Zecher LaChurban

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    Dave Hirsch

    We’re here again in another period of mourning for the Beis Hamikdash. Years come and years go, yet we still mourn. However, are we really mourning what we lost or are we merely pretending to? Are we simply skipping the greasy chicken for some brick-oven pizza or scrumptious blintzes? As someone mentioned here in the coffee room, do those people who are doing well really want Moshiach? Well, just talking won’t get us anyplace, we must take action. The Shulchan Aruch dedicated an entire Siman (Taf Kuf Samech – 560) with Halachos that are unfortunately neglected. I believe that it would be appropriate to discuss those rare and uncommon but vital Halachos. It is the Shechina we are mourning with, shouldn’t we do it right?!

    I will continue a second post with a Halacha for starters (don’t wanna make one comment too long, lest people skip it).

    Dave Hirsch

    In the first Seif, the Mechaber says that one should not build himself a home like the kings (and many Achronim including the Chasam Sofer apply this in building new homes in general – I will elaborate later on IY”H). The Mechaber says that one should leave an Amoh over an Amoh unpainted. This perfect square (look in Pri Megadim and Shaarei Teshuva) should be across from the main entrance to the home (there is a dispute; with some saying all rooms need it) so you see it upon entering. There are some that say that it should be done over the door (Minhagei Chasam Sofer) and the Mishne Berura defends this view. The Mishne Berura also defends those who don’t do it (among other Achronim), however most reasons cited do not apply nowadays. Someone that rents and the landlord objects to him peeling the paint, does not have the right to do it against his will.

    There are many who put paintings of the Kosel or Yerushalayim and the Mishne Berura says one should not protest (Igros Moshe, Chelek Gimel Siman Pey Vav). However, many (including the Shlah, Pri Megadim, and Kaf Hachaim) say it defeats the purpose.

    Let’s hear what you have to say on this Halacha.

    Dave Hirsch

    Seems like no one here is familiar with these Halachos. Unfortunately, it is a neglected Halacha but quite an important one. The Maharsha (Bava Basra 60B) writes that this square shows that we live here in Chutz LaAretz only temporarily. He says that in essence we shouldn’t eat meat and drink wine since the Churban, but since it is a ‘Gezeira Shein Hatzibur Yochol Laamod’ we do a minor Aveilus. It should be noted, that even if a house was bought (from a Jew) fully painted, one must peel it. The only time it is permitted to leave it painted is when it was bought from a non-Jew and was never renovated. Reb Moshe Feinstein (Ibid) says that one can be lenient in the details of this Halacha, given that it is Drabanan. According to that, one me rely on the smallest shiur of an Amoh (which is 18 x 18 inches).

    I’d really appreciate to hear from someone that heard something on this from a Posek or more on this Halacha in general.


    It could safely be said my whole house is zecher l’churban!

    Seroiusly, we left a patch unpainted and in general, when we pick up minor nicks and scratches (car included) we leave them as is, zecher l’churban. That part is not halacha, but its our way of living with a galus mentality.

    P.S. – I’m with you on the chicken vs. salmon steak, but rules are rules so chicken is out and fish is in. But I did make a huge personal sacrafice in keeping with the 9 days mourning idea; I’m not biking till after tisha b’av. Again, not halacha, but just a personal extra to show Hashem I’m trying to have this period not business as usual.

    Dave Hirsch

    Thank you BP Totty for your inspiring post. You raised a good point. Almost all Jewish homes (with Bli Ayin Horah large families) have more than one Zecher LaChurban. However, other than your case (where it is extra credit) I don’t think it is enough to be Yotze. All Poskim say it must be visible and recognizable for the Churban (hence why many claim that even black paint isn’t enough). Here are the words from the Levush for example:

    ??? ?????? ???? ?????? ????? ?????? ?????? ??????? ????.

    I forgot to post a Marei Makom where is states that a renter/tenant isn’t obligated to do so (when the landlord objects). It is in a rare but Choshuv Teshuva Sefer Migdal Hashein (61). He also writes that if a house is built/renovated for real estate purposes it is exempt.

    I will share with you two great stories (from Seforim) about the Sanzer Rav Zt”l (the Divrei Chaim) about the Amoh al Amoh.


    Dave Hirsch, thank you for bringing up this important topic. How would you say the halachas of

    the Mechaber says that one should not build himself a home like the kings (and many Achronim including the Chasam Sofer apply this in building new homes in general


    The Mechaber says that one should leave an Amoh over an Amoh unpainted

    can help us mourn the churban?

