Kavod HaRav,

Regarding the obligation of zecher l’churban; Is it permissible for one to hang a meaningful picture of Jerusalem or the kotel ha’ma’aravi on the wall opposite the front door of one’s home if it has an inscription of the pasuk ‘im eshkahech yerushalayim…’ having the intention to designate it as a zecher l’churban, ie, in place of, or instead of the actual unpainted area. Does one fulfill his obligation, if so, le-chatchilla or b’dievad? If so, must it meet any size requirements? 

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Baruch Reuven Derringer
Brooklyn, New York

Answer:

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 560:1) rules that an area of one amah by one amah facing the front door must be left un-plastered, as a sign of mourning for the destroyed Mikdash.

The idea of placing a picture as an alternative to this is not suggested by the poskim, and we must assume that this is not a halachically feasible option. The reason for this is that Chazal enacted a particular form of mourning, whereby our homes are not built perfectly (in a similar sense, the Shulchan Aruch rules that person’s table should not be laid with the finest of foods to perfection).

However, note that the obligation of leaving an amah by amah without plaster does not apply to a home that was purchased with plaster from a non-Jew (Shulchan Aruch and Mishnah Berurah). Only if the home is renovated does the amah by amah need to be left without plaster.

In addition, although the amah by amah must be left un-plastered, it is permitted to cover it with a picture of the kotel (see She’elas Rav, p.370, inthe name of Rav Chayim Kanievsky).

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