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  • Family and Society
  • Mezuza

removing mezuzot


Rabbi David Sperling

Kislev 20, 5776
Rav, I live in Tel Aviv. I am moving out of an apartment that I am renting with roommates. My current landlord is secular. Once we move out she plans to renovate the apartment. Meaning, no one is moving in right after us. Can I take my Mezuzot with me? I am asking because I know that if a Jew rents from a Jew they must leave the mezuzot, but the apartment will be renovated after we leave and the landlord may just have the mezuzot removed and thrown away. This is a serious concern. I don’t want any harm to come to the Mezuzot. Even if I cannot put them up in my new apartment, can I at least take them to make sure they’ll be safe? A close friend told me I must leave them and what happens afterwards is no longer my responsibility. What should I do? Please direct me to precise halacha. Thank you.
Shalom, Thank you for your question. The Gemara (Baba Matzia 102) writes "Our Rabbis taught: If one rents a house to his neighbor, the tenant must provide a mezuzah. But when he quits it, he must not take it with him, excepting if it be leased from a Gentile, in which case he must remove it when he quits. And it once happened that a man took it away with him, and he lost his wife and two children. The story is quoted in contradiction! — Said R. Shesheth: It refers to the first clause." This is ruled as halacha in the Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh De'ah, 291,2. Based on this, it would seem at first glance that you may not remove the mezzuzot, as the apartment is in Tel Aviv, and is owned by a Jew, and will probably be rented out to a Jew also. However, as the apartment is to be renovated, you should remove the mezzuzot and take them to use in your next house. This is quoted in the name of the late Rabbi Y.E. Henkin zt"l, and is widely accepted. This is especially true in your situation where you express a real concern that the mezzuzot may come to harm if left up. You should make an effort to especially use the mezzuzot in your new apartment, as it may be a disgrace to the mezuzah to lower its status from being used to fulfill the mitzvah to being left unused in a draw. None the less – it may be worth the effort to speak to your landlady and offer to take the mezzuzot down and to re-affix them for her when she has finished her renovations. I do not believe you are obligated to make this effort, and you may just take the mezzuzot with you to your new house as we wrote above – but why not try to help another Jew perform a mitzvah? If she agrees, she should pay for the cost of the mezzuzot (unless you want to do a really big mitzvah of giving her mezzuzot as a gift). Of course, such an offer will depend on your relationship with her, and your willingness and ability to go to such lengths. If it is an option for you, it would be a very good deed. Blessings.
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