    How can we not only be sad about the churban, but also connect and feel that we are waiting anxiously for the coming of Moshiach?

    Dave Hirsch

    Reb Hillel Kolomayer Zt”l, was widely known for reprimanding people and giving lots of Mussar. While traveling, he once passed by the city of Sanz. He decided to stop by for a visit at the home of the Rav, the Divrei Chaim. When the Sanzer Rav asked him to rebuke him on anything he sees wrong, Rav Hillel criticized him for not leaving an Amoh by Amoh. The Sanzer Rav immediately stood up on a ladder and peeled the paint. The Kinyan Torah 1:117(from Harav Horowitz Zt”l, Rav in Strasbourg and then Eida) actually uses this story as an excuse for those (including him) that don’t have a Zecher. He maintains that the Divrei Chaim did it merely due to the kavod of Rav Hillel Kolomayer, as if it would be necessary he would’ve done it on his own. But, Rabbi Binyomin ‘Hatzadik’ Silber (in Oz Nidberu 7:63) and Rabbi Menashe Klein (in Mishne Halachos 5:71) use this story to support the obligation of this Mitzvah.

    Another story is said on Reb Meir Shapiro Zt”l when he was building the Yeshiva ‘Chachmei Lublin’. He was debating where to leave the unpainted Amoh al amoh (although most Poskim agree that a Beis Midrash is exempt), whether on the side of the entrance or across. He then went into the Sanzer Rav’s home and asked his daughter who made the Zecher (which was across the entrance) and she related the above story.

    Reb Yechiel Michel Tukchinski (Reb Shmuel Salant’s grandson and author of Gesher HaChaim among others) in his Sefer Ir Hakodesh Vhamikdash 3:17:6 states that among all Achronim no substantial Heter was found.

    If you have anything to add, you’re more than welcome. Tomorrow IY”H I will talk about building new homes in general.


    Our house isn’t painted, it has a brick exterior. What is the halachah?

    Dave Hirsch

    Charlie, if your home’s interior isn’t painted, then you are good according to all Shitos (there is a Tzad that one shouldn’t paint at all). As to your brick exterior, we will IYH discuss it tomorrow.

    Philosopher, these Halachos don’t technically help one connect with the Golus HaShechina and Moshiach (it is a sign of mourning and bereavement ‘Im Lo Aaleh Es Yerushalaim…’). However, it is my humble opinion that one who mourns the Churban will get the feeling and longing for Moshiach. This may be the Pshat in ‘one who doesn’t mourn the Churban won’t see the Beis Hamikdash in its glory’. On a side note: I think the Sefer HaTanya says that a connection can be forged through Limud HaTorah.


    Good point Dave – And you are right; prior to us painting a few years ago, we had a sizeable patch opposite the front door that the wallpaper hanger missed, and we left that as zecher l’churban.

    With the new paint job, the whole house got painted off white, so the paler shade of off whote base coat that shows may not be doing the trick. I’ll ask my rov. And thanks again!


    There are many who put paintings of the Kosel or Yerushalayim and the Mishne Berura says one should not protest

    Please forgive my vast ignorance, but what is the problem with hanging up pictures of the Kosel or Yerushalayim in one’s home?

    The Wolf


    I think he meant someone who put up a painting in place of the zecher l’churban.

    The zecher is meant to be something saddening while a nice painting of the kosel beautifies the house.

    I don’t think he meant that there is a problem with paintings of the kosel as a general rule.


    Thank you Derech, for clearing that up.

    The Wolf, whose unparalleled and vast ignorance has just been lessened by a little bit.

    Dave Hirsch

    Right on, Derech Hamelech. Sorry for not explaining it better, topic is about Zecher LaChurban after all.

    Just another few aspects and interesting things on this Halacha.

    The Yaavetz in Sheilas Yaavetz (169), discusses this Halacha and states that one is obligated to leave the square even in a one-room home (that is livable, unlike a barn etc.). According to this, a garage or storage room also needs an Amoh al Amoh. The Chazon Ish however, argues and says it is exempt.

    There is a discussion whether a Sukkah is Mechuyav in a Zecher. The Kaf HaChaim cites a Sefer Tosfos Chaim (on the Chayei Adam 137;2) that says that just like a Beis Midrash (according to most Poskim) is exempt, so too is a Sukkah that isn’t used throughout the year.

