How do you deconsecrate an area, building or holy thing, no longer used for a holy purpose ?


Once an item or a place has been consecrated for the purpose of something ‘holy,’ and actually used for this purpose, it cannot be deconsecrated. It remains consecrated, so that it may not be used for profane purposes, and it [an item] must be disposed of accordingly. However, not every ‘holy purpose’ would imply a consecration, and the halachah depends on further details. Furthremore, a temporary consecration, which is clearly limited by time, is not permanent.

Sources: See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 151-154.

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2 Responses to “Deconsecrating Something No Longer Used for a Holy Purpose”

  1. I agree that once consecrated and used for holy purposes,
    it cannot be used otherwise. But how do you dispose of a podium or altar that is falling apart or rotting? How do you deal with a building / place of worship that has to be vacated for various reasons?

    I await your answer.

    • Dealing with a rotting podium and the like is a thorny issue, which many poskim have discussed. Most write that the podium (or sefarim shelf, which is usually discussed) should be put into geniza (see Imrei Yosher 1:42; Dovev Meisharim 3:92; Tzitz Eliezer 7:7). Some permit using the wood as Sukkah boards (see Dovev Meisharim, loc. cit.). However, Yalkut Yosef (154:20; see sources he cites) writes that one can be sho’el (meaning, doing hatarah) on the original intention to set the item aside for holy purposes, and based on this idea permits making use of an old sefarim shelf for non-consecrated purposes. This idea would presumably also be effective for buildings and the like, though it is noteworthy that poskim do not mention it. It appears to be the only practical option for some circumstances.

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