The 3 Purposes of Your Mezuzah Cover
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Your mezuzah cover must serve three purposes: halachic, practical and esthetic. Keep all three in mind when choosing a mezuzah cover.
Halacha, Jewish Law, requires that the mezuzah klaf, mezuzah scroll, be protected with a double covering. One of these coverings may be totally transparent, but the other one must be either opaque or at least translucent. Experience shows that the best method is to first wrap the mezuzah scroll in waxed paper, baking sheets or other greaseproof paper. Use of plastic cling wrap is not recommended as it tends to damage the mezuzah. The wrapped scroll is then put in the mezuzah cover of your choice, keeping in mind that the cover must be appropriate for the location where the mezuzah will be located. To learn how to properly wrap your mezuzah scroll see our article Where and How to Attach Your Mezuzah.
The Hebrew letters shin, daled and yud which spell out one of G-d's names are written on the reverse side of the mezuzah scroll in such a way as to be readable when the mezuzah is properly rolled and ready for placement in its cover. For a mezuzah on the doorway of a public area, some poskim, Rabbinical authorities, consider it an enhancement of the mitzvah for these letters to be visible and readable. Others, however, recommend that for reasons of modesty the letters should not be visible. For a mezuzah on the doorway of a private area of the house or leading to a room in which, for example, children are diapered, it is important to have these letters hidden within an opaque cover in order to safeguard the sanctity of the mezuzah from any form of immodesty or uncleanliness.
- Size: The mezuzah case must be big enough for the mezuzah
klaf. Never, never crush the mezuzah klaf to make it fit into a mezuzah case that is too small.
The case must be both long enough and deep enough to accomodate the klaf after it has been rolled
properly without creasing it or rolling it too tightly.
- Type of material: The main purpose of the mezuzah cover is to protect the klaf within it and maintain the kashrut of the klaf for the maximum length of time. Therefore, choose a material appropriate for the location where the mezuzah will be placed and the nature of the elements to which it will be exposed. For a mezuzah exposed to strong, direct sunlight choose a material such as wood that doesn't conduct heat in white, silver, gold or other heat reflecting color. Avoid dark covers that absorb heat and transparent ones that tend to intensify the sun's heat: both types could lead to damage to the klaf inside. Moisture from any source will damage your mezuzah scroll. If the mezuzah will be exposed to rain, high humidity or condensation, whether because it's mounted on an exterior doorway or it's on an aluminum frame even inside a house, choose one of HaSOFER's weather resistant mezuzah covers. These are also your best choice when mounting a mezuzah in a location subject to great variations in temperature: extremely hot in summer and very cold in winter.
- Mounting method: The best way to mount your mezuzah cover is with screws. These enable easy removal and re-attaching of the cover for the required regular examinations of the klaf. For steel doorframes or a location on which you cannot use screws, order one of our self-adhesive mezuzah covers designed for mounting without using either nails or screws.
Esthetics is a very important part of choosing a mezuzah cover. According to many poskim, an attractive mezuzah cover is a halachic adornment to the mitzvah of mezuzah expressing zeh keli ve'anveihu, adorning and enhancing a mitzvah above and beyond the minimum requirement. Therefore, choose a cover that you find really pleasing and will enjoy seeing on a regular basis!
Additional cautionary notes:
- Certain types of materials not only won't protect your mezuzah scrolls but may actually damage them. For example, open-backed covers should only be used in interior locations that are not exposed to moisture.
- The same applies to stone mezuzah covers as these tend to draw outside moisture inwards. Covers made of so-called "Jerusalem stone" are particularly liable to result in damage to the mezuzah klaf if used in a location exposed to moisture. The lime in this type of stone mixes with water that makes its way into the mezuzah cover and will actually eat away the scroll.
- Silver mezuzah covers, although a beautiful adornment of the mitzvah, require special care. The silver in the cover can damage the scroll if the receptacle for the klaf is too small. The same is true of oxides released by the silver as it tarnishes. Clean and polish your silver mezuzah cover as needed, but always remove the scroll before polishing to prevent the polish from damaging the scroll.
- Important: Always take down your mezuzot before painting the surface on which they're mounted!
Permission is granted to use and/or reprint any text portions of this material on condition that this is done for your personal, non-commercial use and the following quotation is included at the top or bottom of every page: "This material thanks to and property of HaSofer Moshe Flumenbaum. For reuse contact http://www.HaSOFER.com or info@HaSOFER.com".