And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house

Finding the trace of a mezuzah – a Jewish home blessing – is always a touching moment. The trace is a direct link to the former residents. The people are gone and with them the mezuzah. But the traces remain.

Scars on the Door Frame was one of the very first posts on my Vanished World Blog in 2013. It was about the traces of mezuzot in the old town of Lviv. Since then I’ve found them in many other towns and cities in Ukraine and Poland and they always touched me.

What is a mezuzah? It is a tubular container in which is a handwritten parchment that is mounted on the door frame. The text on the parchment consists of verses from the Torah: the prayer Shema Yisrael, beginning with the phrase “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One”.

This prayer includes also an explanation for the mezuzah. It reads:

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be upon thy heart; and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house, and upon thy gates.

Unfortunately, these traces of the past are in danger of being lost. Anyone who can afford it has a new door installed. With it the old door frame disappears and with the door frame the trace of the mezuzah is lost.

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6 thoughts on “And thou shalt write them upon the door-posts of thy house

  1. Hauntingly beautiful- The absence of presence or the presence of absence. Thank you. The Jewish people live!

  2. As a photographer, and a Jew, I really felt, I don’t know…a sense of pride, a love for my ancestors? Great collection of photos, thank you.

  3. Beautiful!!! I never thought to look for these or even that that an imprint would remain…thank you for showing this view of yesterday’s world.

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