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Chanukat Habayit

 

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

The Torah conveys to us the importance of formally dedicating one’s new home by exempting from army service those who had recently purchased a home but had not yet dedicated it.[1] As we will see, this ceremony is much more than merely hanging one’s first Mezuza, although that is essential as well.[2] One is advised to purchase a home at one’s earliest opportunity,[3] though owning a home is not truly an obligation.[4] The meal one holds in honor of a new home is considered to be a seudat mitzva, comparable to a meal held in honor of a wedding or brit.[5] One does not make a Chanukat Habayit in honor of a home one is renting.[6] 

The acquisition of a home is a tremendous achievement that not everyone merits to enjoy. The Torah teaches us that a home is intended to serve as a base for one’s spiritual growth and performance of mitzvot. In fact, there are quite a number of the Torah’s mitzvot that are dependant upon owning a home, such as the mitzva of placing a Mezuza on one’s doorposts,[7]and welcoming guests. In ancient times, idolaters would dedicate their homes to their idols. In order to respond to this phenomenon accordingly we dedicate our homes to God and mitzvot.[8] It is on this premise that purchasing a home is a goal which one should aspire for and an elaborate dedication ceremony is in order.

The central ceremony in the Chanukat Habayit ceremony is the seuda, the elaborate feast which serves as the first public gathering, to be enjoyed with friends, in one’s new home. Purchasing a home is always a long and exhausting journey and the seudat Chanukat Habayit which comes at the conclusion of this process is intended to bring with it a sense of completion and peace. Indeed, the Chanukat Habayit ceremony which follows the hard work of setting up a home is compared to God having rested on Shabbat after having set up of the world.[9] As a person’s home is intended to serve as a dwelling place for God, and as such, is a true miniature Beit Hamikdash. The Chanukat Habayit of one’s home is also associated with and intended to mirror the Chanukat Habayit that was celebrated upon the completion of the Beit Hamikdash.[10] The seuda is also considered to be a meal of thanksgiving for the newly attained opportunity to perform the many more mitzvot that owning a home allows one to fulfill. One must be careful to ensure that the Chanukat Habayit is much more than just a party. We are instructed to ensure that the primary focus of the event is words of Torah, thanksgiving to God, and dedication to mitzvot. When done in this way, the seuda is considered to be a great mitzva.[11] One should recite the blessing of “Shehecheyanu” at one’s Chanukat Habayit.[12] 

All of the above generally only refers to the purchase of a home in the Land of Israel. Considering that the goal of every Jew must be to eventually settle in the Land of Israel[13] there can inherently be no mitzva in purchasing a home and establishing roots in the Diaspora. One is even permitted to violate Shabbat in order to purchase a home in the Land of Israel.[14] Nevertheless, it is certainly in order to invite one’s friends to enjoy a meal in honor of purchasing a new home even in the Diaspora. That being said, a Chanukat Habayit ceremony in the Diaspora does not qualify as a mitzva in the classical sense of the word,[15] though some authorities insist it does.[16] It is interesting to note that any meal for any occasion which is intended to show appreciation to God and that is accompanied by words of Torah in honor of the event is considered to be a seudat mitzva.[17] So too, any meal in which one is joined by a Torah scholar is considered a seudat mitzva as well.[18] 

When purchasing and moving into a home anywhere, we should be sure to bear in mind the teaching to secure for oneself good neighbors.[19] We are also taught that a change in one’s residence often makes for a positive change in one’s luck.[20] The first items one should bring into a new home are holy books and a charity box – even if it they cannot yet be unpacked![21] Finally, there are collections of prayers and readings which are appropriate for the Chanukat Habayit ceremony. According to the Chida, who wrote an entire book on this subject, one is to recite all the Mishnayot of Berachot, Beitza, and Tamid as well as excerpts from the Zohar, Gemara, and Rambam in the presence of a minyan as part of the Chanukat Habayit ceremony. 


[1] Devarim 20:5, Rambam Melachim 7:1-5

[2] Targum Yonatan;Devarim 20:5

[3] Bava Batra 29a

[4] Rambam Berachot 11:2

[5] Shut Harabaz 1:43

[6] All halachic authorities seem to use either the word “purchasing” or “building” when discussing Chanukat Habayit issues.

[7] According to some authorities it is only by rabbinic decree that one places a Mezuza upon the doorposts of a home that one rents, whereas when you own the home the requirement is Biblical. Tosfot;Menachot 44a

[8] Zohar 3:50

[9] Tanchuma;Bereishit 2, Sheiltot 1:102

[10] Divrei Malkiel 1:3:8

[11] Pitchei Teshuva Y.D. 217:16, Be’er Sheva 72, Kaf Hachaim 568:25

[12] Berachot 54a, O.C. 223:3

[13] Ketubot 110b

[14] Gittin 8b, Rambam Shabbat 6:11

[15] Yerushalmi Sota 8:4, Be’er Sheva 72, Rambam Melachim 7:14, Kaf Hachaim 568:25, Magen Avraham O.C. 568:5

[16] Divrei Malkiel 4:8, Shut Harabaz 1:43

[17] Chavot Ya’ir 70

[18] Ibid.

