Zecher LeChurban

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Practices to remind oneself of the Churban

Leaving one's unfinished

  1. The Rabbis established that after the destruction of the temple it is forbidden to build a house that's completely plastered like palaces of kings rather one should coat it with lime and plaster and leave an Amah by Amah area unfinished adjacent to the doorway. [1] However, the Minhag is to be lenient and permit any type of structure as long as there is an Amah by Amah left unfinished. [2]
  2. Many in Klal Yisrael are unaware of this halacha and have thier house completely finished. Some lament the Minhag and some defend the Minhag. [3]
  3. If the house is bought one doesn't need to change the structure to leave an Amah by Amah unfinished. [4]

Leaving something out at a meal

  1. Some dish should be lacking at every meal (even one of guests) in memory of the Churban, this dish that one intentionally leaves out can be a small or not significant dish. [5]
  2. Some hold that one shouldn't use one's best dishes execpt for on Pesach as a Zecher LeChurban [6]

References

  1. Gemara Bava Batra 60b details the rabbinic institutions that Chazal made as a commemeration of the Churban. One of the laws was that it was forbidden to build a sturdy house like a palace. Another institution was to leave an Amah By Amah of the house unfinished. Such is the opinion of the Rambam (Hilchot Tanit) and S"A 560:1.
  2. Darkei Moshe says that the Minhag is to be lenient in this regard like the opinion of the Tur. Magan Avraham 560:1, Mishna Brurah 560:1 and Kaf HaChaim 560:3 concur.
  3. Shaarei Teshuva laments the fact that so many are unaware of this law and don't abide by it. Aruch HaShulchan defends the lenient practice considering the fact that the first Briatta in the gemara holds that if the building is made out of a mixture of sand in the lime/cement there is no requirement to leave an Amah by Amah unfinished. Kaf HaChaim 560:11 concurs. Aruch HaShulchan argues that the second Braitta which is quoted as halacha by the Rif, Rosh, Rambam, and Shulchan Aruch agrees with that idea that for a mixture it's permissible. The Aruch HaShulchan brings support from the Nemukei Yosef and Ran and leaves it as a Tzarich Iyun why Shulchan Aruch didn't mention this leniency.
  4. S"A 560:1
  5. S"A 560:2 rules that the meal even if there are guests should be lacking a little bit. Mishna Brurah 560:6 says that it's sufficient to leave out a small dish such as Kasa DeHarsana, some type of fish which is a minimum for the requirement of Oneg Shabbat (Mishna Brurah 242:2).
  6. Mishna Brurah 472:5 says that it's preferable to use dishes that aren't one's best as a Zecher Lechurban except for on Pesach.