Zecher Lachurban-Commemorating the Destruction

Zecher Lachurban-Commemorating the Destruction-Summary version

  1. Painting and decorating one’s walls:
  • When the Temple was destroyed, the Sages of that generation instituted that it is forbidden for one to ever build a home which is painted and decorated like the building of a king.
    • Thus, it is forbidden to paint the walls without first cementing it.
    • Likewise, it is forbidden to decorate the walls of the house.
    • This prohibition applies even if one leaves a space of 1×1 Ama unpainted and undecorated, although some Poskim are lenient and so is the widespread custom.
  1. Leaving part of one’s wall unpainted:
  • If one paints the walls of his house with white paint, he is required to leave a space of 1×1 Ama [48cm x 48cm] unpainted.
  • Some say this space should be made opposite the entrance of the house, in order so that when one enters through the main door, he will immediately see the unpainted area and remember the destruction. Others however are accustomed to position it on top of the door in order so that when one sits facing the door, he is able to see the unpainted area.
  • One who purchases a painted house, or house with decorated walls, may have it remain in its painted state and is not obligated to scrape off the paint from a 1×1 Ama area.
  • Many people today are no longer accustomed to leave an unpainted square space in the home, although the custom of the Rebbe Rashab was to do so.
  1. Leaving out one dish by a meal:
  • The Sages enacted that in commemoration for the destruction, upon making a meal for guests [or any other meal, including even a Seudas Mitzvah] one is required to leave out from the table one of the commonly served dishes of food. One is to make it blatantly evident on the table that the dish is missing by leaving a space empty for where that dish should have been served. Any common dish may be left out, even if it is not of much importance. [On Shabbos and Yom Tov, it is permitted according to all to serve all the available dishes.
  • Practically, however, today we are no longer accustomed to leave out a dish from meals even during the meals of the week. Some conclude that it is nevertheless proper to leave an empty space on the table in commemoration of the Churban.
  1. Not to place all of one’s beautiful vessels on the dining table:
  • During the year, it is proper to diminish in the amount of beautiful vessels that one places on his dining table, in order to commemorate the Churban.
  1. Jewelry:
  • The Sages enacted that in commemoration for the destruction, upon a woman dressing herself with jewelry, she is not to wear all the types of jewelry that she usually wears and is rather to leave one out. Thus, if she owns and wears a necklace, rings, earrings, and bracelet she is not to wear all of them at the same time. Those that wear all of their jewelry, aside for transgressing this law, also cause jealousy amongst the gentiles.
  • On Shabbos and Yom Tov, some Poskim rule it is permitted to wear all the available jewelry. Other Poskim however rule it applies even on Shabbos and Yom Tov.
  • Although the above ruling is recorded in the Poskim without argument, practically, today the women are no longer accustomed to leave out a piece of jewelry even during the week.
  1. Wedding:
  • Placing ash on forehead: In commemoration for the destruction, when a Chasan gets married [under the Chuppah] he is to place ash on his forehead by the area where he dons his head Tefillin. [This custom is no longer practiced today by most segments of Jewry, not by Sephardim and not by many Ashkenazim. Rather, a cup is broken under the Chuppah in commemoration of the destruction, as explained next. Nonetheless, there are many Ashkenazi communities who follow this custom even today, in addition to breaking the glass.]
  • Breaking a cup: Some communities are accustomed to break a [glass] cup during the time of the Chuppah. Others place a black cloth, or other symbol of mourning, on the head of the Chasan. Practically, the widespread custom today is to break a glass cup. [The cup should be whole and complete, and one should not choose a chipped or damaged vessel for this purpose. The cup is customarily broken after the Sheva Brachos. [It is also customary of Ashkenazi Jewry to break a plate by the Tanaim/Vort.] Some are accustomed to reciting the verse of Im Eshkacheich Yerushalayim, and have the Chasan repeat after him word after word. This is a good custom.  [Some Rabbanim have come out against the customary shout of Mazal Tov, as the glass is broken, as it uproots the entire purpose of the breaking of the glass as a sign of mourning.]
