Where to Establish One’s Residence

With regard to your writing about where a person should establish his residence:

The determining factor is not where it will be best and most pleasant for him, but where he can do the most good and where his assistance is most needed.

This is similar to a medical doctor, who is to establish his residence where his help is needed most and not where he hopes to find the most comfortable life.

Truly, each and every individual is responsible for “healing” his environs, to imbue it with additional “light” and holiness. And with regard to Jews: the primary and main purpose of each and every one of them is to infuse his environs with a greater degree of Judaism.

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIII, p. 450)

In Whichever City One Establishes Residence
There Is the Responsibility to Transform That City

.. Even when only one chassid is found in an entire city, it is demanded of him that he transform it into a Chassidishe city.

He may well protest that he is but one individual, [i.e.,] how can he possibly conquer the whole city, especially when the city needs to be transformed in its entirety?

He must know that “Tzaddikim are similar to their Creator” — just as G‑d does not demand more than the person is capable of, so too, with the demands of tzaddikim: they demand of an individual only that of which he is capable.

Since the Rebbe demands this of him, it proves conclusively that he can bring about this transformation. Were this not so, the Rebbe would not have demanded it of him.

Moreover, the very demand empowers the chassid ... enabling him to reveal and manifest hidden and more powerful soul powers, thereby enabling him to fulfill his mission.

For when the Rebbe demands of the chassid, the chassid fulfills his task not with his own power, but with the Rebbe’s power. Therefore, even if he is but a solitary individual, he is able to stand up to an entire city.

..The chassid knows that spiritually, he is far from perfect. However, when the Rebbe demands something of him, he forges ahead not of his own powers, but with the Rebbe’s powers — and the Rebbe, himself, is surely entirely complete.

So, no matter how insignificant the person himself may be, he carries with him the completeness and perfection of the Rebbe who sent him, a state of completion that can never be negated.

(Sichos Kodesh 5714, p. 186)

The Transformative Power of Self-Sacrifice

Even when a person finds himself completely alone within an entire community or city and fails to see how he can possibly draw them to Torah and mitzvos, the person must know that he was granted the powers to do so.

He has an obligation regarding the entire surrounding community and environs — to draw them closer to Torah and mitzvos, transforming them into G‑d-fearing individuals, and with time — chassidim as well.

A Jew who merited to grow up and be educated by a Chassidic father, and who had the merit to see the Rebbe and hear from him words of Torah ... surely was endowed with the capacity and presented with the responsibility to have an impact on his entire community.

.. In our own generation, since the darkness of exile has increased and the people of the generation have become spiritually diminished, one seemingly cannot find a gateway and a means to transform the world from “bitterness to sweetness” and from “darkness to light,” especially so, when one observes how both he personally and the world as a whole are languishing spiritually.

But this only informs us that we need to work even harder, not that we are free from the task. For surely we have been given the tool with which to perform this task — the power of mesirus nefesh.

While our revealed spiritual powers have indeed presently diminished, the hidden soul-power of mesirus nefesh is even stronger in the present generation.

When we face the world with mesirus nefesh ... then, even a single, solitary Jew can impact an entire community, transforming them into G‑d-fearing Jews and chassidim.

(Toras MenachemHisvaaduyos, Vol. II, pp. 316-318)

Reside in a City Where Residents Are G‑d-fearing And Residences Are Inexpensive

In reply to your question as to where the young couple should reside after their wedding, in a good and auspicious hour:

It would be best for them to reside in a location where the residents are G‑d-fearing individuals, and where the prices of the residences are inexpensive — at least relatively inexpensive.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVI, p. 203)

Reside in a Place Where Residents Are Both G‑d-Fearing and Chassidic

In reply to your question as to where your daughter tichye should reside after her wedding, in a good and auspicious hour:

Your future son-in-law is understandably correct in stating that the residence should be specifically among G‑d-fearing individuals, as this is of crucial importance, and all other matters about which you write pale in comparison.

However, in these times, and particularly in the Holy Land, it is imperative that it be [not only a G‑d-fearing environment, but] also a Chassidic environment.

Since our Sages, of blessed memory, have assured us,1 “If you put in effort, you will surely succeed,” therefore with proper effort on their part they will surely succeed regarding the above, [i.e., finding a residence among G‑d-fearing and Chassidic individuals].

(Shaarei Halachah U’Minhag, Vol. IV, p. 128)

Live in a Neighborhood of Individuals Who Observe Torah and Mitzvos

Your letter reached me with considerable delay. In it, you ask my opinion or advice as to the place in which an Orthodox Jew, a family man, should choose to settle with his family.

This advice has already been given by our great teacher, the Rambam: A Jew must do everything possible to live in a neighborhood and in a community of individuals who observe Torah and mitzvos.

