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Weekly Halacha

Selected Halachos relating to Parshas Korach

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.

And Korach took... (16:1)
Korach asked... A house full of Seforim, does it require a Mezuzah? (Medrash Rabbah 18:3)


By pointing out the "absurdity" of affixing a Mezuzah to the door of a house filled with holy sefarim, Korach hoped to discredit the legitimacy of Moshe as the agent through whom Hashem transmitted His will to the Jewish people. Korach claimed that laws that did not make sense to him were not of Divine origin but formulated by Moshe. When the earth swallowed Korach and his followers, their blasphemous claim was demolished by Hashem Himself with utter finality: All mitzvos were given by Hashem to Moshe at Har Sinai, complete in all their aspects and transmitted exactly as they were received; we submit to all Divine commandments regardless of how sensible they seem to our limited and imperfect understanding. As the halachos of mezuzah were targeted by Korach as an object of derision, we shall discuss hilchos mezuzah.


It is a Biblical obligation for all adults, men and women (1), to affix a mezuzah to the right post of each doorway of their home. One who fails to do so transgresses a positive command (2). The mezuzah also serves as protection for a home (3) and safeguards the well-being of one's little children (4). The intention that one must have, however, when affixing the mezuzah to the door, must be "for the sake of the mitzvah of mezuzah" (5). Indeed, it is prohibited to consciously have in mind that the mezuzah is for the purpose of protection. Such an intention detracts from the essential character of a mitzvah, which is to fulfill Hashem's will with no other considerations (6).

Many poskim hold that it is rabbinically prohibited to live in a home which does not have proper mezuzos, just as it is prohibited to wear a four-cornered garment without tzitzis (7). These poskim rule that if another house is available, one must move out of his home as soon as he realizes that it is lacking proper mezuzos. He is permitted to temporarily remain in his home only if he is unable to obtain a mezuzah on the spot, or if he found out on Shabbos that his home has no mezuzah (8). Other poskim are somewhat more lenient and do not require the residents to move out if they have already moved in (9). All agree that the problem must be rectified immediately. There is absolutely no excuse for delaying the purchase and placement of a mezuzah for several days or weeks.

One may enter another Jew's home even though there are no mezuzos on his door (10).

It is clearly prohibited to nail a mezuzah case to a door post on Shabbos and Yom Tov (11). If the mezuzah case was nailed in before Shabbos or Yom Tov and remains intact, but the mezuzah parchment fell out, some poskim permit replacing the mezuzah in the case while others prohibit it (12). In any case, the mezuzah parchment does not become muktzeh and it may be picked up so that it does not lie on the floor in disgrace (13).


Contrary to what is commonly believed, the obligation begins as soon as one moves into his own home. By the first day or night that a home will be occupied, or by the first day or night that an addition to a home will be used, every doorway must have a mezuzah.

Indeed, many poskim hold that one should not affix a mezuzah before actually moving into a house (14) [even though he owns it and plans to move in in the near future], and certainly the blessing should not be recited until the actual move (15). Other poskim hold that once he has moved his belongings into the house, the mezuzah may be affixed with a blessing (16).

It is only when one rents [or borrows] a home from another person [outside of Eretz Yisroel] that a thirty day (17) waiting period is allowed until one becomes obligated to affix a mezuzah (18). The rishonim argue as to the reason for this exemption. Rashi (19) explains that until thirty days have elapsed, one can easily change his mind about the rental; thus the house is not really "his" until thirty days are over. Tosfos explains that the first thirty days of residence are considered as "temporary dwelling", and temporary dwelling does not obligate one to affix a mezuzah.

Based on Rashi's explanation, it follows that when a long-term contract is signed which legally obligates the renter for an extended period of time, then the obligation of mezuzah takes effect immediately (20). Moreover, if upon moving into the house, the renter fixes it up in a manner which shows that he is planning to remain there for a long while, logic dictates that a mezuzah be put up and the proper blessing recited. This, indeed, is the view of some poskim (21), and one may conduct himself in accordance with this view (22).

