Authorized Reproductions From The Holy Land

Is the Piece Really a Mezuzah

Mezuzah fragmentOr, Perhaps Something Else?

The /mezuzah/, traditionally affixed to the doorposts of the house by most Jews, contains two passages from the book of Deuteronomy — 6:4-9 and 11:18-20 — enjoining the faithful to write the words of God “on the doorframes of your house and on your gates.” The passages in question also say, however, that one is to “bind them on your hands and [put them as a symbol] on your foreheads.” So, the same text can also be used for a diferent purpose: to make /tefillin/.

Two boxes were traditionally crafted to hold the texts for the hands and the forehead. They had straps attached to them to facilitate the binding. These are called /tefillin/תפילין)) in Hebrew, a word usually
translated as “phylacteries.” That Greek word has come to us from the Greek of the New Testament (Matthew. 23:5) , where Jesus, in his condemnation of the Pharisees, castigates them for outward observance — wearing large tefillin, for example — while ignoring inner goodness and purity.

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Photo courtesy of the IAA.

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