The KUZU controversy

When I was doing shimush in Crown Heights over 10 years ago, I observed a certain magiha making an issue of the kuzu on the back of the mezuzah. If it was not lined up PERFECTLY (letter by letter, observed against the light) k'neged the letters of the shaimos on the first line of the mezuzah, he would mention it to the customer and say that such a mezuzah lacks shmirah and ideally should be replaced. While this magiah was / is a tremendous talmid chochom, and I learned a lot from him, I always felt that he was going a bit overboard on the kuzu issue. My sentiments were further reinforced when I could not find one Rav anywhere in the world who agreed that a mezuzah should be replaced because of a slight misalignment of the kuzu.

Recently someone from crown Heights called me and told me that he had his mezuzos checked and a magiha gave him the same shpiel about the kuzu and that he should change his mezuzos. This magiha happened to be a talmid of the first magiha I mentioned in the first paragraph. At any rate, I again called a number of heavyweight rabbanim, all who told me that this is a chumrah that is unnacceptable and misleading. I relayed this to the customer and he (rightly) opted to keep his existing mezuzos.

One of the advantages of having a system of rabanim and morei horoa (i.e. daas Torah) in established fields of halacha  is to maintain a certain standard of practice that prevents deviation and misinterpretation. If every daas yochid / left field chumrah is thrown upon unsuspecting consumers,  it will cause (and does cause) tremendous confusion and ill feeling that no doubt affects all involved, including other magihim and sofrim trying to do the right thing.

Comments or feedback on this thought are appreciated.


  1. what is the makor for this chumrah please?

  2. i have been wondering about the "kuzu mechuvonos"for a while,although i agree with the auther of this post i still cannot decide how to react to sofrim that totally disregard writing the kuzu properly.
    I would like to hear the opinion of other mochrei stam,if a sofer that writes mehudar sends you mezuzos with kuzu not mechuvonos should they be returned to the sofer.

  3. I have found in my experience that 'mehudar' is quite relative.Some mezuzot I have been given around the world as "mehudar" have clear problems of lechatchila, let alone mehudar.

    Back to the point, assuming it's mehudar, I wouldn't send it back to the sofer unless a) I know the buyer would be medakdek or b) it was a once off incident for a sofer that's usually mechven with his kuzu.

  4. Shmiel, welcome to the forum

    I don't know many mochrei stam that are makpid that the kuzu should be 100% mechuvon (ie small samech to fit exactly on the nun, etc). As long as its not in a different zip code, most will be happy and there is no reason why it should not be mehudar.

    But to make an issue after the customer already has it in his house???????????

    1. I know of a magiah that when the kuzu is not mekuvan he erases it and rewrites it again.

      My question is, is this preferable?

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  6. the ramma states quite clearly that it should be. [shulchan oruch yoreh deah] lechura it is something mochrim should be educating their sofrim to be more careful about.
    [i have spoken to sofrim that dont know that this ramm'a exists]

  7. Clear that Kuzu mechuvonos is an important thing yoreh deah 288:15 rema. But to advise them that "such a mezuzah lacks shmira" is no less than an exaggeration. However touching the general question as to when should a sofer inform his client of a bidieved (although I believe that non mehudar are also included )etc... See Shavet Halevi Responsa 1:7 ois 4 where he discusses this. I do think that it will depend on the general quality of the mezuzahs that the person is bringing to check.

    For example, if the person brings 20 mezuzahs and 19 are mehudar and just 1 has a specific flaw or is not mehudar or is bidieved, I would inform them, not necessarily to tell them to switch (for certainly if it is kosher it is ok). For this is the reason why they are bringing it to be checked, in addition to knowing if it is kosher they want to know the full story.

    Concerning Kuzu, I have seen mezuzas that the line was completely on top of the Sheimos .. i.e majorly off.
    Bottom line concerning informing the customer:
    It depends individually on the case, however never should we say that the mezuza or tefillin lacks shmira if it is certainly kosher.

  8. I saw mezuzot where the kuzu on its place, but not upside down,so it was like an 'Atbash' Kuzu.
    Is it still bearable or should be erased an written over?


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