Performing Keriah upon seeing the Temple Mount-Kosel-Western Wall

Visiting the Temple area:

A. Performing Keriah:[1]

Seeing destroyed city of Judea:[2] One who sees, from close proximity[3], a city in Judea which is destroyed [or is inhabited by Jews but is under gentile sovereignty[4]], is required to say “Ir Kadshecha Hayu Midbar” and perform Keriah. [Regarding Chevron, the old age custom was not to perform Keriah upon seeing it.[5] Practically, the custom today is to be lenient regarding performing Keriah upon seeing the cities of Judea.[6] Nonetheless, the above verse is to be recited.[7]]

Seeing Jerusalem: One who sees [the old city of[8]] Jerusalem from close proximity[9] in a destructive state, is to say “Tziyon Haysa Midbar Shemama” and perform Keriah.[10] This applies from the area of Mount Scopus [Har Hatzofim] and onwards.[11]

Seeing the Temple mount:[12] One who sees the Temple Mount [the area of the Dome of the Rock[13]] is to say “Beis Kadsheinu Vesifarteinu Asher Haleuch Bah Avoseinu Haysa Lesreifas Eish Vechaol Machaneinu Haysa Lecharva”. One is then to perform Keriah.

How many times is Keriah done when going towards the Temple Mount?[14] Upon reaching Mount Scopus [Har Hatzofim] one is to perform Keriah for the first time, and upon reaching sight of the Temple Mount he is to perform Keriah a second time. [It is to be done a six centimeters distance from the first tear.[15]]

How is the Keriah to be done?[16] All the above tears must be done while standing, and using one’s hands [although the custom is to use a knife[17]]. One is to tear all of his clothing covering his chest until he reveals his heart.[18] [Nonetheless, the custom is to only tear one’s upper shirt and not the Tzitzis or undershirt.[19] One is not required tear a jacket that is worn only on occassion.[20]] One is to tear a full Tefach of the clothing.[21] These tears may never be fully re-sewn.[22]

How often?[23] The tearing is obligated to be done every thirty days, upon seeing the above areas. This means as follows: Once one has performed Keriah upon seeing one of the above areas, he is not obligated to do Keriah within the next thirty days even if he comes back to see it a second time. After thirty days, he is once again obligated to perform Keriah upon seeing the area. 


One who sees the destroyed cities of Judea, Jerusalem, or the Temple Mount is required to recite the designated verse and perform Keri to his shirt. One is to tear it one Tefach and is never to properly resew it. [Practically, the custom today is to be lenient regarding doing Keriah upon seeing the cities of Judea, although the verses are nevertheless to be recited.]

Q&A on the days

Are there days in which Keriah is not required to be performed?

From the letter of the law, the only days of exception in which one is not to perform Keriah, is Shabbos and Yom Tov. Nevertheless, the custom is not to do Keriah on the following days:[24]

1. Erev Shabbos past midday

2. Erev Yom Tov past midday

3. Chol Hamoed[25]

4. Purim[26]

5. Chanukah

  • Days that Tachanun is omitted: On Rosh Chodesh and other days that Tachanun is omitted, Keriah is nevertheless obligated to be performed.[27] Nevertheless, some are lenient regarding all days that Tachanun is omitted.[28]


Q&A on the areas

Must one do Keriah today upon seeing the old city of Jerusalem?

Some Poskim[29] rule there is no longer an obligation today to perform Keriah upon seeing the old city of Jerusalem, as Jerusalem has been rebuilt. However, other Poskim[30] rule that even today one is required to perform Keriah upon seeing the old city of Jerusalem. Practically, the Rebbe’s position was that the obligations remain in place even today, and he vehemently opposed such a suggestion to the contrary.[31] According to all, it remains an obligation to do Keriah upon seeing the Temple Mount, and Western Wall, as explained next.


Must one perform Keriah upon seeing the Kosel Hamaravi/Western Wall?

