Borrowing Furniture From the Synagogue

By Rabbi Chaim Chazzan

 

Is one permitted to borrow tables and chairs from a synagogue for an event being hosting at home?

 

A synagogue and Beis Medrash (a place dedicated for Torah study) have kedusha (holiness)[1], and therefore certain behaviors and activities are forbidden when in these holy places.

One may not, for example, act frivolously[2] or kiss a child[3], and a synagogue can only be entered for the sake of fulfilling a mitzvah. If one needs to call someone who is inside a synagogue, he should recite a possuk or learn something immediately upon entering, or at least wait a few moments (which is also a mitzvah) and then call him[4].

The furniture of a synagogue, such as the tables and chairs, also has kedusha which precludes their use for mundane purposes[5]. Nevertheless, for reasons that will be explained, one may indeed borrow tables and chairs from a synagogue for an event[6].

When asynagogue is being built, a tnai (condition) stating that certain behaviors which are usually prohibited in a synagogue should be permitted is generally made, and this suffices to permit these things to be done. Moreover, in some cases, even if a condition was not made explicitly, since such behaviors are common in a synagogue, we consider the condition as having been made implicitly. (The extent of what a tnai actually permits is complex and is subject to much debate among poskim[7]).

The same is concerning the furniture of the synagogue: since it is common practice to borrow tables and chairs from a synagogue for events, it is therefore as if a condition has been made at the outset to allow for this. (Obviously we can only consider a condition to have been made where the local practice is to borrow tables and chairs from a synagogue[8]).

Needless to say one may only borrow them with permission of the gabbai. Even one who pays membership towards the upkeep of the synagogue cannot borrow without permission of the gaboi’im, because although the entire community are like ‘partners’ with regards to communal property, an individual desiring to make use of public property nonetheless requires authorization from those entrusted with safeguarding the property on behalf of the community[9].

Reprinted with permission from  Lmaan Yishmeu – a project of Mercaz Anash. To see more articles visit Mercazanash.com


[1] מגילה כט ע”א

[2] שו”ע או”ח סי’ קנא ס”א

[3] רמ”א או”ח סי’ צח ס”א

[4] שו”ע או”ח סי’ קנא ס”א

[5] ראה שו”ע או”ח סי’ קנד ס”ח, ובערוה”ש שם סעי’ י-יב, וביאור הלכה סוף סי קנב

[6] ערוה”ש שם

[7] שו”ע שם סי’ קנא סי”א, וראה בכ”ז בספר משנת יוסף הלכות ביהכ”נ (ליברמן) פרק כז

[8] ספר צדקה ומשפט (בלוי) פרק יב הע’ פא

[9] שם

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