Building a Fence Around One's Roof

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The Torah obligates a person to build a fence around his roof so that no one falls off it. It is derived from the pasuk "כי תבנה בית חדש ועשית מעקה לגגך ולא תשים דמים בביתך" - "When a person builds a new house he shall build a fence for his roof; he should not allow blood to be spilled in his home."[1] Chazal include building a fence around other structures that are dangerous without a fence.[2]


  1. There is a positive Torah command to build a fence on the roof of a house that’s used for living.[3]
  2. The fence on the roof must be ten Tefachim (86 centimeters) and strong enough so it would prevent someone from falling.[4]

Which Roofs?

  1. Any flat roof requires a maakeh (a three-foot wall to keep people from falling off), even if people only walk on the roof occasionally.[5] A roof that is not used does not need a fence.[6]
  2. Shuls and Batei Midrash are exempt from putting a fence on the roof since these buildings aren’t meant for living.[7]
  3. Some say that there’s no obligation for a slanted roof.[8]
  4. A building used for storage or animals doesn’t require a fence on the roof.[9]

Other Things

  1. If one has a pit in one's property one must erect a fence of ten Tefachim around it or cover it up so that someone doesn't fall in.[10]
  2. Some say that a window that can be opened and is situated less than ten Tefachim from the floor requires a fence outside of it,[11], as a child could innocently open the window and fall out. Although others disagree Halachically,[12] some admit that one should for safety reasons install a fence of some sort without a Bracha.[13] Some even recommend always installing locks on windows that are even above ten Tefachim in homes with small children.[14] Moreover, some say that glass itself can never be used for a fence,[15] as it doesn't fulfill the Rambam's definition of being able to sustain the pressure of someone leaning on it, but others disagree, since thick glass walls do fit that definition.[16]


  1. The bracha for building a fence around one's roof is "ברוך אתה אדני אלוהינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו לעשות מעקה" - "Baruch Atta Adonay Elohenu Melech Haolam Asher Kidshanu Bimitzvotav Vitzivanu Laasot Maakeh" is recited when building the fence.[17]
  2. Poskim hold that there is no bracha when building a fence for a pit in one's yard.[18]
  3. No shehechiyanu is recited upon completing building a fence for one's roof.[19]



  1. Devarim 22:8
  2. Sifrei Devarim 22:8
  3. Based on the pasuk, Devarim 22:8, כִּ֤י תִבְנֶה֙ בַּ֣יִת חָדָ֔שׁ וְעָשִׂ֥יתָ מַעֲקֶ֖ה לְגַגֶּ֑ךָ, Sefer Hachinuch 546, Rambam Sefer Hamitzvot Aseh 184, Sefer HaMitzvot Hakatzar of the Chofetz Chaim 77, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 190:1
  4. Shulchan Aruch C.M. 427:5, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 190:1
  5. Sh"t Rivivot Ephraim 1:35
  6. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 190:1
  7. Shulchan Aruch C.M. 427:3 based on Gemara Chullin 136a
  8. See Mishneh Halachot 4:243, Yalkut Yosef (Chupah VeKiddushin pg 669)
  9. Shulchan Aruch C.M. 427:1, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 190:1
  10. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 190:1
  11. Emek Beracha page 34, Rav Hershel Schachter (Bava Kamma 5778-9 #6)
  12. Shu"t Machazeh Eliyahu vol. 1 Siman 121:1-2 claims that either because as long as the walls of the room indicate clear limits of one's walkable range, there can be "holes" in the Maakeh or because the window is narrow enough for one to grab on to the sides if he falls, that the Emek Beracha is incorrect.
  13. Shu"t Teshuvot veHanhagot vol. 1 Siman 848. He quotes Rav Chaim Kanievsky who claims the Chazon Ish disagreed with the Emek Beracha. Indeed, the Steipler (Mezuzah uMaakeh, Hilchot Maakeh Seif 31) claims he heard the Chazon Ish say so himself. See also Yevakesh Torah (Shulchan Aruch) Siman 118
  14. Shevet HaKehati (vol. 4 Siman 311:1-2), Yalkut Yosef (Sova Semachot vol. 1, Ketzat MeHilchot Maakeh 24)
  15. Emek Beracha page 34
  16. Shu"t Machazeh Eliyahu vol. 1 Siman 121:1-2, Aruch HaMishpat Siman 427 page 32
  17. Rambam Berachot 11:8, Pitchei Teshuva 427:1. See, however, Aruch Hashulchan who suggests a reason why a bracha is not necessary for building a fence on one's roof.
  18. Pitchei Teshuva 427:1 quoting Nishmat Adam 15
  19. Pitchei Teshuva 427:1 quoting Nishmat Adam 15