    The Michle D’Asvasa, (a grandson of the Tosafos Yom Tov) says (37) that one should cover the square on Shabbos (he brings down other references that show not to mourn on Shabbos). However in Maharam Brisk (2;8) he contends that this isn’t mourning on Shabbos (Bkum V’Aseh) and one shouldn’t cover it. (He cites the saying of Shir Hamaalos).

    Although most Poskim say that this Halacha is applicable for all types of wall decorations, the Aderes is lenient when the walls are covered with wallpaper (saying that it is only paint mentioned in the Gemarah).

    Dave Hirsch

    Now to the next topic:

    I’d appreciate to hear more from you. A Psak Halacha you once received, a story, or an addition or source.

    Dave Hirsch

    In Sief Beis (2), the Mechaber says that at meals (rather feasts and dinners) one should be reminiscent to the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash by leaving over some space on the table and omitting a course (that is visible). The Taz adds that the Din is the same at a Seudas Mitzvah, such as a Bris and wedding). The Mor Uktzua however, states that on Shabbos and Yom Tov nothing should be missing (Magen Avraham). The Levush (as understood by the Mishne Berurah) claims that leaving a space on the table is unnecessary.

    Dave Hirsch

    BP Totty, I missed your post. I’d appreciate if you’d share with us what your Rav said. You know, as the Kinyan Torah (above) writes, he cannot Pasken on this particular Halacha, for he too has yet to leave a square.

    I, for one, live in a rented apartment (built by a non-Jew) with the landlord in objection, so my Rav said it was permissible to leave it as is (painted).

    Dave Hirsch

    The Mechaber continues in Seif Beis: A woman should not wear all of her jewelry at once. [There are some who learn that a part should be missing from the actual piece(s)]. On this too the Chayei Adam wonders why people are lenient. One can debate whether it is permissible to wear all weekday jewelry at once while not wearing Shabbos/special-occasion jewelry or vice-versa.


    Dave Hirsch

    Wedding Customs:

    More on weddings soon.

    Dave Hirsch

    Dave Hirsch

    Coming tomorrow (if the time allows)- Music, Concerts, Comedy, and Entertainment…

    Dave Hirsch

    I believe it’ll have to wait (maybe tomorrow afternoon). However, I’d like to hear from others more about these Halachos, whether you once read something about it (in Seforim etc.) or heard a Shiur or Psak.


    according to Rav Moshe it’s assur to listen to music stam, for pleasure all year round. Many poskim assur concerts too.

    Dave Hirsch

    Sof Davar,

    The Gemara (Gittin 7a) forbids music for pleasure.

    There’s a dispute, however, in the Poskim whether it implies to singing as well as music or it pertains to music only. Rav Moshe Feinstein Zt”l (Igros Moshe, Orach Chaim 1:161) maintains that singing itself is not problematic halachically; yet, he does advise G-D fearing Jews to refrain from singing.


    Hanhaga tova: Take the long tachanu on M&T seriously. Say tikkun hatzos if you are able. Mai’idach, it is notable that the Mechaber in taf kuf nun daled/25 avoids the use of the clearly future tense: “one who eats and drinks on T”B does not see the simcha of Jerusalem, and the one who mourns for Jerusalem merits and sees her simcha”


    Ours has siding. Our zecher lechurban is over the door on the inside.

    The halacha of “not building a house like the kings” refers to not putting decorative molding on the walls and ceilings, something I see everywhere.

    Dave Hirsch

    Another neglected Halacha:

    It is incumbent on one to rip his or her garment upon seeing the Churban Yerushalayim (Yehuda) or Churban Habayis. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein Zt”l ruled that the Halacha is not applicable nowadays upon seeing the Old City, as it is under Jewish rule; nevertheless, he maintains that one must essentially perform the Kriah ritual even on Erev Shabbos or Yom Tov. Yet, if it is contrary to the Minhag, one should not perform it, but it does not exempt him thereafter (even within thirty days). Moreover, many Poskim (Pe’as Hashulchan and more) scoff at those who seek to evade from ripping their garment by lending or selling it to a friend as a ploy. They maintain that it does not relieve one of this obligation.

    You are encouraged to comment and add your insights on Halachos pertaining to this sorrowful day.

    Dave Hirsch

    From YWN Archives:

    Al Naros Bavel

    As a remembrance of the churban the poskim write that one should recite al naros bavel before bentching during the week, on days that tachnun is recited. The reason for saying this tefilla is to worry about the churban each seuda that one washes. The minhag seems to be that people are careful to say al naros bavel during the nine days, but do not say it the rest of the year. It is unclear what the basis for this custom is.