[19] Avot 2:10

[20] Rosh Hashanah 16b; Bava Metzia 75b

[21] Directive of Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson

 

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About the author

Ari Enkin

Rabbi Ari N. Enkin is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He is the author of “The Dalet Amot Halacha Series” (6 Vol.) among other works of halacha. rabbiari@hotmail.com

 
The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.
 

32 Responses

  1. Eric says:

    violate Shabbat – should clarify that this applies rabbinic prohibitions only?

  2. Ari Enkin says:

    Yes! Ha’arah noted and appreciated. More details would have been preferable.

    Ari Enkin

  3. R. ENKIN:

    if one has a mortgage, is he really considered an owner or a renter?

    ” It is on this premise that purchasing a home is a goal which one should aspire for and an elaborate dedication ceremony is in order.”

    i don’t think this sentence flows logically from the previous one.

    “The seuda is also considered to be a meal of thanksgiving for the newly attained opportunity to perform the many more mitzvot that owning a home allows one to fulfill”

    many? such as? a fence on the roof?

    “One is advised to purchase a home at one’s earliest opportunity”

    iirc according to the rambam only after one has a parnasa. (the reverse is considered a curse; marriage also factors into the proper order of things)

  4. Ari Enkin says:

    Abba-

    Even with a mortgage the house is considered yours according to halacha.

    Ari Enkin

  5. R> ENKIN:

    does r. bleich have a chapter in a lter volume of contemporary hal issues that deals with implications of the status of a mortgaged home.

  6. Elliot Pasik says:

    Now you got me thinking in light of Sandy. We’re still without heat and hot water in Long Beach, NY, and eagerly awaiting the installation of our new boilers. When they arrive, maybe we’ll do the chanukas habayis and seuda that we skipped when we first bought it.

  7. Isaacson says:

    Thank you for this post. If possible could you provide a link to the text from the Chidah? Do any/all of these halachot apply for a second home?

  8. Mr. Cohen says:

    Rabbi Ari Enkin said:

    “According to the Chida, who wrote
    an entire book on this subject…”

    What is the name of that book?

  9. Chaim says:

    Please see David’s comment from the last post.
    R Ari-
    One should recite the blessing of “Shehecheyanu” at one’s Chanukat Habayit.[12]
    I dont need to look the sources up to know that neither the gemara nor SA say that you should make the bracha at the chanukat habayit. Why do you make that assumption?

  10. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    sefardim (i believe morroccans and parsim, esp) make a big deal of chanukat habayit. they even invite the rav to come, and put up the (main) mezuzah. ashkenazim have tzavvat r yehudah hachassid.

    as for chaim — sfardim make a shehechayanu on everything; ashkenazim tend not to. (would make a good post topic.)

    “idolaters would …” — why is this not then chukat ha’akum (or even worse)?

  11. Ari Enkin says:

    Chaim-

    “…bana bayit chadash”. See the OC citation.

    Ari Enkin

  12. Chaim says:

    Ari-
    what does that have to do with making a bracha at the chanukas habayis. You make the bracha when you have completed building the house. that has nothing to do with the chanukas habayis.

  13. Ari Enkin says:

    Chaim-

    There are grounds -and there are many who choose to do so- to delay shehecheyanu for the Chanukat Habayit itself. It is my personal approach, as well.

    Ari Enkin

  14. MMY:

    “sefardim (i believe morroccans and parsim, esp) make a big deal of chanukat habayit. they even invite the rav to come”

    i have a friend who is a bukharian rav/shochet and he is always being called to “officiate” at a chanukas habayis, replete with shechting of an animal. very wierd, imho.

    (what does ra yehuda hachasid have to do with this?)

  15. MiMedinat HaYam says:

    abba — another thing sfardim like to do — fresh fresh meat. or maybe should say, no real party without the shochet and fresh meat.
    r y hachassid — i refer to his house building / design, etc rules. wouldnt be surprised if he refers to chanukkat habayit.

  16. Jacob says:

    R’ Ari:

    Do you have a good answer for why someone who buys/ builds a new house for his family makes a shehecheyanu rather than a hatov vehameitiv? The MB in Biur Halacha 223:3 rejects the answer given by the Eliya Rabba and seems to end off by suggesting that one indeed should say hatov vehameitiv if he has family members who benefit, but in the M”B commentary he seems to only apply this change when two partners buy the house.

