One of the questions we ask our customers before painting their home is, “Do you want to leave a ‘zecher l’churban?”
What exactly is a zecher l’churban? After the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash, a number of practices were introduced to remind us of Jerusalem and the Beit Hamikdash. In addition to the common ones we often see such as breaking a plate at a t’naim, or breaking a glass under a chuppah, is leaving a small section of your home unpainted.
Ideally this unpainted section should be across from the front door of your home. As soon as you walk into your home you face the reminder of our loss. The unpainted section should be one square amah. Depending on different halachic opinions, my customers have requested the size from as small as 40 cm x 40 cm to as much as 60 cm x 60 cm.
The gemarah discusses leaving a section of a home unpainted, but most of my customers want more than just that. They will either ask us to remove the existing plaster and get down to the bare cement, or they will have us add plaster (that we then do not paint) to have it look like an unfinished section.
In a number of homes we have encountered quite exotic themes for a zecher l’churban. Not wanting to have your painter’s home have any less of a zecher l’churban, my family has also worked on a zecher l’churban that is quite unique.
First a little background on where I live. We are in a community in Jerusalem called Nof Zion (View of Zion). The name could not be more appropriate as we are just south of the Old City, and we see Har Habayit along with the Old City and Har Hazeitim from our windows. Our zecher l’churban is on the wall just next to floor-to-ceiling windows that give us our view. As can be seen in the picture, the center part is the typical, unfinished section of wall. In actuality it was finished and each member of my family chipped away to give it the unfinished effect. We then consulted an artist (whom I am always happy to recommend) to come up with a theme and actually draw the mural on the wall.
Under the unfinished section is a take on the standard Israeli tourism symbol of the spies carrying grapes. Here they are carrying the Dome of the Rock away – further east towards Mecca.
Above the unfinished area is a mural of building the Beit Hamikdash. Jews from all walks of life are working together and, although it is nearly impossible to see in the picture, the one painting is wearing the famous Walls R Us Painting T-Shirt.
As the saying goes, ‘Keep saying it and hopefully it will happen soon.’ We look forward to the day when the zecher l’churban will be obsolete and we will see the building of the Beit Hamikdash. LeShanah Haba B’Yerushalayim Habenuyah!