The Western Wall is a wall of the Har Habayis and not a wall of the Mikdash. Accordingly, some Poskim[32] rule one who sees it, but does not see the Temple Mount area [Dome of the Rock], is not required to perform Keriah a second time on its behalf. [However, he is required to perform Keriah a first-time due to seeing the old city of Jerusalem.] Other Poskim[33] however rule to the contrary, that although today one is not required to tear his shirt upon seeing the old city of Jerusalem, he nevertheless is required to tear it upon seeing the Western Wall. Some[34] however join the leniencies of these two opinions and do not require Keriah upon seeing the Western Wall, so long as one makes sure not to look at the Temple Mount.

Q&A on the people

Must Jerusalem residents perform Keriah upon seeing the Temple Mount?

From the letter of the law, if thirty days have passed since the last time they saw the Temple Mount, they are required to perform Keriah.[35] Nonetheless, the custom is not to be careful in this matter.[36]

Must a woman perform Keriah upon seeing the above areas?


Must children perform Keriah upon seeing the above areas?[37]


Q&A on circumventing the Halacha

May one sell his clothing to another to avoid the obligation to perform Keriah?[38]

Some are accustomed to sell their shirt to another in order to circumvent the obligation of Keriah.[39] Nevertheless, in truth, this sale is most likely ineffective, and one must thus perform Keriah regardless.

Is there any justification for those who do not perform Keriah today upon visiting the Kosel?

Many people today are not accustomed to perform Keriah to their shirts upon visiting the old city and Western Wall, and seeing the Makom Hamikdash. While the Poskim do not give any defense of this custom, it apparently has been around for quite some time.[40] Some[41] suggest that perhaps the entire obligation is a result of one’s utter sadness of seeing the destruction, and today that we have become so immune to the Churban and Galus, and would feel more pain for ruining his shirt than for the Churban, the obligation thus no longer applies. Others[42] say that those who live in Eretz Yisrael, may rely on this logic, while those who come from the Diaspora, are to perform Keriah. Others say that in truth the Western Wall is not part of the area called Makom Hamikdash, and Yerushalayim today is rebuilt, and hence does not require Keriah. It appears that the Rebbe’s position on this matter is that one is to perform Keriah even today, as written in the Poskim.[43] Practically, it is best for every person to bring with himself an old shirt which he does not mind tearing, and perform the Mitzvah as required in Shulchan Aruch. If this is not possible, one should at the very least sell his shirt to another person with a full Kinyan. Irrelevant of one’s custom, the above-mentioned verses are to be recited.[44]


Misc Q&A

Must one walk around with the torn garment?[45]

No. Once the shirt is torn, it may be removed and one can then change to a regular shirt.

Saying Baruch Dayan Haemes:

Some Poskim[46] rule one is to recite the blessing of Baruch Dayan Haemes without Hashem’s name upon seeing the above areas and performing the Keriah.

May one save the torn shirt and use it fore a subsequent visit?[47]

Yes. In such a case one is to make a new tear in the shirt, a distance of 6 centemeters from the original tear. One may continue doing so until there is no more room left to tear on the shirt.

The Keriah of the Rebbe Rayatz:[48]

When the Rebbe Rayatz visited Yerushalyim he performed Keriah, and recited the blessing of Baruch Dayan Haemes without Hashem’s name.

The order:

1. Remove jacket and other upper clothing.

2. Put on an old shirt.

3. Recite the verse of “Beis Kadsheinu Vesifarteinu Asher Haleuch Bah Avoseinu Haysa Lesreifas Eish Vechaol Machaneinu Haysa Lecharva”

4. Recite “Baruch Dayan Haemes” without Hashem’s name.

5. Tear part of it with a scissor or knife, and then tear the remainder with one’s hands.

6. The tear is to be 8 centimeters long.

7. Remove the shirt and place on an un-torn shirt.


[1] Michaber 561:1-5; Moed Katan 26

[2] Michaber 561:1; See in general regarding saying a blessing when seeing destroyed Jewish communities: Admur Seder Birchas Hanehnin 13:11; Luach 12:17; Michaber 224:10; Brachos 58b

[3] Rama 561:1

[4] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 561:1

[5] Birkeiy Yosef 561 in name of his grandfather, Rav Avraham Azulai, brought in Shaareiy Teshuvah 561:1

[6] Sefer Eretz Yisrael [Tukichinsky] 22:1; Igros Moshe 4:70-11; Piskeiy Teshuvos 561:1

The reason: 1) As we no longer know the exact areas of the cities of Judea. b) Today these cities are rebuilt and are under Jewish sovereignty.