The Rambam emphasizes the vital import of this advice by continuing that if there is no possibility of avoiding living in an unsuitable place, it is better to live in a cave or in a desert, rather than in such unsuitable company.2

Note also that the Rambam speaks there of an adult Jew, of one who is not necessarily obligated to maintain close contact with a Jewish environment, etc.

How much more so [is this applicable] in our society, where one must perforce maintain close contact with a Jewish environment, especially where children are involved, in view of their vulnerability to unsuitable influences.

It should also be remembered that the education and upbringing of children does not begin at the age of bar mitzvah or bas mitzvah, but at a very early age, and that the impressions and influences received at that age are lasting ones.

(From a letter of the Rebbe, written in the year 5725)

Do Not Reside in a Place That Lacks Even Minimal Religious Requirements

In reply to your letter of the 18th of Av, in which you inquire as to the [religious] conditions in the city of...:

It would seem that the situation there, with regard to Judaism, is not as it should be, and it is extremely doubtful whether you will find there those things about which you write.

In any event, the position [offered to you there] does not befit a young man who was just recently married.

You should move instead to an environment of G‑d-fearing individuals, observers of Torah and mitzvos, or at least in a location that is nearby [such an environment].

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 354)

Better Purchase Than Rent

In general, I like the idea of purchasing a dwelling rather than renting one, as it is a shame that so much money is spent on rent, when it could have been better utilized in paying off a mortgage.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVII, p. 57)3

The Opinion of the Wife Is Crucial Regarding a Residence

In reply to your question with regard to a residence:

In the main, when there is a question regarding one’s residence, the wife’s opinion holds a lot of weight — and for many reasons.

Thus, if, in a pleasant and gentle way, you can convince your wife to continue residing in your current place of residence — especially, as you write that you are already living there for two years — then that would be fine.

If, however, she does not at all agree to this, then you should acquiesce to her wishes.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XVI, p. 36)

Spiritual Preparations For Moving Into the New Residence And Preparing the Residence For Proper Spiritual Habitation

Before Moving Into a New Residence Place Therein a Siddur, Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya

In response to your notifying me that you are moving into your residence this week:

Surely, [before bringing anything else into the residence,] you will first bring in a Siddur, Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya.

May it be G‑d’s will that you dwell there in peace and prosperity, and may G‑d fulfill your requests for good in all details.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. VI, p. 171)

Before bringing anything else into the residence, you should first bring in a Siddur, Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 408)

Before Moving Into a New Residence Place Therein Bread and Salt

The custom of Anash is to first bring into the residence a Siddur, Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya. This is in addition to the custom (which I believe is common to all) [of bringing in] bread and salt.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIX, p. 390)

The Sacred Books a Home Must Contain

There should be found within the private residences of each and every Jew the basic books of Judaism. Included in this, and of primary importance, are books of Jewish law that apply to the daily life of a Jew, so that the husband and wife will know what is required to be done [and what is prohibited from being done].

([This is, of course,] in addition to a Chumash, Siddur, and Tehillim — and within a Chassidic home, a Tanya as well.)

.. So, too, with regard to a chassan and kallah who are preparing to build a Jewish home:

In concert with their efforts to obtain furnishings for their home — “a bed, chair, table and lamp”4 — they are to exert themselves (indeed, this should be their primary effort) that the house contain sacred books, which they will use for Torah study.

So much so [will the house be influenced by these sacred volumes], that the house verily becomes a “house filled with sefarim5 — included in which phrase is the interpretation that the entire physical edifice and all its accoutrements are permeated with the content and substance of the sefarim.

In the words of our Rabbis,6 the house itself becomes “an assembly place for Sages.”

(Sefer HaSichos 5748, Vol. I, p. 191)

A Chassidic Home Should Possess Three Sacred Chassidic Works

It is vital and proper that chassidim should have the following three books in their possession: Kesser Shem Tov [containing teachings of the Baal Shem Tov], Or Torah [contining teachings of the Mezritcher Maggid] and Tanya [of the Alter Rebbe]. For certain reasons, however, they should not be bound together in one volume.

One should study them as much as one wishes (though let that study be worthy of the term [study]!) daily, or at least on Shabbos and Yom Tov and at certain other times.

(Sefer HaMinhagim, p. 85)

Placing a Pushkeh in the Residence

There is the established Jewish custom that the chassan receivea gift of sefarim — here, in this country, the custom is that he receivea Shas and the like.

It should also be established that in the “new home” a gift that is connected to tzedakah be brought— a tzedakah pushkeh, a “charity box.”

As often noted, a tzedakah pushkeh in the home serves as a constant reminder of the commandment of tzedakah; seeing the tzedakah pushkeh, both during weekdays and weeknights, as well as during Shabbos and Yom Tov, constantly reminds the person about the mitzvah of tzedakah.

