what is the nail in the doorway of jewish homes there for?
i was wathing ben-hur and i was wondering
Hear O Israel: G-d is our G-d; G-d is one (Deuteronomy 6:4). Words we recite every morning and evening. They contain the primal statement of what it means to be a Jew: to infuse our entire day and everything we do and possess with G-d's oneness.
It is regarding these words that G-d has commanded us, “And you shall inscribe them on the doorposts of you home, and on your gates” (ibid., verse 9). Hence the Mezuzah: a parchment scroll inscribed with the verses of the Shema and affixed to the right doorpost of every room in a Jewish home.
In addition to its role as a declaration and reminder of our faith, the mezuzah is also a symbol of G-d's watchful care over the home and its dwellers. The name of G-d, Sha-dai, which appears on the reverse side of the parchment is an acronym for the Hebrew words which mean “Guardian of the doorways of Israel.” The placing of a mezuzah on the doors of a home or office protects the inhabitant–whether they are inside or out.
To properly affix mezuzahs to your doorposts you will need:
1) Kosher mezuzah scrolls–one for each qualifying doorway in your home or office.
2) Protective cases in which the rolled parchment scroll is inserted.
3) A measuring tape and pencil to mark the spot on the doorpost where the mezuzah is affixed.
4) Hammer and nails, or industrial-strength glue or double-sided tape, with which to affix the mezuzah.
5) A prayer book or printed card with the blessing.
Before you go out to purchase your mezuzahs, you need to figure out how many your house requires. Which doorways need a mezuzah?
A mezuzah is affixed to every doorway in your home or office that leads into a proper room, except for the bathroom. What qualifies as a “room”? Any enclosed space that's at least 6.5 ft. x 6.5 feet. This includes vestibules, hallways, large walk-in closets, etc.
If there are several doorways leading into a room, each doorway requires its own mezuzah. Doorways without doors (e.g., archways between rooms) also require a mezuzah. Count the doorways that qualify to determine the number of mezuzahs you need to acquire.
Now that you know how many mezuzahs you need, do some research to find the right place to purchase your mezuzahs. Because mezuzahs must be made according to very exact laws and specifications, only an expert can determine if a mezuzah is kosher.
Some basics: The mezuzah must be hand-written by a competent scribe on specially prepared parchment with the specific types of quill and ink mandated by tradition. All too often, printed or improperly prepared mezuzahs–or even empty mezuzah cases–are fraudulently sold. So make sure to purchase your mezuzahs from a trusted religious source, or ask your rabbi for help.
The mezuzah scroll is then rolled from left to right and placed right-side-up in a protective case.
You are now ready to perform the mitzvah of affixing the mezuzah. The blessing is recited once, before putting up the mezuzahs. You will put up the first mezuzah on the most important doorway–your front door, so that's where you should be standing, mezuzah and tools in hand. As you recite the blessing, keep in mind that it applies to all the mezuzahs you will be presently affixing in your home.
Recite the blessing:
Baruch Atah A-do-nai Elo-heinu Melech haolam asher kideshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu likboa mezuzah.
Blessed are you, G-d our G- d, King of the Universe, Who has made us holy with his mitzvahs and commanded us to affix a mezuzah.
We are generally accustomed to not seeing the mezuzah itself, but its case. This is a tube of metal, wood, or plastic which contains the parchment scroll. Many do not fully realize just how much skill and labor goes into the writing of a mezuzah.
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