How to affix a mezuzah on an archway (Advanced Guide)

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Archways represent some of the most difficult questions regarding hilchos mezuzah. This is because there are multiple layers of machlokos amongst the Rishonim, sometimes making it impossible to fulfil all opinions. In fact, an entire sefer would be required to plumb the depths of this issue properly. We will therefore limit ourselves to the practical halacha of how to affix a mezuzah on an archway.

Mezuzah on an Archway - An Overarching Question

Inasmuch as we know that two posts and a lintel create a halachic doorway relative to hilchos mezuzah, the questions poskim grapple with are whether or not archways actually possess doorposts and a lintel. And if they do, where do the doorposts end and the lintel begin?

The answer very much depends on the type of archway under discussion. We can distinguish between,

  1. An archway which is curved from the bottom.
  2. An archway which begins with straight posts and is only is curved from a higher point. (Anytime we refer to an archway which “begins with straight posts” the intent is a height of 10 tefachim [approximately 31-38 inches]. If the straight posts do not extend to that height, it is considered as though the posts are curved from the bottom.)


It is further necessary to distinguish between,

  1. An archway which is built into a wall, and
  2. An archway which is a freestanding structure.


While practically speaking there is no significant difference since the poskim will generally recommend affixing a mezuzah anyway, nevertheless, it is important to be aware of the order of priorities. This is because, often, when multiple leniencies come into play in unison, the “need” for a mezuzah decreases proportionally. Similarly, regarding the requirement to make a beracha (blessing) the aforementioned factors play a large role.

The levels, from most stringent to least stringent are as follows:

  1. An archway which begins with straight posts, is curved only at a higher point, and is built into a wall. (A beracha may be recited [assuming there is a door as well].)
  2. An archway which begins with straight posts, is curved only at a higher point, and is a freestanding structure. (No beracha is recited.)
  3. An archway which is curved from the bottom and is built into a wall. (No beracha is recited.)
  4. An archway which is curved from the bottom and is a freestanding structure. (No beracha is recited)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Where to Affix the Mezuzah?

Since the primary halachic issue regarding archways is determining where the posts end and where the lintel begins, clearly the question of how to affix the mezuzah on an archway looms large.

Regarding an archway which begins with straight posts and is curved only at a higher point, the height at which the two sides of the arch come within four tefachim of each other is the point which is halachically considered to be the top of the doorway.

If,

  • the arch begins at a height above 2/3 of the overall height of the halachic doorway and,
  • enough room is available to place the actual mezuzah (not the case) lower than one tefach from the top of the straight doorposts, then


the mezuzah should be affixed in that area. [Fig 1] (If a smaller mezuzah would fit in that area, and one of reasonable quality is available, the smaller mezuzah should be used.)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
How to hang a mezuzah on an archway 2
Fig. 1

If,

  • the arch begins at a height above 2/3 of the overall height of the halachic doorway and,
  • enough room is not available to place the actual mezuzah (not the case) lower than one tefach from the top of the straight doorposts, then


the mezuzah should be affixed above 2/3 of the overall halachic height even though it is within one tefach of the top of the straight doorposts. [Fig. 2]

 
 
 
 
How to hang a mezuzah on an archway 1
Fig. 2

If,

  • the arch begins at the near precise height of 2/3 of the overall height of the halachic doorway and therefore,
  • enough room is not available to place the actual mezuzah (not the case) on the straight doorposts, then


the mezuzah should be affixed above 2/3 of the overall halachic height even though it on the arch itself. No beracha is recited.

Regarding an archway which is curved from the bottom, the halachic doorway extends from the bottom of the posts until the height at which the two sides of the arch come within four tefachim of each other. One then affixes the mezuzah above 2/3 of the height of the halachic doorway and one tefach distant from the top of the halachic doorway. As stated, no beracha is recited.

 
 
 

Rabbi Reuvain Mendlowitz

Author of "Inside STA"M - A Complete Buyer's Guide"

2 Responses

    1. Hi Pinchos,
      There are many different variations of garden arches. In most cases a mezuza is required.
      However, whether it should be affixed with a beracha or without one – as well as which side is considered the “right” side, are questions which vary from case to case.
      All the best,
      Reuvain Mendlowitz

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