[Thus,] even when the individual is not actually giving tzedakah at a given moment (because there are no impoverished and needy individuals, and the like), [the tzedakah pushkeh reminds the person of the commandment of tzedakah].

This will then serve as a reminder both “below,” [i.e., to the inhabitants of this world,] and “above,” [those who inhabit the spiritual realms,] that this is a home built on Torah and mitzvos:

On Torah — inasmuch as it is “a home filled with sefarim”; on mitzvos — by means of the tzedakah pushkeh, as tzedakah represents the general aspect of mitzvos.

This is why it should become the norm that when a “new residence” is created through married life, or even when one moves from one residence to another, one should carry into the home — together with the sacred books — a tzedakah pushkeh as well.

.. Understandably, the tzedakah pushkeh should not be concealed because the person is — G‑d forbid — embarrassed by it. To the contrary, the tzedakah pushkeh is one of the adornments of the home and it makes the home glisten, as it indicates that this is a residence from whence emanates tzedakah to all those who are in need of it.

(Sichos Kodesh 5739, Vol. I, p. 364)

It has already been mentioned on many occasions that we are to see to it that every Jewish home possess a tzedakah pushkeh, as this reminds [G‑d] of the merit of the mitzvah,7 and rouses the individual to give tzedakah, which acts as protection [for the giver].

Thus our Sages, of blessed memory, have stated:8 G‑d says, “The soul of the pauper was about to depart [his body] because of his extreme hunger, and you provided him with life. I promise you that I shall return a life for a life.

“Tomorrow your son or daughter will ... [find themselves in precarious circumstances] and I shall remember them for the mitzvah you performed with the pauper, and I shall save their lives.”

(Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XIII, p. 212)

Placing a Pushkeh in the Kitchen

.. However, in order for the Jewish woman to succeed in her crucial task and for the food in her home to be “glatt kosher,” she is in need of Divine assistance.

This in no way is a minimization of her honor (i.e., that she is not being relied upon [with regard to matters of kashrus], since even the greatest tzaddik and so, too, the greatest tzidkanis are in need of assistance and aid from Above.

This Divine assistance is received when one gives money to tzedakah for the sake of [purchasing] food and drink for the impoverished.9

When G‑d sees that this woman has a feeling of love for a fellow Jew and she gives tzedakah to the poor because she is concerned for their welfare10 — even the welfare of a pauper whom she has never seen — then G‑d will conduct Himself in a manner of “measure for measure.”11

He will then give her tzedakah from His full, open, holy and generous hand, and assist her in her awesome task, so that the food will be kosher, and as a result the food will be tastier and sweeter (even in a physical sense).12

Moreover, when the woman will give tzedakah prior to preparing the meal, this acts as a sign and commemoration that she connects her food with the food of the poor individual.

It is true that she currently does not know the address of the poor person and consequently it will take quite a while for the money to reach him.

Nonetheless, since she is presently placing the money in the tzedakah pushkeh and she is presently thinking about a poor person someplace on this planet who lacks food, she is therefore now linking the meal with the poor person.

This is so, for in her mind she is thinking that as soon as she obtains the address of the poor person or when the “pushkeh collector” will come to her house to empty the tzedakah pushkeh, this money will go to the poor person.

This is particularly so, in light of the saying of the Baal Shem Tov,13 that “In the place where a person’s desire is found, that is where he is found.”

Now, with regard to giving tzedakah, it is best for the woman not to rely solely on her memory ... for which reason it is best for her to make a sign that reminds her to give tzedakah.

This can best be achieved by permanently placing a tzedakah pushkeh in her kitchen.14 When the tzedakah pushkeh will constantly be before her, it will surely remind her to give tzedakah.

On Shabbos and Yom Tov, when it is forbidden to carry money and give tzedakah, then the very presence of the tzedakah pushkeh will remind her that she gave tzedakah before Shabbos and Yom Tov and she will immediately resolve to give tzedakah after Shabbos and Yom Tov.

This will immediately draw down G‑d’s Divine blessings, that the food be kosher, etc.

In order to perform the mitzvah of “Love your fellow as yourself,”15 it would be fitting to place the tzedakah pushkeh in a conspicuous place.16

This way, when friends or guests enter her home ... the tzedakah pushkeh will be prominent and she will explain to them its purpose. This will rouse them as well to place a tzedakah pushkeh in their homes.

(Hisvaaduyos 5748, Vol. IV, p. 343)

Attach a Pushkeh to the Kitchen Wall of the Residence

According to Jewish law, when one attaches and affixes the tzedakah pushkeh to the wall of the home with a nail or something similar, it becomes part of the house. It is then considered as if the person built a new home: “a home of charity.”17

Another benefit of having the tzedakah pushkeh attached to the wall:

Our Sages, of blessed memory, state:18 “The world stands on three things — on [the study of] Torah, the service [of G‑d], and deeds of kindness.” Just as the world at large stands on these three things, so too does the microcosmic world of man — his private home — stand on these three principles.

