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Moving to a New Home

Moving to a New Home

What are the Jewish preparations for moving into a new home?

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"Location, location, location." This real estate truism is also emphasized in the words of the Jewish sages -- albeit with a slightly different intention.

In Ethics of our Fathers,1 Rabbi Yochanan asked of his five top students: "Go and see which is the best trait for a person to acquire." One of the students, Rabbi Yossi, felt that the most important "trait" for a person to acquire is a "good neighbor." Maimonides writes:2 "It is human nature that one's views and actions follow those of his acquaintances and fellows, and to behave like his fellow citizens. Therefore one must associate with righteous people..."

You wouldn't consider locating to a slum. Same is true in the spiritual senseFollowing this reasoning, the foremost Jewish consideration when contemplating relocation is the existence of a viable Torah observant community in the area. Available Jewish education, kosher food, mikvah (ritual pool), and an active community which provides a spiritual support system are essential. You wouldn't consider locating to a slum, even if the proposed home was beautiful. Same is true in the spiritual sense.

If you have already settled on a new home, congratulations on the move. According to the Talmudic sages,3 moving to a new location brings a change of mazal (luck, fortune). May this move be accompanied by a noticeable upswing in your mazal!

A good start provides a solid foundation for all that follows. Establishing the Jewish identity of the home from the onset is a way to make the house a vessel for all sorts of blessings. The primary requirement when moving to a new home is affixing a kosher mezuzah on the doorways of the residence. Visit our mezuzah section for all the information you will need on this special mitzvah which provides protection for all the inhabitants of the home.

The following is a list of suggested steps for one moving into a new home:

  • According to an age-old Jewish custom, the first items brought into a new home are bread and salt.4
  • It is recommended to bring some Jewish books5 and a charity box into the home even before the movers bring in the rest of the boxes. This establishes the Jewish flavor of the home; a home which will hopefully be a haven of study and kindness.
  • Tuesday is the most propitious day of the week for scheduling the actual moveTuesday is the most propitious day of the week for scheduling the actual move, the only day when G-d saw that "it is good" twice.6 Other than Shabbat and Jewish holidays, days of rest when any move would be prohibited, Mondays and Wednesdays are inauspicious days to plan a move. According to kabbalah, the Divine attribute of severity is dominant on these days.
  • Before moving into a new home, some have the beautiful custom of inviting a group of young children to study some Torah in the house. "The existence of the world is dependent on the [Torah issued from the] breath of children."7 The Torah study of young pure souls has a spiritually purifying effect on the entire area.
  • Shortly after entering a new home, it is customary to host a Chanukat Habayit (home dedication) party. At this gathering, words of Torah are spoken and family and friends use the occasion to express their blessings and wishes for a fruitful and happy stay in this new home.
  • See also Is there a blessing recited when moving in to a new home?
FOOTNOTES
1.

2:10.

2.

Laws of De'ot 6:1.

3.

Rosh Hashanah 16b; Bava Metziah 75b.

4.

While the reason for this custom is unknown, perhaps bread -- the basic staple of human sustenance -- is a metaphor for the prosperity we hope will accompany the inhabitants of this new domicile; and salt, which never decays, spoils, or loses its flavor, symbolizes the permanence of this new home.

5.

In Chabad circles, it is customary to bring into the home a Chumash (Pentateuch), Book of Psalms, and a Tanya (founding work of Chabad Chassidism).

6.

Genesis 1:10, 12.

7.

Talmud, Shabbat 119b.

Rabbi Naftali Silberberg is a writer, editor, and director of the curriculum department at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, NY, with his wife Chaya Mushka and their three children.
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Discussion (12)
April 20, 2014
never heard of one
there is no blessing to be said when exiting your erstwhile home for the last time.
gershon
ks
April 20, 2014
Home Blessings
Is there a Blessing to be said in the old home before leaving for the new one.
S. Gutmann
London. UK
May 10, 2012
jewish customs when moving into new home
is a trumpet blown? Like the Shofar?
Anonymous
Tallahassee, FL
March 17, 2012
Salt use in Jewish tradition
I knew that salt is very important in our day to day live and I sincerely thank God that I stumble upon this web page.
Please I will like to read to discover more!
Anonymous
Abuja, Nigeria
December 23, 2010
moving into a new dwelling
are honey or sugar also advisable items ?
interested
oak park, michigan
August 31, 2010
To Anonymous from Long Beach, CA
The advice not to move into a new house on Monday or Wednesday is from the Rebbe, from a letter dated Elul of 5717 (1957) – though he does not provide a reason.

Monday is a day of severity; the seven days of the week correspond to G-d’s seven attributes, and the second attribute, corresponding to Monday, is gevurah, severity. As for Wednesday, I believe that its “severe” nature has to do with the diminishing of the moon’s size which occurred on this day (of the Six Days of Creation).

If anyone has information or sources to add to the discussion, I’d appreciate!
Naftali Silberberg (Author)
August 23, 2010
To Rivkie
Yes, a chanukat habayit is also done when renting a home. According to Jewish law, renting is also a purchase -- a temporary one.
Naftali Silberberg (Author)
August 22, 2010
Mondays & Wednesdays
I was wondering what makes Mondays and Wednesdays days of severity?
Anonymous
Long Beach, CA
August 22, 2010
chanukas habayis?
I thought we only make a chanukas habayis when we buy a house. Do we do it also when renting?
Rivkie
December 30, 2009
New Home
Bread -- the basic staple of human sustenance -- is a metaphor for the prosperity we hope will accompany the inhabitants of this new domicile; and salt, which never decays, spoils, or loses its flavor, symbolizes the permanence of this new home (Footnote #4).
Michael
Toronto, Canada
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