Zecher LeChurban

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Practices to remind oneself of the Churban

Seeing the Kotel nowadays

  1. One who sees the Kotel in it’s destruction should rip his shirt a tefach and not have it sown up. [1] Moadim UZmanim (Vol 7 pg 209-11) writes that the Minhag not to rip one’s shirt can rely on those who say that really the ground that the Bet Hamikdash once stood and not the Kotel which is just a wall of Har HaBayit. (so writes Rav Tukachinsky in Eretz Yisrael 22:5). Another leniency which isn’t LeHalacha but just to defend the minhag is nowadays we don’t feel the churban like those who live in Yerushalyim unless it’s our first time or it’s been 12 months. Sh”t Mishnat Halachot 6:110 defneds the minhag similarly by saying that in our sorry state a person would feel worse for the loss of his shirt than for the loss of the churban, however, someone who feels for the loss of the Churban should rip the shirt and fulfill the Halacha. </ref>

Leaving one's home 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. [2] However, the Minhag is to be lenient and permit any type of structure as long as there is an Amah by Amah left unfinished. [3]
  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. [4]
  3. If the house is bought one doesn't need to change the structure to leave an Amah by Amah unfinished. [5]

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. [6]
  2. Some hold that one shouldn't use one's best dishes execpt for on Pesach as a Zecher LeChurban [7]

Listening to Music


  1. S”A O”C 561:2 writes that when one sees the place where the Mikdash used to stand and now remains in it’s destruction, one must rip one’s shirt a Tefach. Even though Sh”t Bet Mordechai 33 is lenient not to rip one’s shirt nowadays since Har HaBayit is under Israeli control, almost all achronim including Rav Ovadyah in Chazon Ovadyah (Vol. Arba Taniot pg 438), Rav Moshe Feinstein in Sh”t Igrot Moshe O”C 4:70:11, Rav Vosner in Sh”t Shevet HaLevi 7:78, Rav Hadayah in Sh”t Yaskil Avdi 8:25:4(4), and Zichron Betzalel pg 143 agree that even though Har HaBayit in is during Israeli control, it’s still an obligation to rip one’s shirt upon seeing the Makom HaMikdash.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. S"A 560:1
  6. 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).
  7. 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.