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It is almost universal that Mezuzot are affixed to doorposts by rolling it up tightly and inserting into some protective case.

The Rambam writes in Hilchot Mezuzah 6:13 that encountering a Mezuzah should be a profound experience:

חייב אדם להזהר במזוזה מפני שהיא חובת הכל תמיד וכל זמן שיכנס ויצא יפגע ביחוד השם שמו של הקדוש ב"ה ויזכור אהבתו ויעור משנתו ושגיותיו בהבלי הזמן וידע שאין דבר העומד לעולם ולעולמי עולמים אלא ידיעת צור העולם ומיד הוא חוזר לדעתו והולך בדרכי מישרים

People must be very careful about the mitzvah of mezuzah because it is an obligation on everyone at all times, so that any time they go out or come in, they will brush against the unity of the name of the Holy Blessed One and remember God's love and wake up from their sleep and errors in the futilities of daily life and know that there is nothing that lasts forever except the knowledge of the Rock of Ages. And they will then immediately return to their true knowledge and and walk on the right path.

It's hard for me to have that experience when the Mezuzah is unable to be read. Personally, I think I would more successfully achieve this level of awareness if I was able to actually see the writing of the Mezuzah each time I passed through the doorway.

According to a Safrut website, stam.net:

It is not proper to roll the mezuzah inside out or to leave it unrolled in order to be able to view the lettering.

Another Safrut blog goes as far as to say, based on the language of SA YD 288:14 that an unrolled mezuzah against ideal Halacha and must be fixed:

Halacha requires that the scroll should be rolled from left to right i.e. the word "Echad" going to "Shema". Although the posture spread out flat does not invalidate it, for it is kosher after the fact, still it must be fixed.

Personally the SA's lashon there sounds circumstantial to me, not intentionally halachic, especially if seen in light of Rambam. The author above presents his interpretation as a given.

What is the source for this, and is there any debate surrounding this issue? I would probably encase the parchment in two glass sheets as protection.

Rambam seems to take for granted that you will be rolling it up, but does not specify if this is more desirable or just the way it has always been done.

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    I vaguely recall seeing somewhere that there is supposed the a "Shin" (or maybe the entire name Shin Daled Yud) on the back of the parchment and it's supposed to be facing outwards. No sources offhand, so can't post an answer. Edit: Look one chapter earlier than your source, 6:6. – Salmononius2 Jul 11 '17 at 13:43
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    Menachot 31b, ShA YD 288:14 remember they didn't have plexiglass back then so the only reasonable way to protect the writing was to roll it up. – Double AA Jul 11 '17 at 14:21
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    Someone raised that it may be inappropriate for the Mezuzah to be unrolled all the time, as by a Sefer Torah. Are there grounds for that concern? And would an acrylic casing solve that problem? – Chaim Jul 11 '17 at 15:12
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R. Ovadyah Yosef (Yabia Omer VIII YD 30) discusses the topic and raises your issue from Rambam's description of the point of the encounter with Mezuzah. He points out the language of both Rambam and SA and their sources in Bavli (Menachos 31b and Rashi there) and Yerushalmi (Megillah 4:12; see Tos. to Menachos 33a "Ha") which communicate the practice of rolling the Mezuzah and how it should be done. However, he draws upon Menachos 34b that clearly indicates that rolling is not necessary, and therefore concludes that having it flat and visible would be technically completely acceptable. However, he notes that since throughout Halachic literature Mezuzah is always assumed and described as being rolled and covered it is definitely preferable to perform the Mitzvah as classically described. See also ShuT Emek Halachah (R. ZW HaLevi of Zetyl) YD 56; Noam X 237-249; Shu"T Lev Avraham (Weinfeld) 85; Shu"T Shevet HaKehasi (Gross) I YD 271:2...

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    Shaul Goldman, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for your well-researched answers! I look forward to seeing you around. – Isaac Moses Aug 9 '17 at 11:06
  • +1 for a well-researched answer! I do wonder about the concluding line: "it is definitely preferable to perform the Mitzvah as classically described". IF it was only classically described that way due to circumstantial limitations (lack of adequate transparent protection for an unrolled scroll) why would it be preferable to retain that description, especially when that means losing out on a more "Mehadrin" way of experiencing what the Rambam sees as the desirable result of fulfilling mezuzah? – Chaim Aug 9 '17 at 11:55
  • As R. Weinfeld and R. Ovadyah say, it's not often clear what the most 'Mehadrin' way of doing a Mitzvah is based on Sevara and a particular take on the Ta'am HaMitzvah. Rambam himself in the Halachah you quoted states: – Shaul Goldman Aug 9 '17 at 23:39
  • I don't see an indication that viewing the text, if not reading it, is the point. In fact, there are many sources that point to having a greater, deeper impression made on the sub-conscious specifically through subtler symbolisms. See Shiurei Da'as of R. YYL Bloch, Maamar 'Nishmas HaTorah'. – Shaul Goldman Aug 10 '17 at 0:00
  • As it stands, we don't find anywhere in Halachic literature anything to the effect that there is an 'Inyan L'Maaseh' to have a viewable, readable Mezuzah. That, along with the clear Massores of having a rolled Mezuzah (especially when most (not Rambam, of course) have the Minhag to write Sheimos on the outer portion of the K'laf facing outward... ) implies that the safest approach to fulfilling the Mitzvah in the best possible way is how it is always described in the Halachic literature. I believe that's where the above Poskim are coming from. והבוחר יבחר כי האמת בין כך תורה דרכה – Shaul Goldman Aug 10 '17 at 0:00

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