Building a Fence Around One's Roof

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Obligation

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

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. [3] A roof that is not used does not need a roof.[4]
  2. Shuls and Batei Midrash are exempt from putting a fence on the roof since these buildings aren’t meant for living. [5]
  3. Some say that there’s no obligation for a slanted roof. [6]
  4. A building used for storage or animals doesn’t require a fence on the roof. [7]

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.[8]
  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,[9], as a child could innocently open the window and fall out. Although others disagree Halachically, they agree that one should for safety reasons install a fence of some sort without a Bracha.[10] Moreover, some say that glass itself can never be used for a fence,[11] 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.[12]

Beracha

  1. The beracha of Asher Kidshanu Bimitzvotav Vitzivanu Laasot Maakeh is recited when building the fence. [13]

Links

Sources

  1. Based on the pasuk Devarim 22:8 כִּ֤י תִבְנֶה֙ בַּ֣יִת חָדָ֔שׁ וְעָשִׂ֥יתָ מַעֲקֶ֖ה לְגַגֶּ֑ךָ, Sefer Hachinnuch 546, Rambam Sefer Hamitzvot Aseh 184, Sefer HaMitzvot Hakatzar of the Chofetz Chaim 77, Kitzur S"A 190:1
  2. S”A C”M 427:5, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 190:1
  3. Sh"t Rivivot Ephraim 1:35
  4. Kitzur S"A 190:1
  5. S”A C”M 427:3 based on gemara chullin 136a
  6. See Mishneh Halachot 4:243, Yalkut Yosef (Chupah VeKiddushin pg 669)
  7. S”A C”M 427:1, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 190:1
  8. Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 190:1
  9. Emek Beracha page 34, Rav Hershel Schachter (Bava Kamma 5778-9 #6)
  10. 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 [www.otzar.org/wotzar/book.aspx?22807&pageid=P0289 Yevakesh Torah (Shulchan Aruch) Siman 118]
  11. Emek Beracha page 34
  12. Shu"t Machazeh Eliyahu vol. 1 Siman 121:1-2, Aruch HaMishpat Siman 427 page 32
  13. Rambam Berachot 11:8