[7] Igros Kodesh 15:452; See Shulchan Menachem 3:70

[8] Sefer Eretz Yisrael [Tukichinsky] 22:2

[9] Rama 561:1

[10] Michaber 561:2

[11] Michaber ibid and Rama 561:1

[12] Michaber 561:2; Moed Katan ibid

[13] Bach 561; Peas Hashulchan 3:2; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 561 footnote 9 that some say one is to see the floor of the Azara.

[14] Michaber 561:2

[15] See Michaber Y.D. 340:23; Moed Katan 36b

[16] Michaber 561:4

[17] Sefer Eretz Yisrael [Tukichinsky] 22:4; One may begin the tearing with a knife and then complete the Tefach with his hands

[18] Michaber 561:4

[19] See Rama 340:10; Sefer Eretz Yisrael [Tukichinsky] 22:4;  Minchas Shlomo 73; Piskeiy Teshuvos 561:4

[20] See Michaber Y.D. 340:10; Kitzur SHU”A 195:3 and Nosei Keilim ibid; Regarding a Davening jacket that one wears as part of his dress code when walking outside, the Ashkenazi custom is to tear it by Aveilus, while the Sefaradi custom is not to tear it. Seemingly, one may be lenient to remove it upon visiting the Temple Mount and performing the Keria, and then put it back on after Keri was done to the shirt.

[21] Michaber 561:2

[22] Michaber 561:4

[23] Michaber 561:5

[24] See Sefer Eretz Yisrael 22:11; Ir Hakodesh Vihamikdash 3:17-5; Betzel Hachochma 5:12; Igros Moshe 5:37; Piskeiy Teshuvos 561:3

[25] See Levushei Mordechai Tinyana 173; Minchas Shlomo 13

[26] Betzel Hachochma 5:12

[27] Piskeiy Teshuvos 561:3;

[28] So ruled Rav Yaakov Yosef; See Halichos Shlomo 3:15

[29] Igros Moshe 4:70-11

[30] Shevet Halevi 7:78; Minchas Shlomo 73; Piskeiy Teshuvos 561:1

[31] Igros Kodesh 15:452; See Shulchan Menachem 3:70; See Igros Kodesh Rayatz 2:205 “On today’s Jerusalem in which they built theaters, one can perform Keria twice.”

[32] Sefer Eretz Yisrael [Tukichinsky] 22:7

[33] Igros Moshe 4:70-11; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 561:14

[34] Rav Mazuz

[35] Michaber 561:5; Radbaz 646; Pischeiy Teshuvah 561

[36] Radbaz 646; Birkeiy Yosef 561; Shaareiy Teshuvah 561; Sefer Eretz Yisrael [Tukichinsky] 22:9; Piskeiy Teshuvos 561:4

[37] Orchos Rabbeinu p. 148; Piskeiy Teshuvos 561:4

[38] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 561:1; Moadim Uzmanim 7:257

[39] See Michaber Y.D. 340:34; Moed Katan 26b; Shach 340:48-50

[40] See Radbaz and Birkeiy Yosef ibid, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 561 that the Jerusalem residents would not make a tear every thirty days upon seeing the Temple Mount even though they are obligated to do so.

[41] Mishneh Halachos 6:110

[42] Minchas Shlomo 73

[43] See Igros Kodesh 15:452; See Shulchan Menachem 3:70

[44] Igros Kodesh 15:452; See Shulchan Menachem 3:70

[45] Orchos Rabbeinu p. 148; Piskeiy Teshuvos 561:4; Heard from Harav Yaakov Yosef

[46] Bach 561 regarding Mikdash; M”B 5616; Kaf Hachaim 561:5

[47] See Michaber 340:22-23

[48] Masa Harebbe Lieretz Hakodesh 7; See Hiskashrus 262

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