can’t have 613 mitzvot all rushing at me at once! ;)

On a more serious note, I had them in my last apartment. Two specifically because I only had one room that qualified as a room. Miriam and I put them up together and said the blessing before Shabbat. I was thinking of putting them all up when I have my housewarming party with friends. I like doing them myself. Plus, I’m not sure any of the rabbis would shlep to Brooklyn to hang a mezuzah for me. Not that they wouldn’t if I asked, they’re all great. I’d just feel guilty making them ;)

I have so much to say about this post!

the mezuzah always goes on the right of the doorpost as you enter it. if there is confusion as to which is the “entry” think of how you enter the room after walking into your front door. In order for it to require a mezuzah according to most minhagim (customs), you need to have a full door post entering the room. this means there must be some wall or post on top. If you noticed in my apartment, we don’t have a mezuzah leading from the hall to the living/dining area because there is no separation on top from the hall to the room. Also, we were told we don’t need one by the window (apparently it doesn’t matter how many times one climbs out of it it is still not considered a door – info my landlady should think about.) Every apartment is different and it never hurts to ask.

as for the cost, I can only commiserate. Check Judaica stores in Flatbush and Williamsburg and ask if you can have a price break if you buy more than one or one with a case. Bargaining goes a long way in those stores. When I was in college our chabad gave out free mezuzahs if we promised to fulfill the mitzvah in its entirety. You might want to search for similar initiatives esp. with schools.

I hope I answered most of the questions… :)

Ayelet-Thanks, woman! I love that you’ve given me lots of information! It’s always refreshing to have insight ;) I was thinking of calling the “right side” based on the door I come through as my front door as well. Which will make some on the “right side” and some on the “left side” I have a pocket door and an acordian door so the mezuzah in those will be smaller and I’m afraid hard to see.

I never thought about bargaining with the Judaica stores! People do that? There’s a little store in Ditmas Park Mir and I go to called Hecht’s that’s super sweet and super cute. It’s where I got my Hanukkah menorah. They always have antique/vintage items there. It’s where I hope to find my Seder Plate. Maybe I’ll give them a call and check to see if they have a multi-mezuzah discount ;)

So, I actually came across your website as I was hunting down info on mezuzah etiquette myself. So first of all, greetings!

Second, in my search, I also found this comment from Chabad.org. While I like the other commenter’s suggestion about hanging it in relation to the front door, this may also help:

http://www.chabad.org/library/howto/wizard_cdo/aid/278465/jewish/5-Mark-the-Spot.htm

Shalom,

AJ

First, welcome to Black, Gay, and Jewish AJ! Lovely to have you on for the ride! Thanks so much for the link! Chabad.org is one of my favorite go-to sites for all things halachic!

[...] be placing a mezuzah in any other areas of the property but our own. Last March I wrote a post about hanging mezuzahs (mezuzot?) and we’re here again. I’m working on a post for Jewcy about mezuzahs so I [...]

Hello,
I came across this post… I am an artist that designs and creates one ok a kind Mezuzot, Please check out my site:
https://www.etsy.com/shop/sherricohendesign

sherricohendesign.com

Thanks for Looking!

Thanks, Sherri! I actually need about two more for our house!

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