Jewish Home

Question:  Why do you bring bread and salt to someone in a new home?

Answer: The custom may stem from a superstition against going to a new home empty-handed, let one inadvertently curse the house by not presenting it with a gift.  A house, and particularly a table, is our substitution for the Temple altar upon which sacrifices were made.  Today, everything we eat on the table represents our thankfulness to God for the bounty of this world.  Particularly, however, bread has always been the staple of our diet.  This is why the berakha of hamotzi can cover all foods eaten during the whole meal, while if one does not eat bread, one must say a bracha over each separate kind of food.  To symbolize the importance of bread, there were 12 breads placed in the Temple at all times.  In addition, all sacrifices in the Temple were salted.  This is why we sprinkle some salt on our bread before eating it.

So – bread (and by association, salt) is the most basic gift one could give to a new house.  Bread and salt represent God’s bounteous gifts of nourishment to us.  Bread and salt represent holiness, because of their association with Temple rituals.  Bread and salt represent our wish for the new home we are visiting to be a place embodying Jewish expression and a strong relationship with God.

Question:  I was wondering if there are any special blessings for the house or home … I want my home to be blessed so can you find any prayers for me?

Answer: Traditionally, a blessing is recited when mezuzot are affixed to a home.  The mezuzah represents our love for God and our commitment to observe God’s mitzvot, and reminds us of God’s presence in our home.

Before affixing a mezuzah, you may recite this special prayer, adapted from A Rabbi’s Manual, published by the Rabbinical Assembly, the organization of Conservative rabbis:

We are about to affix [a] Mezuzah[ot] to the doorpost[s] of this home, fulfilling the mitzvah of our Torah:

“You shall love Adonai your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might, and write these words upon the doorposts of your homes.”

May the doors of this home be open to those in need of help.  May its walls resound with words of Torah and wisdom, with happiness and joy.  May it be blessed with peace.

Our God and God of our ancestors, we are grateful for this moment; we ask Your blessing for all who enter this home.  May the words we affix to this doorpost be inscribed upon our heart.  May they be transcribed into our daily conduct.  Then will Your love be our sun and our shield, Your Torah a light to our path.  Amen.

Afterwards, recite the following two blessings and affix the mezuzah[ot]:

Barukh ata Adonai, Eloheinu melekh ha’olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu leek’boah mezuzah.

The Source of Blessing are you, Adonai our God, eternal Sovereign of the world, who has made us holy with commandments, and commanded us to affix a mezuzah.

Barukh ata Adonai, Eloheinu melekh haÍolam, shehechiyanu, v’kiyemanu, v’higi’anu laz’man hazeh.

The Source of Blessing are You, Adonai our God, Sovereign of the world, who has given us life, sustained us, and brought us to this day