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    Mezuzah in prison – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Is a mezuzah needed on a caravan, a market stall or a prison cell?

    A. The Shema requires a mezuzah “on the doorposts of your house and on your gates”.

    The criterion is whether a particular place is a dirah – a dwelling. If the area is about 8 square feet and one eats there, it needs a mezuzah. Thus a car does not need a mezuzah but a caravan does. A temporary market stall does not need one (even if you eat there) but a permanent shop or office does (Yoreh De’ah 286).

    Rabbi Chayyim Joseph David Azulay says on Yoreh De’ah 286 that a prison cell needs a mezuzah if the inmate has been sentenced to a longish term, but not if it is only for a few days. Obviously no-one regards prison as a permanent dwelling!

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