  17. Chaim says:

    Ari-
    what are those grounds (besides it being your personal approach)

  18. Chaim says:

    and maybe that should be the citation

  19. Meshulum says:

    Rabbi Ari,
    Why don’t you fix the text of the erroneous statement that “chillul shabbos is allowed for purchasing a home in eretz yisrael”?

    Chillul shabbos is not permitted. The only thing permitted in both sources is amira laakum. There is no issur even midrabannan of Amira lakum in this circumstance. The rabbanan are said to have not set up the issur of amirah laakum here. It is a sort of a Hutra, not even Dichuyah situation.

    The gemara quotes Rav Sheshes that “Kotvim Alav Ono afilu be shabbos” And the gemara asks Beshababs Salka Datach (Seriously? Writing on shabbos?)

    And the gemara answers that it merely means that the prohibition of Amira Lakum is Not present here because of the mitzva of Yishuv eretz yisrael.

    Similarly the Rambam says that the Gezera of amira Laakum was not made in this circumstance

    This should be fixed.

  20. MMY:

    yeah, i know they like it fresh. but it still seems wierd to me. almost like they consider it a korban that is part of the chanukas habayis.

  21. Mordechai says:

    “The Torah conveys to us the importance of formally dedicating one’s new home by exempting from army service those who had recently purchased a home but had not yet dedicated it.”

    For the record, the posuk talks about building a house. Even if one says that purchasing is equivalent to building, let us still not forget what the posuk actaully says.

    “there are quite a number of the Torah’s mitzvot that are dependant upon owning a home, such as ……welcoming guests.”

    I assume you mean הכנסת אורחים. Why can that not be done with a rental unit?

    “the Chida, who wrote an entire book on this subject”

    Looks to me to be just a section of one of his works.

  22. Ari Enkin says:

    Meshulum-

    You’re right. Frankly, the only reason I didnt fix it is because Im not sure I know how! Im not very technology savy. I did fix my manuscript, though.

    RAV GIL — Do feel free to change to “….the prohibtions of amira l’akum on shabbat is waived in order to purchase a home in Eretz Yisrael.” if you agree.

    Ari Enkin

  23. Ari Enkin says:

    Chaim-

    Please forgive my amateurish apporach right now in answering, but I just dont have the time to cite the sources.

    The matter is comparable to a) those who could have recited hagomel on Mon. or Thur but delay till shabbos b) ditto for baby namings c) one is supposed to recite Kiddush Levana the first time one sees the moon (whether after 3 or 7 days according to your minhag). If wouldnt didnt, one is techinically not permitted to recite it later on at another opportunity — but we do allow it lemaaseh. d) ditto -and even more so- for Birkat Ilanot.

    Hence, we see that there are grounds to delay the recitation of a blessing for a mroe convenient or opportune time as well as for the sake of b’rov am. Do note as well, that the Bach allows one to recite Shehecheyanu any time one wants.

    Ari Enkin

  24. Ari Enkin says:

    R’ Jacob-

    If I am not mistaken, none of the poskim achronim mention a need to recite hatov v’hameitiv. They all just go with shehecheyanu as is the ruling of the S.A.

    If you are really interested in this subject, there is a fellow who is a known expert in all the nuances between shehecheyanu and hatov v’hameitiv and has published onn the issue: Rabbi Refael Meir (Kiryat Sefer) 08 – 974 – 1185.

    Ari Enkin

  25. Ari Enkin says:

    For more on mortgage/ownership/chanukat habayit:

    Tzitz Eliezer 12:19.

    Ari Enkin

  26. Ari Enkin says:

    Dear Readers-

    A rather large number of copies of my latest sefer “Shu”t Hashulchani” have very slight damages/imperfections. I am giving them away for the price of shipping ($8). If you’re interested: rabbiari@hotmail.com.

    Ari Enkin

  27. Chaim says:

    Ari
    Regardless of whether your assumptions are correct, your citation of a gemara and SA as support for your assumption is certainly incorrect.

  28. Ari Enkin says:

    Chaim-

    ….Strongly disagree

    Ari

  29. Chaim says:

    What are you talking about? You wrote that one should say shehcheyanu at the chanukas habayis. the sources you cited do not say that or imply that. saying it a chanukas habayis is based on the extensions which you cited in your recent comment. How do you justify citing a gemara and SA as a source for something which isnt mentioned at all in the source?

  30. Ari Enkin says:

    …because the “banah bayit chadash” of Shulchan Aruch is realized at the “Chanukat Habayit”.

    Your literal reading is certainly legitimate. The reality is that normative practice is as I’m saying, and yes, it is based on the S.A.

    Ari Enkin

  31. Shlomo says:

    abba — another thing sfardim like to do — fresh fresh meat. or maybe should say, no real party without the shochet and fresh meat.

    Sounds like korbanot (todah, shlamim…)

 
 

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