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What does Mezuzah and Tefillin Inspection Entail?

  •  What is examined and what should be examined in mezuzot and tefillin?


a.      The sofer must be well versed in the halachot (Jewish laws) and must articulate the bracha (blessing) “I write this for the sanctity of the mezuzah” and say a similar blessing each time he writes Hashem’s name.
In addition, one must ascertain that the writing was continuous, without subsequent corrections, in Halachic terminology- “written in the proper order”. All this can be determined only if the identity of the sofer is known.

b.      It is important to ensure that the mezuzah was not written by a goy (a gentile), a student of graphics, while lazing on the beach on a Shabbat afternoon…  Rumor has it that these mezuzot too can be found on sale in shops…

c.       The mezuzah should be hand printed in Ashkenazi or Sephardic writing, consistent with the custom of its owner.  All letters should be legible, whole and written properly (in many cases the small cheap mezuzot are only kosher ex post facto, if at all.) 

In Halachic terminology, all the letters should be unbroken, no letter touching another, and surrounded on all sides by parchment.

d.      The characters should be close to the lines. This halacha passed down from Moshe (Moses) on Mt. Sinai indicates that the mezuzah should be scored  Therefore, the writing should be upright and close to the lines.

e.      When the ink is faded, it is possible restore the lettering, only if it is still recognizable. However, if the words are detached in the middle, or there are wide cracks or partial letters, they cannot be repaired unless the shape of the letters is still visible. 
For instance a vav (a Hebrew letter) that has a disconnected leg is a yud (a different Hebrew letter) and according to halacha it cannot be repaired.

f.        The tagged letters must have the tags on them.  These tags must be connected to the "roof" of the letters and not hang in the air.
Conversely, the tags themselves must be separated one from the other since if they are stuck to one another they will form the letter shin (a Hebrew letter) above the letter.

g.      There may not be any extra letters or words. It is here we must clarify that there are several words in the mezuzah with diverse spellings owing to their position on the parchment mezuzah, such as words written with a vav for plural and those in which the vav is omitted (mezuzot or totafot both appear in two different places with different spellings.)

h.      There should be no "separations" or "connections" between the words. For example, sometimes there is too large a space between the letters, such as: instead of "al levavchem" (in your heart) it says al lev vachem (connoting “on the heart) or instead of "le'ahava" (to love) it says Lea ba (Lea is inside”). 
There are also cases when two words are too close to each other and thus form one word.

i.         There should be no pinholes in the parchment next to a letter with a small opening since that would invalidate the writing, in the words of the halacha: "an absence of surrounding parchment".  Quite often, it is possible to correct this situation by scraping some of the ink around the pinhole.

Interestingly enough, despite the requirement to write the letters in their proper order, (it is forbidden to correct one letter after another consecutively, nevertheless it is possible and permitted to "bridge" or "separate", between truncated words and to "create" the correct word.

 For example in the case described above, "al lev vachem", it is possible to elongate the letter bet in stages and thus formulate the correction, even though by doing this one is "creating" a new word, which theoretically means that the words were not written in the proper order. 
This has very interesting "spiritual" connotation- the importance of all the letters being written in the proper (chronological) order, and this because of their supernatural power and the words that could possibly be created later on…

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Invalid Mezuzha.The letters  was written  wrong.To enlarge, click hereInvalid Mezuzha.The letters was written wrong.To enlarge, click here
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