What is a "Cheap" Mezuzah? (Not for sale at the Sofer Center)
We do not sell Mezuzos of such inferior quality.
When it comes to purchasing Mezuzos it is important to realize, that like everything the more you pay the more you get. It takes a properly trained Sofer several hours to write a Mehudar Mezuzah, so as you can imagine if you see a Mezuzah being sold for thirty dollars alarm bells should go off in your head.
Mezuzos for $40-50 in the best situation were written in one hour and the person writing it could not care less if this Mezuzah ended up being Kosher or not, it is written so quick and carelessly that many many issues are found in these Mezuzos (See Image on the right) issues most common are: Letters, Words or/and Tagim that are Missing, Extra, Substituted, Touching, Broken. Improperly Spaced and Deformed. Not only are these Mezuzos not Mehudar (Beautifying the Mitzvah) or Kosher Lechatchila (A preferred status) they are at best Kosher Bedieved (minimally Kosher) and very often out right Possul.
Someone who can write a Mezuzah like that and either does not care or does not know any better is not qualified and definitely not Certified to write Mezuzos. We can not trust that they know or follow the laws in Shulchan Aruch in regards to writing Mezuzos and we can not rely that the Mezuzos they right are Kosher (Not all errors in Mezuzos are detectable by the eye after they are written, for more info on this follow Link).
In most cases Mezuzos like this come from Israel and it is a known fact that they are either being written by Arabs or non religious Israelis and Students looking to make a few extra dollars in their spare time.In the early 1980’s the Judaica market was flooded with cheap Mezuzas that came sealed in packages endorsed by the Israeli Rabbinate.
An investigation was made and it was discovered that the Israeli Rabbinate did not endorse these Mezuzos and in fact many were written by unqualified Sofrim / Scribs or collected from old posul / Not Kosher Mezuzos awaiting burial.
The Chief Rabbinate informed the public not to use such Mezuzos and that the endorsement was null and void. Unfortunately these Mezuzos are still around and still being produced today.
That is why it is important to purchase from someone you can trust that his Mezuzos come from a Kosher source even if it costs more.
What is a Mehudar Mezuzah?
A nice Mehudar Mezuzah can take a Sofer as much as three and a half hours to write. Before he writes he makes sure to immerse in a Mikvah. When he writes he makes sure to say the letters and words to infuse them with the Kedusha of the Torah.
He checks each line over before writing the next, He cares about the end product. He takes pride in his work, in a sense like an artist takes pride in his painting, but even more so the mere thought of a letter being written incorrectly horrifies him.
A Sofer who is a Yirei Shomaim wants his Mezuzos to draw down Hashem's Kedusha/Holiness in to this world, and he is honored to be able to be the vessel in which it comes about. He is not primarily writing for financial benefit.
As you can imagine because so much time and effort is vested into nice Mehudar Mezuzah they can easily cost one hundred and fifty dollars, while some can reach as far as two hundred and fifty.
The more Mehudar it is the more it will cost.
Mehudar means two things:
A) Aesthetic beauty, the Torah says “ze keli vi anveihu” which translates to “this is my G-D and I will glorify him” we learn from here that it is proper to adorn the mitzvos, that our observance of the mitzvos be a beautiful as possible. In our terms here it refers to a beautiful Ksav.
B) More importantly it is referring to the Halachik aspect, to fulfill the Mitzvah on the strictest level. A level that every Halachik authority would agree is Lechatchila and that it is the most kosher it could be.
But remember just because a Mezuzah is not Mehudar does not mean it is not Kosher. There are several factors that make a Mezuzah Mehudar. The more they have the more Mehudar they are to name just a few;
1) Beautiful Ksav. Simply it means that the letters are beautiful, their length and height are symmetrical, and the Sofer followed closely the intended Ksav and did not veer off.
2) That the letters are formed properly and that there never was any doubt over the form of any of the letters.
3) None of the letters are touching from the time of the writing (there are opinions that say that any letters touching from the time of the writing even if they don’t loose their form or form another letter is invalid. Although the Halacha is not like them for Mehudar we want to encompass all Halachic authorities).
4) No questionable spacing, the words and letters need to be spaced properly and evenly as to assure which letters belong to which word.
5) The letters have the crowns written on the letters as the letters are formed. In many cheaper Mezuzos the words are first written, and then later someone else adds the crowns afterwards.(there are opinions that say they need to be formed as part of the letter.)
6) All the letters that need, have additional crowns as specified according to Kabbalah.
7) According to Halacha the letter Lamed has two crowns/tagim. Kabbalah explains that the tag on the right side corresponds to kindness, and the one on the left, to severity. Consequently, it is of utmost importance that the right tag be taller than the left one, ultimately drawing down kindness from Above.
8) The names G-D on the back of the Mezuzah are in the correct place corresponding to the names of G-D on the front of the Mezuzah.