But many poskim advise that although the mezuzah should be affixed immediately upon moving in, the blessing should not be recited until the thirty day period is up (23). At that time, it is proper to remove one mezuzah, recite the blessing, and return the mezuzah to its proper place. If it is difficult or bothersome to do so, then the mezuzah need not be removed--merely touching it is sufficient for the blessing to be recited (24).

An exception to this is when one rents a bungalow or a summer home for a short stay. In such a case, the poskim agree that thirty days should elapse before a mezuzah is affixed (25).

If the thirty-day period is up on Shabbos or Yom Tov, the mezuzah should be affixed on Erev Shabbos or Erev Yom Tov before lighting candles. The blessing should be recited at that time (26).


1 Y.D. 291:3.

2 Sefer ha-Chinuch 423. See Menachos 44a where it states that two positive commands are transgressed. See also Teshuvos Binyan Tzion 7.

3 Tur Y.D. 285 based on Talmud Avodah Zarah 11a.

4 Shabbos 32b.

5 Tur Y.D. 285; Aruch ha-Shulchan 285:3.

6 Sdei Chemed (Mem-114) quoting Derech ha-Melech, based on Rambam (Hilchos Mezuzah 5:4) and Kesef Mishne, ibid. See also Igros Moshe Y.D. 2:141 who explains this issue at length.

7 Magen Avraham O.C. 13:8 as explained by Pri Megadim O.C. 38:15; Avnei Nezer Y.D. 381.

8 Pischei Teshuvah YD 285:1 quoting Pri Megadim; Aruch ha-Shulchan 285:5; Ben Ish Chai (Ki Savo).

9 See Sdei Chemed (Mem-115) Kuntres ha-Mezuzah (pg. 6 and pg. 128) and Tzitz Eliezer 13:53 who quote several poskim who hold that the Rabbis did not prohibit entering a house that has no mezuzah nor did they require one to move out of his dwelling when he realizes that there is a problem with the mezuzah.

10 Sdei Chemed (Mem-115) quoting Ruach Chaim.

11 Mishnah Berurah 313:41; 314:8.

12 Sdei Chemed (Mem-115) quotes both views. See Binyan Shabbos pg. 27 for an explanation. Tzitz Eliezer 13:53 rules leniently, while Mezuzas Melachim 286:19 is stringent.

13 Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (quoted in Shalmei Yehudah, pg. 28).

14 See Chovas Hadar 9:1.

15 Mishnah Berurah 19:4. This is the proper way--Harav S.Y. Elyashiv (oral ruling quoted in Avnei Yashfei 2:80).

16 Harav C. Kanievsky (Mezuzos Bei'secha 276:78) quoting the Chazon Ish. This also seems to be the view of the Aruch ha-Shulchan O.C. 19:3.

17 The day of the move, even if it is close to night, is day number 1. 29 days later, the obligation takes effect.

18 Y.D. 286:22

19 Menachos 44a.

20 Siddur Derech ha-Chayim quoted in Pischei Teshuvah 286: 18.

21 Several poskim quoted in Sdei Chemed (Mem--115) and Chovas ha-Dar pg. 31.

22 Aruch ha-Shulchan 286:49. See also Chayei Adam 15:22.

23 Pischei Teshuvah 286:18; Nachlas Tzvi; Sdei Chemed (Mem-115); Igros Moshe Y.D. 1:179.

24 Igros Moshe, ibid.

25 Igros Moshe, ibid.

26 Kuntres ha-Mezuzah, pg. 82. Another option is to nail the mezuzah case to the post before Shabbos and insert the mezuzah on Shabbos (Chikrei Leiv Y.D. 128). But, as stated earlier, some poskim do not allow this act on Shabbos.

Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 1997 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Project Genesis, Inc. Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.

The Weekly-Halacha Series is distributed L'zchus Hayeled Doniel Meir ben Hinda. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross

The series is distributed by the Harbotzas Torah Division of Congregation Shomre Shabbos, 1801 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118--HaRav Yisroel Grumer, Marah D'Asra



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