Commemorating World Famous Mezuzah Bat Mitzvah!
World Famous Mezuzah, a Hebrew cultural artefact and pride of the collection of the Contemporary Museum of Calligraphy, celebrates its 12th anniversary.
Alexey Shaburov receives the turkey quill which Avraham Borshevsky used to write the World Famous Mezuzah as a gift to the museum
Mezuzah* is a sacred Hebrew roll with Moses’s biblical prophecy dating back to the 13th century BC. A correctly written (kosher) mezuzah serves as a guarantee of a long and prosperous life for all the inhabitants of a household.
The word mezuzah is feminine in the Hebrew, Russian and English languages. According to the Jewish tradition, when a girl turns 12 it is considered her religious adulthood and is called Bat Mitzvah. A girl of 12 years and 1 day of age is entitled to follow all the commandments stated for women in the Torah. The parents of a girl turning 12 organize a celebration of the remarkable day. Recently it’s becoming popular to celebrate Bat Mitzvah on a really wide scale.
Exactly 12 years ago, on the Jerusalem Day, May 19, 2004 / Iyar 28, 5764 by the Hebrew calendar, the famous Israeli calligrapher Avraham Borshevsky finished the writing of a special manuscript: a mezuzah. That mezuzah was written on a kosher parchment of an unbelievable size with striking skills in implementing the religious canons and the aesthetics of the calligraphy work.
The inside of the World Famous Mezuzah, photo from the museum exposition
In response to the tenacious remarks from the media, the religious court in Bnei Brak presided by rabbi Klein issued a precedent-setting ruling pronouncing the bigger size of mezuzot more appropriate for the keeping of the commandment. The news of the extraordinary mezuzah crossed the borders of Israel and made an entry to the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest mezuzah. The sensational news about the record setting mezuzah was carried around the world by such news agencies as Reuters, Associated Press, and others.
The Guinness World Book of Records certificate, from the museum exposition
The Israeli community responded to all the commotion by preparing a Book of Kosher Records, published in Hebrew and English. The third edition of this book recognized the mezuzah created by Avraham Borshevsky as the most famous and expensive in history, and released to the public domain the ruling, issued by a distinguished rabbi Shmuel HaLevi Wosner (1913-2015) stating that such a big mezuzah would not require installment in a correspondingly large doorpost. Thus, this mezuzah enriched the Hebrew law with a second precedent-setting ruling.
The Chief Rabbi of the Russian Armed Forces Aharon Gurevich presents the Contemporary Museum of Calligraphy with the World Famous Mezuzah
In Russia, Borshevsky’s famous mezuzah was dubbed World Famous Mezuzah, and since 2009 it’s been one of the gems of the collection of the Contemporary Museum of Calligraphy and the International Exhibitions of Calligraphy.
The welcome address from the Head Rabbi of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, from the museum exposition
Celebrating this unusual anniversary of the equally unusual manuscript, our Museum congratulates the Israeli calligrapher Avraham Borshevsky and all calligraphy lovers on this remarkable date!
The World Famous Mezuzah in the museum exposition
According to the Hebrew tradition, through the prophets Adam and Noah God gave in commandment to the humanity 7 basic laws (the so called Noahide Laws). Later through the great prophet Moses (14th century BC) God gave in commandment to the people of Jerusalem 613 Torah commandments. Mezuzah is a sacred Hebrew manuscript containing, in pursuance of one of the 613 commandments, a quotation from the Five Books of Moses (Deuteronomy VI, 4‑9 and XI, 13-21) written on a parchment. The text of a mezuzah is not a prayer to God but a prophecy from the humanity to God, stating the mission of the Jewish people and the way of its fulfillment through monotheism, love of God and implementation of the 613 Torah commandments in the promised land. The text of every mezuzah is standard and contains 15 rhymes from the Scripture, written in the original language of the Biblical Hebrew. The text is written on a parchment made from the skin of a kosher animal by a specially prepared scribe. After finishing the text the mezuzah is expertly checked for any flaws. The rolled manuscript is places inside a special casing, which is, after pronouncing a special blessing, affixed to a doorpost of a Jewish household.
The full mezuzah text:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord, your G-d, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your resources. And these things that I command you today shall be upon your heart. And you shall teach them to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you go on the way, when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign upon your arm and they shall be an ornament between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates. And it will be that if you hearken to my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord, your God, and to serve him with all your hearts and all your souls. And I will place rain for your land in its proper time, the early and the late rains, that you may gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil. And I will provide grass in your field for your cattle, and you will eat and you will be satisfied. Watch yourselves, lest your heart be seduced and you turn astray and serve other gods, and prostrate yourselves to them. And the wrath of God will be upon you, and he will restrain the heaven and there will be no rain, and the ground will not yield its produce, and you will be lost quickly from upon the good land that God gives you. And you shall place these words of mine on your hearts and on your souls, and you shall bind them as a sign upon your arms and they shall be ornaments between your eyes. And you shall teach them to your children to discuss them, when you sit in your house and when you go on the way, and when you lie down and when rise up. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates, in order to prolong your days and the days of your children upon the good land that God swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of Heaven over earth.”
Source: Deuteronomy VI, 4‑9, and XI, 13-21