Thus, when a person affixes a tzedakah pushkeh in his home, doing so in a manner that according to Jewish law it becomes part of his house — in addition to placing a bookcase in his home in a manner that according to Halachah it becomes part of the home and he places there sacred books and prayer books — the home then becomes a “house of Torah,” a “house of divine service,” and a house of “deeds of kindness.”

By combining these three aspects, he adds permanence and strength to his home.

In practical terms: a tzedakah pushkeh should be affixed to the kitchen wall with a nail and the like. This will transform the entire abode into a “house of tzedakah.”

(Hisvaaduyos 5748, Vol. IV, p. 345)

Moving Day: When to Move In and When
Not to Move In To a New Residence

Best to Move In on a Tuesday

.. If it is not too difficult, it would be a good idea to move on [Tuesday,] the “day in which ‘it was good’ is stated twice.” If this poses some difficulty, you can move on any of the other weekdays (except for Monday and Wednesday).19

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 390)

Month of Nissan Is a Good Time To Move Into a New Residence

.. The idea of moving your possessions into your new residence prior to Pesach is a good one, for as known, the month of Nissan is the Month of Freedom20 — freedom from all [untoward] matters, including worries and limitations, etc.

Move in Elul, Not Av

.. In light of the well-known saying of our Sages, of blessed memory, if at all possible do not move into your new home during this month, [the month of Av,] but during the month of Elul, the Month of Mercy.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIX, p. 390)

Affixing the Mezuzos

You are no doubt aware of our custom to affix the mezuzos immediately upon moving into the house, needless to say without a blessing.21

Thirty days later, however, one of the mezuzos is removed for examination, and this mezuzah of course may be replaced by a better one. One now recites the blessing as one affixes the new mezuzah, having in mind those already in position on the other doorways.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. X, p. 218)

.. It is the custom of Anash to first bring into the residence a Siddur, Chumash, Tehillim and Tanya and also to immediately affix the mezuzos.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XV, p. 390)

When to Affix Mezuzos in Eretz Yisrael

With regard to affixing the mezuzos:

You should inquire as to the custom in the Holy Land regarding this matter.

Our custom, that is outside of Eretz Yisrael,22 is to affix the mezuzos without a blessing immediately upon moving into the house. Thirty days later one of them is removed for examination (or to exchange it for a better one). The blessing is then recited as one affixes the new mezuzah, having in mind those already on the other doorways.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XIX, p. 390)

Placement of the Mezuzos

A mezuzah should be affixed on the right, as one faces the room into which the door swings (“al pi heker tzir23 ).

This applies even to the sole doorway to a balcony — as was the case in the residence of my father-in-law, the Rebbe — in accordance with his ruling.

This rule does not apply to the front door; [i.e., irrespective of the above, the mezuzah is always on one’s right as one enters the house].

(Sefer HaMinhagim, p. 81)

Chanukas HaBayis — Housewarming

Having Children Study Torah in the New Residence Prior to Moving In

My father-in-law, the Rebbe, once related that when he got married a home was built for him, (i.e., an additional section was built on to an existing home). Prior to his moving in, however, children from the town’s Talmud Torah were brought into the home so that they could learn Torah there. Afterwards, he and his wife moved into the house.

A tale about an individual who devoted himself to the leadership of the Jewish people, particularly a story that he himself related, is not merely a story, but — as we mentioned earlier: the “Deeds of the father are a sign [and inspiration] to their progeny” — it is a lesson for us.

.. This aspect — of seeing to the Torah study needs of small children — is the fitting beginning of building a house in Israel, that it be with G‑d’s help an “eternal edifice” and that the person succeed as he goes out into the world to earn a living, as well as to merit children, life and ample sustenance.

(Toras MenachemHisvaaduyos, Vol. V, pp. 40-42)

Having Children Study Torah In the New Residence Prior to Moving In Serves as the Chanukas HaBayis

There is a Jewish custom of beginning [dwelling in a home,] by bringing children into the residence, in order for them to learn there Alef Beis or verses of Torah and the like. This serves as a [most fitting] Chanukas HaBayis.

(Sefer HaSichos 5748,Vol. II, p. 642)

Celebrating the New Home With a Chanukas HaBayis

.. With regard to a Chanukas HaBayis ...

Since it is a Jewish custom, and moreover — and this is of greatest import — that in a Chassidic discourse of the Alter Rebbe,24 he explains “the reason why we make a festive meal and rejoice at a Chanukas HaBayis,” therefore this practice should be observed.

When a Chassidic farbrengen will be held [in the new home,] at which time words of Torah and Chassidus will be delivered, then it will be beneficial both materially and spiritually.

(Igros Kodesh, Vol. XXI, p. 282)25