Before my dear friend Megan Wood Heldman moved to her new house, I asked her if she wanted a mezuzah on her doorpost, and the 20-minute ceremony that goes with putting it up. It’s an offer I make to any close friend who moves, Jewish or not. (Megan is not.)
I explained to her that a mezuzah is a little box, made of wood or silver, that contains a piece of parchment with the commandment to post the mezuzah on the doorpost of your house. (Mezuzah is the Hebrew word for doorpost.) Posting it is one way of fulfilling the command to love God with all your heart, soul, and might. We read the entire passage from Torah as a central part of every worship service.
In addition to writing the command on the doorpost, the passage tells us to teach it diligently to our children, speak of it in the house and in public, when we lie down and rise up, and to bind it as a sign on our hand and between our eyes.
Orthodox and many Conservative Jews do the hand and eye things during morning prayers on weekdays, using ritual objects called tefillin, phylacteries in English. Tefillin are also little boxes containing the commandment, with straps attached, and a special way of attaching them to the left arm and between the eyes.
Megan wanted a mezuzah for her new house the minute she heard what it is and what it means. We had the ceremony on her first full day in the new house (a happy coincidence, not a law.)
To perform the ceremony, I needed a book of home ceremonies, which Rabbi Robin Nafshi was kind enough to let me keep. The new version, published recently by the Central Conference of American (Reform) Rabbis, is titled, appropriately, “Al Mezuzot Beitecha, On the Doorposts of Your House,” a direct quote from the prayer we say all the time that includes the command to post a mezuzah. Mezuzot is the plural of mezuzah.
Megan was so thrilled to have the mezuzah, and the consecration ceremony, that she wrote on Facebook that night that her new place had God in it thanks to the mezuzah Ken Braiterman put on the doorpost for her. Megan is such a good, Godly person that any house she lives in has God in it, with or without a mezuzah.
But I’m deeply grateful that I got to perform the mitzvah of posting a mezuzah for my friend, and consecrating her new home.