hatam_soferet: (esther)
( Nov. 25th, 2013 06:49 pm)

This will be no surprise to anyone ever, but Montreal in winter is COLD. I went outside after a shower the other day, and my hair FROZE. With actual ice in it.

Unrelatedly, here is a picture of a mezuzah I wrote today:

Available here.

Mirrored from hasoferet.com.

I thought that crash was just Them Upstairs dropping something.

Turns out it was the mezuzah falling off my bedroom door. I’d taken it off for a Hebrew school on Sunday, and apparently not stuck it back on hard enough.

I found the mezuzah case some hours later, in the middle of the hall. That’s where the dog leaves things she’s stolen.

It’s empty.

I can’t see the scroll anywhere.

Since mezuzot are made from parchment, and parchment is first cousin to rawhide, and the dog loves rawhide, I rather suspect that the dog has eaten it.

There are few things more annoying than discovering that the dog has eaten your mezuzah. Perhaps first among them is discovering that the dog has eaten your very small mezuzah that it took you hours and hours to write and the accompanying realisation that you will have to do it all over again.

The moral is: use nails instead of sticky pads when attaching mezuzot.

Mirrored from hasoferet.com.


I was going to give a class on checking your own mezuzah, but it got prevented by weather. Today I found the notes I’d made for it, so I’m typing them up.

But I’m not putting in the pictures here because that’ll take hours of scanning and photographing; if you want those you’ll have to get me to come give the class.

Anyway, this is what we would have covered:

Is the mezuzah written on parchment, or printed on paper?
Does it have all the words? (checking using a tikkun; checking using the internet)
Are all the original letters there? (flaking, damage)
Are they still in good repair? (cracking)
Theoretical interlude: why repairing letters out of order is problematic
Technical bit: checking to see if the letters have their proper form (this is the bit that requires lots of training and practice, but there are some things that you can see straight away, like letters which are connected, or really egregious malformations).

Such a class is not going to equip the average mezuzah-user to say “Yes, this mezuzah is definitely kosher,” but it will equip said user to know if their mezuzah is not kosher, or if they should be worried.

As ever, for more information I heartily recommend the book Tefillin and Mezuzos: A Pictorial Guide by Yerachmiel Askotzky. You can buy it here at his site.

Mirrored from hasoferet.com.

Q: Do you write mezuzot? Can you write some for me?

A: The thing about mezuzot is that unlike megillot, there's no way to justify women writing them, outside of wholesale egalitarianism. Not even in Shira Chadasha-type egalitarian Orthodoxy. I can't write you mezuzot unless you're okay with saying me and a man have exactly the same level of obligation to lay tefillin.

If you are okay with that, I personally probably don't have time to write you a mezuzah because they take me ages and I get headaches, but I have various students and friends who can do you very nice mezuzot in the $40-60 range, so email me.
Would anyone like to do a little bartering?

What you get: A mezuzah written for you by one of my students
What you give: Tax preparation for a freelancer who moved to NYC from CT during the last year.

You do her taxes, she writes you a mezuzah... email me if interested. A nice mezuzah. Not one of those rubbishy little scribbled jobbies.

(Female student, hence this mezuzah is no good to you if you have a non-egal household...c'est la vie.)
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Mar. 20th, 2008 09:36 pm)
I'm so evil sometimes.

Student S has been learning with me since the beginning of the year. We spend three and a half hours together on Wednesdays, practical and theory, and she works in her free time as well so she's making awesome progress.

And looking at her latest work this Wednesday, I reckon she's about ready to start a proper mezuzah. I know this will come as something of a surprise to her, because she tends to underestimate herself, so I just drop it in, ever so casually, over her shoulder while she's working - Okay, this is looking really nice now...I'd say you could start that mezuzah whenever you feel like it - knowing perfectly well that she's going to be entirely gobsmacked (Huh? Me? Mezuzah? Yikes!), and anticipating amusement.

Which was rather evil, imo. But it was funny.
As with most ritual activities, there are ways to hang a mezuzah and ways not to hang a mezuzah. This link takes you to stam.net's comprehensive directions on how to hang a mezuzah. This post has some examples of how not to hang a mezuzah.

It's a good idea to wrap the scroll in something before putting it in the case; it protects it from dust and other airborne yuk, and to some degree from moisture. R' Askotzky at stam.net recommends wax paper. Some sellers will roll them up for you in plastic wrap.

This applies particularly if the case is openwork, even more particularly if it's going to get painted over. On the whole, it's better to take the mezuzah down before painting.

In this particular case, paint had trickled down inside the roll, so that some of the letters were completely obliterated.


And it had stuck to the case.


And when it was finally extracted from the case, see what had happened!

This is a spectacular example of why coated mezuzot are not a good idea. The parchment of a coated mezuzah is covered with white paint before the scribe starts to write This makes the surface much smoother, so the mezuzah is easier to write and the scribe can fit more into his day. This means they can be sold more cheaply.

Unfortunately, paint is more brittle than parchment, and it has a tendency to crack and flake. Here, moisture from wet paint has affected the surface - steamy kitchens, hot radiators, and humid weather can have similar effects. The paint and the parchment react to moisture and heat at different rates, and they pull apart because they're doing different things. The mezuzah very easily becomes pasul (invalid). Uncoated mezuzot are certainly rather more expensive, but they're much less likely to go pasul.

Left: it's not nice to roll it with the writing on the outside. Neither is it nice to roll it top to bottom. It's supposed to be rolled side to side; if you roll it top to bottom and then hang it, the writing lies sideways instead of being upright.

At right: upside down. The three words כוזו במוכסז כוזו are supposed to be at the top, and they're supposed to look upside down. When those words look the right way up, the scroll is upside down. (Further reading: Mezuzah in the Jewish Encyclopaedia, scroll down to the section on Superstitious Conception.)

hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Jan. 26th, 2006 06:55 pm)
An article about women in Minsk who write mezuzot - fascinating.

If you haven't got a login, bugmenot@poo.com and passwd bugmenot seem to work.


hatam_soferet: (Default)

February 2017

1920 2122232425


RSS Atom

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags