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Chapter 13:1-5
The Sanctity of a Synagogue

1.The sanctity of a synagogue or a house of study is very great. We are warned to be in awe of the One who rests within them, G-d, blessed be His name, as [Leviticus 19:30] states: "Fear My sanctuaries." This applies to a synagogue and a house o study, for they are also called sanctuaries, as [Ezekiel 11:16] states: "I will be a small sanctuary for them" and [Megillah 29a] interprets: "These are the synagogues and houses of study."

Accordingly, it is forbidden to engage in "idle talk" or to reckon accounts inside them. [The later does not apply] to accounts associated with a mitzvoh - e.g., that of the charitable fund and the like. These buildings should be treated with respect, and swept and mopped. Candles are lit in them to show them honor.

One should not kiss one's small children inside these buildings. In these places, it is not fitting to show any love other then the love of G-d, blessed be His name.

2.Before one enters them, one should clean the mud off one's feet and check that there is no dirt on one's person or on one's clothes. It is permitted to spit inside. However, one should immediately rub out the spittle with one's foot. *

* {On the Sabbath, it is forbidden to rub out the spittle. However, one should pass one's foot over it (Mishnoh Beruroh 151:25).}

3. One should not enter them in the heat [only to seek refuge] from the heat, or in the rain [only to seek refuge] from the rain. If one has to enter to call a colleague, one should enter, recite a verse, a mishnoh or a prayer, or listen to others studying - at the very least, he should sit for a while, for sitting in these buildings is also a mitzvoh - and then call his colleague.

4. It is forbidden to eat, drink, or sleep, even a short nap, inside these buildings. For the sake of a mitzvoh - for example, on Yom Kippur night - one may sleep them. However, one should move away from the holy ark. Similarly, it is permitted to eat there for the sake of a mitzvoh, as long as no drunkenness or light-headedness is involved.

People who study there on a regular basis may eat and sleep there, even for extended periods, so that they will not neglect their studies.

5. When constructing a synagogue, it is necessary to consult a Torah Sage, who will give directions how it should be built.

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Halacha-Yomi, Copyright (c) 1999 Project Genesis, Inc.

 

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