Q. What is the proper way for one to make a year round zecher l’Churban (a remembrance of the destruction of Yerushalayim and the Beis HaMikdash) in the construction of one’s home?
A. One who builds a new house should leave a part of the wall, facing the entrance way, without plaster (Shulchan Aruch OC 560:1 and Mishna Berura s.k. 4) or paint (Kovetz Ohr Yisroel 4, p. 89). The blank portion should preferably be at least one amah by one amah, although Rav Belsky, zt”l said in the name of Rav Moshe Feinstein that bidieved, an area of a square amah is sufficient even if one side is less than an amah [e.g. 2 x ½ amos, which is an area of a square amah] (Piskei Halachos, Vol 1, p. 113, quoting Sefer Habayis, p. 215, footnote 11). There are numerous opinions among the poskim as to the size of an amah. Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l calculates an amah as being 21¼ – 22 inches (Igros Moshe OC 1:36, YD 3:66:1).
Q. Are there any situations in which one may be lenient about leaving an unpainted and non-plastered area of the wall, facing the entrance way, to commemorate the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash?
A. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (126:1) indeed wonders why many people are lenient in fulfilling the requirement of leaving an amah by an amah unpainted and non-plastered in their newly built homes zecher l’churban. (See Aruch HaShulchan OC 560:3, 4 for a possible leniency.) Nevertheless, there is an opinion in the poskim which maintains that if one’s spouse does not want the area exposed, then one may paint a spot measuring an amah by an amah in a different color than the rest of the wall instead (Ohr L’tzion 3:30:1). However, Rav Belsky, zt”l maintained that this should not be done l’chatchilah (from the outset) (Piskei Halacha Vol. 1, p. 114).
This column comes from OU Kosher’s Halacha Yomis dedicated in memory of Rav Chaim Yisroel ben Reb Dov HaLevy Belsky, zt’l, Senior OU Kosher Halachic Consultant (1987-2016). Subscribers can also ask their own questions on Kashrus issues and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. These questions and their answers may be selected to become one of the Q and A’s on OU Kosher Halacha Yomis.