  • The dress of the Chasan and Kallah: The Sages decreed that a Chasan and Kallah should not wear the accustomed head apparel that would be worn by weddings. The Chasan may not wear his crown, or turban, and the Kallah may not wear and the Kallah may not wear her silver crown. [It is no longer customary to wear these head apparels by weddings, and its law is hence no longer relevant.]
  1. Playing and listening to music:
  • With instruments: In commemoration for the destruction, the Sages prohibited one to play a musical instrument or listen to music [whether live or recorded] for the purpose of joy. Some Poskim however rule that this only applies to a person who commonly hears music, such as the kings who arise and sleep with the tones of music, or by a festive meal [where wine is served]. [In a case that wine is being served, music is forbidden for all people, even one who is not accustomed to listen to it.  If, however, wine is not being served and one does not commonly hear music, it is permitted. Other Poskim however rule that mundane songs are forbidden on all occasions, even when wine is not served and one is not accustomed to listen to music. Practically, many of today’s Poskim rule stringently, that it is forbidden to play or listen to music when it is not a Mitzvah occasion. However, the widespread custom is to be lenient in this matter and allow listening to music even not by a Mitzvah occasion. Various justifications have been offered for this custom.  Some, however, due to this prohibition avoid going to concerts or even listening to music on tape.]
  • Singing without instruments: It is forbidden to sing mundane songs, even without instruments, during an occasion in which wine is served. However, the widespread custom of all Jewry is to permit singing songs of praise to Hashem, even by occasions in which wine is served. [It is permitted to sing all songs during occasions that wine is not being served, so long as there are no instruments being played. Other Poskim however rule that mundane songs are forbidden on all occasions, even when wine is not served. Based on this later opinion, one is to protest against women who sing [mundane] songs while doing household chores.  However, those who sing during laborious work in order to hasten their work ability, are not to be protested, and they may do so according to all. Likewise, one may sing a lullaby to help drift a baby to sleep.  Practically, the widespread custom is to be lenient in this matter and allow singing. Various justifications have been offered for this custom.]
  • Playing music for the sake of a Mitzvah: It is permitted [to sing and play music] in all circumstances when done for the sake of a Mitzvah, such as to rejoice a Chasan and Kallah. [In Yerushalayim however, the custom is not to play more than one musical instrument even by a Mitzvah occasion, such as by weddings. However, some are lenient to play recordings.]
  1. Laughter:
  • It is Rabbinically forbidden for one to fill his mouth with laughter in this world. [This refers only to engaging in excessive laughter and frivolity with others for long periods of time. It is however permitted to laugh temporarily. Some Poskim however write it refers to laughing in a very loud manner.]
  • This law applies even by the occasion of a Mitzvah, such as by a Simchas Beis Hashoeiva, Chasuna, or on Purim, in which case one’s joy is to be limited. In the time of the redemption however, it will become permitted to excessively rejoice during a Mitzvah occasion.
  1. Visiting the Temple area:
  • Performing Keriah: One who sees the destroyed cities of Judea, Jerusalem, or the Temple Mount is required to recite the designated verse and perform Keriah 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.]
  • May one visit the Temple Mount? Gedolei Yisrael from all spectrums of Jewry prohibit visitation to the Temple Mount, including to those areas which have been determined to not be part of the Halachic Har Habayis and are not restricted in entry.
  • Visiting the Kosel/Western Wall: The Mitzvah of visiting the Temple area during the festival is not applicable in times of exile. Nevertheless, according to one minority approach, the Mitzvah can still be fulfilled through seeing the Temple area, and although today the Mitzvah is not an obligation, one who visits the area near the Temple, fulfills this positive command. Practically, it customary even today to visit Jerusalem and the Kosel during the Shalosh Regalim, and one who cannot do so on the first day of the Holiday is to do so during one of the following six days.

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