Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Halocho #129 - What is a Zecher L'Churban?

After the destruction of the Bet Hamikdash (Temple) certain types of joy were forbidden and certain acts of mourning were instituted "Zecher L'Churban" - as a reminder of the destruction. One may not plaster ones entire house; a square Ama (~50 cm x 50 cm) of wall opposite [or above] the front door should be left bare to recall the destruction. The reason many people don't do so nowadays is unclear. A woman should never wear all her jewelery at the same time. Some ashes are put on a groom's head before the Chuppa (wedding ceremony) on the spot he usually wears his Tefilin. A bride's veil should not have gold nor silver threads. A plate is broken at the engagement, and a cup under the Chuppa. All these [and more] are done Zecher L'Churban - as a reminder of the destruction. Source: Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 126:1,2 - Danny Wednesday, 20 Tamuz 5768

Please daven for a little girl - TAMAR bat NAAMA - תמר בת נעמה


  1. Thanx for the halacha, but might you be able to separate out what the KSA says and other poskim? Not everyone holds like the KSA. For instance, the obvious things we do zecher l'churban you didn't mention was having music in shul or breaking a glass at a wedding. The woman's jewlery and the ashes on the chosson's head are minhagim that are not universal.

    It is critical in this day and age, in which many people intermingle halacha, minhag and culture, that we be clear on where the halacha ends and minhag and culture begin.

    Kol tuv and thanx for the daily halacha!

  2. Hi Dan

    Thanks for the feedback.

    Everything I wrote in #129 was from the Kitzur, including the comment "The reason many people don't do so nowadays is unclear."

    Not sure what you mean by "music in shul"... except for the recent (200? year old) anti-reform custom not to have organs in shul.

    I did mention breaking a glass at a wedding, though I called it a cup.

    The woman's jewelry and the ashes on the chosson's head are minhagim [actually Takonos like this entire Halocho] and are documented in Shulchan Aruch, making it hard to claim that they are not universal... though feel free to send me sources that disagree.

    I agree about differentiating between Halocho, Minhag and culture, but this is a Takono which we hope we won't need much longer.

    Thanks again for the feedback,

    - Danny

  3. Danny,

    The reason why we don't have orchestras playing in shul is because that's what was done in the BHMK and the fact that we don't do so is zecher l'churban. The point of the organs in shul was because the Reform denied the coming of a physical moshiach and thus called their shuls 'temples" as if the real BHMK would not be rebuilt.

    The reason why people don't necessary follow the halacha as quoted in the KSA (or what many people refer to as Ganzfried), is that the sefer refelcts particularly Hungarian minhagim of the 18th and 19th centuries along with the halachos from the Shulchan Aruch. This is why many versions of the KSA now appear with footnotes from the Mishna Brura to clarify the halacha the KSA cites from the particular angle from which R' Ganzfried collected those halachos.

    Good speaking with you and keep up the good work!
    Kol tuv,

  4. I've actually just finished learning through the Kitzur for the 6th time this year.

    Most of the numerous "Mishna Brura footnotes" are minor quibbles. There are maybe 3 or 4 times when you can say that the Mishna Brura argues l'Halocho with the Kitzur where it would make a practical difference to the average Yid.

    Maybe I'll document these; it would make an interesting booklet.

    I'm on my second time through the Tur and Shulchan Oruch and haven't spotted any obvious mismatches, though the Kitzur tends to be Machmir (as does the Mishna Brura).

    Then again, the Shulchan Oruch seems to be more machmir than the Tur. It's interesting to see how Halocho changes over time.

    Kol Tuv,

    - Danny

  5. So very, very true.

    Good learning and a good Shabbos!

  6. What is Zecher L'Churban ?

    Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel is the holiest of all lands on Earth. Jerusalem is the holiest of all cities. The Temple Mount is the holiest part of Jerusalem and the site of the Beit HaMikdash - the holy temple. The Bet HaMikdash is the holiest place on the Temple Mount, and thus, the holiest place in the universe. The Jewish people built two Batei Mikdash. The first was destroyed by the Babylonians, and the second was destroyed by the Romans. What was lost to us in the destruction of the Batei Mikdash was not merely a beautiful, central place of worship. A large shul can easily be rebuilt and replaced. Rather, we lost a unique connection to G-d that can only be achieved in the holy Temple in Jerusalem. We lost a complete Jewish way of life—a life of tahara, kedusha and shechina. Jews worldwide are aware that the annual commemoration of Tisha B’Av is a day of mourning and lamentation for the loss of the two Batei Mikdash and this special way of life. Many Jews are less aware that to facilitate a constant awareness of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the Sages of the Talmud issued a series of decrees to help us focus on what we are missing. For example, the breaking of the glass at a wedding reminds us that despite our great joy at the marriage of a young couple, there is still something missing in our celebration if we are without the Beit Hamikdash. Another example is a Rabbinic decree that our homes not be built in the manner of “royal palaces”. How can we live in a beautiful, unblemished home, when the House of G-d is barren and desolate? Accordingly, the Sages ordained that a part of one’s home near the doorway should remain unplastered and unpainted. An area of one square cubit, i.e., between 18 and 24 square inches, of the house should remain unplastered and unpainted—even while the rest of the house is magnificently adorned. This square cubit, near the doorway, serves as a perpetual reminder that all is not perfect. By purchasing the special artwork on this site, you will be doing two mitzvos - giving tzedakah to help unfortunate children as well as fulfilling the Rabbinic decree to remember the destruction of the Bet HaMikdash.

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    Your participation enables you to acquire reproductions of original art and offers the opportunity to provide beautiful gifts to your children, grandchildren and your friends. This “win-win” opportunity for charitable giving should not be missed