Monday, September 1, 2008

וכתבתם על מזוזת ביתך ובשעריך

On Which Side you you Place the Mezuza on your Back Yard?

One of the interesting privileges of living in Eretz Yisrael is that unlike Chutz L'Aretz the obligation to attach a Mezuza applies from the first day that you move into a house. So last summer when we moved into our own home, before going to bed the first night we made sure that there was a Mezuza on every door.

I had a few questions about some of the doorways - did our storage room need a mezuza? What about the archway before the house which sort of had a lintel, but not really. Fortunately a few days before we moved in, I saw Rabbi Lau walking past and he agreed to step in for a few minutes to answer my Mezuza questions.

One of the doorways that I didn't ask about was the door from the back yard leading into the house - to me it seemed obvious that the house had two entrances, front and back, and each entrance would require a mezuza on the right side when entering the house - well at least to me it seemed obvious....

My brother was here the other day, together with an old school friend who was visting Israel, and the both asked why I had put the mezuza on the left (leading into the yard) - I pointed out that this was the right (leading into the house), but my brother pointed out that there was no way to access the yard except through the house, therefore the doorway was primarily entering the yard and the mezuza should be on the other side - or at least I should ask a question.

Well, tonight on my way to the Daf I passed Rabbi Weitzman and asked him, turns out things aren't as simple as they seem. He said it was a Machloket: Rav Moshe (Igrot Moshe, Yoreh De'ah 1:17) says that the Mezuza should be on the right side as you enter the house, Rav Shlomo Zalman and the Chazon Ish (Yoreh De'ah 168:7) say that it should be on the right as you enter the yard.

With that background, I thought that I should look deeper into the question, and found that the Achronim seem to be split down the middle on this issue. She'arim Metzuyanim Ba'Halacha (11:3) discusses this isse, here is a rough translation:
On Which side should you place a Mezuza?

The Taz writes (289:104):
If a courtyard is closed from all sides, and there is doorway from the house to the courtyard, we consider this an entrance from the house to the courtyard and should affix the mezuza on the right as you enter the courtyard.

The Beit Meir (289) disagrees with this opinion:
Since by the letter of t
he Law a courtyard is exempt from a mezuza altogether, because it is not roofed, so the obligation of the courtyard is only from the strength of the house.

The Daat Kedoshim (289:109):
At first he disagrees with the opinion of the Beit Meir, but later he accepts his words with hesitation.

Also the Lechem Hapanim is doubtful, and disagrees with those saying that you should place it on the right of the entrance to the house.

The Minchat Patim (289) rules like the Taz.

All of these disagreements also apply to a balcony or railing or exit before the house.

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