A customer walks in to my office to purchase two used mezuzos. She’s in her mid to late sixties, her life is upside down, she tells me, and the mezuzah which was on her door (for the past forty four years) was also upside down. “I’m superstitious and I believe in G-d so I need kosher mezuzos” After picking out a few mezuzah cases she asks, “Are these used mezuzos not as good as new mezuzos?” “Of course not, I tell her.” “Should I get new ones?” “Of course you should”, I reply. As you may know, I sell used mezuzos because I think that under certain circumstances they are a valid option. But for somebody that can afford new mezuzos, and they are for the house that they live in, and they are only buying two mezuzos, no, I don’t think they should buy used mezuzos.
I offered her a new mezuzahh that was much nicer (better taggim, neater, etc) for $42.00. Her response? “Let me get back to you, I need to speak with someone”. I asked her, “Is it the price?” Yes, it was the price. It turns out she is going to check her Reform synagogue’s gift shop. My question for you is: If a person wants better than a used mezuza, why of all places would they even think to look in a Reform synagogue gift shop? Do they expect the sales person to be able to tell them, “Yes Mrs. Goldstein, this is a kosher mezuza, I know that the sofer had s’michah, and that it was checked over by a reliable sofer who knows how to check mezuzos.” Lets be realistic. It is not a priority of Reform synagogue gift shops to be sure that the mezuzos they sell are kosher. In fact, we all know that the case is more important to them than the scroll that is in it.
Could there be an exception out there? Sure, but we all know that what I am saying is the norm. So don’t buy mezuzos from somebody who is not an expert, and especially from a synagogue gift shop! If you do go into a gift shop to buy a mezuzah, ask them where the mezuza is from, who wrote it, does he have s’michah, who checked it, is it computer scanned, and what quality level is it. After you see that your question were not answered to your satisfaction, give me a call.
By they way, where do these gift shops get their mezuzos from? Often they are the mezuzos that knowledgeable soferim rejected from wholesalers. The wholesalers are not by and large certifying that the mezuzos that they sell are kosher, so if the gift shop doesn’t ask, this is how the wholesaler clears out his inventory of cheap mezuzos. Is the wholesaler a dishonest crook? Probably not. He probably bought a batch of mezuzos from someone, and after showing them to qualified soferim he realized that they are ‘not so good’ so he sold on the assumption that they are probably kosher on some level, and that it is the job of the person who sells to the consumer to insure that it is kosher.