Illegal Lighting

Question

Meir meets his neighbor, who just finished building an
extension to his apartment on jointly owned property without
permission. He tells him that since he had no right to build on land which
is not his, he may not make a blessing on affixing the mezuzah to
the door of the new room. Furthermore, it would not be appropriate to
light the Chanukah menorah in the illegally built room. Is his assertion
correct?


Answer

Any person who builds on land which belongs to others
without their permission should be aware that it is forbidden for
him to live in this structure. Since he is in effect stealing from others,
we consider him as being under instruction to remove his illegal
structure. In Eretz Yisroel he transgresses the additional
prohibition of, “You shall not move back the border of your fellow-man’s
field, etc. in the land that Hashem your G-d, is giving you,” (Devorim
19:14). Accordingly, one may not make a blessing if one affixes a mezuzah
to the door of this building, since it is not considered as being a
lasting structure. The obligation to light the Chanukah menorah is in one’s
home. A building which is waiting to be demolished on account of its
illegal construction can not be called a home! Furthermore, even if the
actual extension was built with permission, but an illegal door or window
was added, no blessing can be recited on affixing a mezuzah to the
offending door or lighting a menorah in the unauthorized window.

When Rav Yitzchok Silberstein (Tuvcha Yabiu
No.41) discussed this issue with his distinguished brother-in-law, Rav
Chayim Kanievski, he brought a proof that any structure erected in
violation of the halochoh is deemed to be non-existent. At the end
of Tractate Arachin (34a), the gemoro discusses whether
houses within a walled Levite city can be sold permanently. A house in a
non-walled city has the same law as a field. It can only be sold until the
Yovel (the fiftieth year), when it reverts to its original owner.
However, a house in a walled city is deemed to have been sold permanently
if the original owner did not take advantage of his buy-back rights within
a year of sale. It is forbidden to build a wall around a Levite city,
since it acts as a city of refuge for the unintentional murderer. Walled
cities tend to attract a lot of trade. They are always crowded, making it
easy for the avenger of the murder victim to infiltrate unnoticed and
illegally kill the unintentional murderer. The gemoro comes to the
conclusion that houses in a walled Levite city do not have the law of
houses in a walled city. Since the wall is meant to be demolished, it is
considered as if it were non existent.

Rav Silberstein brought a different proof. The Shulchan
Oruch
(Orach Chayim 22:1) rules that one who buys a new tallis
(prayer shawl) and inserts tsitsis on the corners, makes the
blessing of shehecheyonu on the first occasion that he wears the tallis.
This is no different to buying any other new garment, when shehecheyonu
is also recited. The Mogen Avrohom asks that according to the Shulchan
Oruch‘s reasoning, the blessing should be made at the time of
purchase, as is the law when buying new clothes. He answers that shehecheyonu
is only made at the time of purchase when the item is ready for use.
However, if one bought cloth which is meant to be made into a suit, this
blessing is only recited on wearing the finished garment. Similarly, even
though one can physically wear a tallis without tsitis,
since it is halachically forbidden to do so, the garment is considered
unfinished. As far as the blessing of shehecheyonu is concerned,
the garment does not yet exist.

Once again, we see that whatever is not fit for use
according to the halochoh is deemed to be non-existent.