By Rabbi Yair Hoffman for 5tjt.com
You followed that crucial advice that your grandparents gave you to maintain three separate bank accounts – a checking account, a savings account, and a “stash” account. The stash account was only to be used for real estate. You listened to their wise, five-step advice and:
- You put 5 to 15 percent of all your income into the stash account.
- Any gift or extra money you got – you put in your stash account.
- Anytime you wanted to buy a soda or Snapple – you drank water instead and put the money you would have spent in your back pocket, and made a weekly deposit of it all in your stash account.
- You changed what you get your “jollies” from shopping on Amazon and eating out at restaurants to building your stash account.
- You put your tax returns directly into your stash account.
You worked hard, and now you bought your house. But what is the halacha in regard to a celebration? You have some vague recollection of their being an inyan to make a chanukas habayis and a seudah. Yet, there is no mention of it in neither the Shulchan Aruch nor the Mishna Brurah. Is there any such Mitzvah at all? Or is there a Mitzvah only when one buys or builds a house in Eretz Yisroel?
TWO VIEWS IN THE MOGAIN AVROHOM
The Mogain Avrohom in Siman 568:5 does bring two views in regard to a Chanukas HaBayis. He cites Rav Yissachar Ber Eilenberg in his Be’er Sheva (Siman 70) that the Mitzvah of building a home refers only to a home in Eretz Yisroel. The Mogain Avrohom also cites the view of the Maharshal in his Yam Shel Shlomo commentary on Bava Kamma (7:38) that if one establishes his home on a Torah footing with Divrei Torah and the like it is a Seudas Mitzvah. This view holds that the Mitzvah applies also outside of Israel.
THE DIVREI MALKIEL’S VIEW
Rabbi Malkiel Zvi Halevi Tenenbaum zt”l (1847-1910), in his Divrei Malkiel (Vol IV #8) writes that the concept of a Chanukas HaBayis is predicated upon the Mitzvah of Mezuzah. When someone rents an apartment or a house the Mitzvah of putting up a Mezuzah is only miDerabanan. However, when he puts up a Mezuzah in his own home – it is a Torah Mitzvah. The Divrei Malkiel thus holds that the concept of a Seudas Mitzvah applies to homes both in Eretz Yisroel as well as Chutz LaAretz. It also helps our appreciation of performing Mitzvos in the best possible manner.
THE SHLA HAKADOSH’S VIEW
The Shla in parshas Vayigash writes that the purpose of the Seudah is to ensure that he establish a place in his home where he will learn and study Torah, and all of Israel should do this. He derives this from the pasuk in Bereishis (46:28) where Yaakov Avinu sends Yehudah before him to Goshen in order to lehoros. The Shla HaKadosh also holds that it applies in Chutz LaAretz.
THE SHAIM MISHMUEL’S VIEW
The Shaim MiShmuel (Bereishis 5772) writes that a house is symbolic of property lines and borders – a narrowing or constriction of sorts. Bracha, on the other hand, is symbolic of unbounded blessing. The inyan of a Chanukas HaBayis seudah is to remind us of the notion of Chessed – of inviting others into our homes like our forefather Avrahan Avinu did. Through chessed and its performance we increase blessing. This notion as well applies in Chutz LaAretz.
THE YESOD VESHORESH HAAVODAH’S VIEW
Rav Alexander Susskind of Grodno, the author of the Yesod v’Shoresh HaAvodah (Shaar HaKollel chapter Two p. 108) cites the Zohar (Parshas Tazria 50a) that the purpose of building (or buying) a home is to enhance his ability to perform his Avodas Hashem – and that he should actually verbalize this. It also enables his home to be imbued with Kedusha and holiness. Indeed, he writes that the home owner must orally recite the following two formulas:
“I am purchasing or building this home for the sake of the Unification of Hashem’s Name in order that I can support myself and thus serve Hashem, may His Name be blessed, also that I have a place to rest and be able to serve the Honorable King.” When he establishes a special room to serve Hashem [in learning Torah] he should say, “I am establishing this room in which to study Torah regularly, both in the daytime and at night.”
From the aforementioned views we see that a chanukas habayis can (1) enhance our appreciation of Mitzvos, (2) inspire us to our true task of performing Chessed, (3) imbue our homes with Kedushah, (4) inspire us to additional avodas Hashem, and (5) set us on the right foot in our avodas Hashem.
In regard to the second point mentioned above – that of chessed, there is a fascinating insight that Rav Yechezkel Levenstein zt”l states regarding three of the words in the first part of Shemoneh Esrei, “Mechalkel chaim b’chesed.”
Many people recite these words without giving them too much thought. Those who do think deeply into it understand them as saying, “Hashem sustains life through His middah of chesed.” Others understand it as, “Hashem sustains life and does so by throwing in extras, even more than we need.”
Rav Chatzkel Levenstein, zt’l, had a different take on these words. He said that the “fuel” by which Hashem sustains us, the food that energizes us, is actually not food at all. It is not the wheat or the carbohydrates within it. It is not the proteins of cheese or meat or soy or beans. It is not the fats or the omega-3s. Rather, the means through which Hashem sustains life is in our ability to perform chesed — or opportunities to perform it. This is what sustains us and makes us who we are. We can prove that we are the descendants of Avraham Avinu precisely because of this middah, this essential aspect of our diet that sustains the world. Olam chesed yibaneh.
* Only 6500 dollars left to raise! There is a Yesoma who, boruch Hashem, is getting married shortly. If anyone would like to assist in making her chasuna please donate here or contact the author.*
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Mazel Tov M&R on your new home!