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Shabbat Parashat Noach | 5770

Hemdat HaDaf HaYomi: Expanding One's Home (60a)

Rav Ofer Livnat

Tishrei 30 – Cheshvan 6, Baba Batra 58-64

Expanding One's Home (60a)


It once was customary to live in a structure where a number of houses opened into one courtyard. The courtyard was in joint ownership between the different home owners, and had many uses. The question arose, may one home owner expand his home so that more people would be able to live in it, or can the neighbors claim that they don't want more people using the courtyard?

The Mishna (59b) states that, if one of the home owners bought a house attached to a neighboring courtyard, he may not open it to this courtyard. The Gemara (60a) explains that the neighbors can claim that he is increasing the number of people entering and exiting through the courtyard. The Gemara questions this from the continuation of the Mishna, which states that one may add another room or attic to his home, even though that will potentially add the number of people in the courtyard.  There is a disagreement amongst the Rishonim as to the meaning of the Gemara’s conclusion.  We will mention the main opinions:

According to Rashbam (d"h Umai), an extension to a house is prohibited, because it potentially adds more tenants. However, one may change the internal structure of the house, such as dividing a room into two, even though this too can bring additional tenants, since one has the right to add as many tenants as one wishes, in its current state.

According to Ramban (59b d"h matnitin), one may build and expand one's home and even attach another house to one's home, as long as the additional building does not have a separate entrance and is open only to one's home. The reasoning is that, if the additional building has a separate entrance, then one is likely to rent it out, which would add tenants. However, if it is open only to one's home, it is unlikely that one will rent it out.

The Tur (154) explains the opinion of the Rosh to be in between the Rashbam and the Ramban; one may expand the home by adding a room or an attic, but one may not attach an entire house. The seeming logic is that when one owns a house that is attached to a joint courtyard, it is understood and accepted that he might expand his home.  However, he does not have permission to add an entirely new home to open into the courtyard.

The Rishonim have a further disagreement regarding where one wants to add tenants without expanding the house. According to the Rambam (Shechenim 5, 9), the neighbors may prevent this as well. However, the Ra'avad (on the Rambam ibid) and many other Rishonim (like the Rashbam quoted above) disagree and state that, as long as one is not expanding the building, he is allowed to add as many tenants as he wishes. The Magid Mishne claims that, even according to the Rambam, if the tenants are being supported by the owner, then they are considered to be his family, and the neighbors cannot object to them.

Summary and Ruling:

The Shulchan Aruch (154, 1) rules like the Ramban, that one may expand one's home and even attach an adjoining house, as long as the addition does not have an independent entrance to the courtyard. The Ramma quotes the opinion of the Rosh, that another house may not be attached. The Shulchan Aruch (ibid 2) also rules like the Rambam, that the neighbors may object to additional tenants. However, the Ramma rules like the other Rishonim who disagree and claim that as long as one is not expanding the building, tenants may be added.        




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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
George Weinstein,


ben Yehudah Mayer

a lover of the Jewish Nation Torah and Land



R' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld

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