    Amah by Amah

    Where to Place the Amah by Amah

    Each Room

    What to do?

    One who puts up wallpaper (and does not paint) is also obligated to leave a part of the wall unfinished.

    Buying a House from a Goy

    Bought from a Yid

    Investment Property

    One is not required to make an amah by amah in a house which is purchased for investment purposes.

    Shul / Bais Medrash



    Bungalow/ Summer Home

    Wedding Hall


    Ashes on the Forehead

    Breaking a Glass under the Chupah


    Wearing Less Jewelry

    Less of a Meal

    Practicing a Musical Instrument

    One is permitted to listen to music for the sake of learning a trade.

    For Children

    One is permitted to sing a song to help a child go to sleep because we rely on the opinion that singing is only forbidden if accompanied with wine (without food). However, one should not sing songs which are not proper for the children (such as certain lullabies).

    Recorded Music

    There is a discussion in the poskim if the issur applies only to live music or also recorded music. Some poskim maintain since recorded music was not around when chazal made the issur it was not included. Many argue with this premise. Others say if one records his voice it is considered vocal music and if one records musical instruments it is viewed as instrumental music. Those who are lenient in regard to recorded music are also lenient as far as music on the radio. According to all opinions one is permitted to listen to the music that emits from his cell phone when receiving a call.

    Listening to Tapes of Jewish Music

    Today the custom is to be lenient and listen to music for the following reasons: 1. Musical instruments are only forbidden if accompanied by wine. 2. One who is down and out may use the music to lift his spirits. 3. Perhaps the issur never applied to recorded music. 4. Many say the issur only applies to listening on a constant basis.

    Driving a Car

    One who is driving a car may listen to music (even for long periods of time) if one is doing so to stay awake while driving.

    Weddings and Seudas Mitzvah

    The Music Ban in Yerushalayim

    In 1865 a general ban was issued in Yerushalayim against playing music at weddings, and only one instrument was permitted to play. Many poskim discuss if recorded music or electric synthesizers may be used at a wedding in Yerushalayim. The consensus is to be stringent. A chosson and kallah who live outside Yerushalayim and have their wedding in Yerushalayim should not be lenient and have a band without asking a sheilah first. The ban seems to apply to all of Yerushalayim.

    Singing Praises of Hashem

    One who sings songs of praise to Hashem is permitted to play a musical instrument while doing so and the above discussion would not apply. This is permitted even with wine, and even on a regular basis.

    Pesukim as Lyrics

    The Gemorah in Sanhedrin says one is not allowed to use words of Shir Hashirim for a song. Rashi explains that this issur applies to all pesukim. The reason is because using the words of the Torah for his own enjoyement is a lack of proper kedusha. One who wishes to praise Hashem may sing the lyrics of the Torah. A posuk that is a nusach of davening may be sung by adding a tune to it. However, singing a certain posuk because you like the niggun is forbidden.

    The Magen Avraham says when singing songs on Shabbos one should only sing songs which were composed esepcially for seudas Shabbos (and not other words of chazal). However, many poskim say the Magen Avraham only forbids other songs if they will be sung in a frivolous manner, and if they are used to praise Hashem then singing them is permitted.

    Non-Jewish Music

    Many non-Jewish songs have lyrics which are forbidden to listen to, since many of these songs (even those without lyrics) have the ability to bring one to lewdness. Other songs are wild and can cause one to act in a manner that is improper for a Jewish person. There is a discussion in the poskim if one can take a non-Jewish tune and sing Jewish words to it.

    There are many types of classical music. Each situation is different and has to be judged on its own level if it has the din of non-Jewish music or not.

    Today there are hundreds of Jewish CD and tapes on the market and one can easily avoid any questions of listening to non-Jewish music.


    In the zechus of keeping these halachos as a remembrance of the churban bais hamikdosh may we be zocheh that Hashem will send us out of gulus so we can see the building of the third bais hamikdosh speedily in our days.


    Can you please tell me the mekor for peeling off the amah al amah paint, bec when I bought my house which was being built by a Jewish developer, I spoke to my rav and he told me that since I’m not taking ownership until after the house is completed, even though I was under contract and involved in the painting ie I chose the colors and paid more to get it painted a color, I do not need to leave/peel an amah al amah. (furthermore he told me that its a shaila if the Jewish builder is obligated…)



    Kitzur shulchon aruch 126:1 I believe the Taamei Haminhagim brings this down as well. It is an old custom.

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