Affixing a Mezuzah to an Office Door
I just started my own business, which involves renting a small office in a large building. My wife dropped by to help with arranging and decorating the office, and she noted that there were no mezuzot on the doors, which I had not even noticed.
Do I need to put mezuzot up on the doors, or is that only necessary at home?
Halachic authorities debate if stores, offices, classrooms, war rooms, work shops, factories and the like, require a mezuzah. And, if a blessing should be said when it is attached or not.
The Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch both rule that a holiday succah during Succot, a cabin aboard a ship, and “stores in marketplaces” do not require a mezuzah. However, the poskim disagree regarding the definition of “stores in marketplaces.”
According to the Taz, this means stores where no one dwells at night, which makes them temporary dwellings.
According to the Yad Ketanah, however, this means only temporary booths, such as those used at fairs, whereas regular, permanently located stores require a mezuzah. This is because people dwell in them all day (just as students dwell in a beit midrash), and/or because the merchandise remains stored in them even at night (and “storehouses” require a mezuzah).
Furthermore, the Talmud states: “Regarding two craftsmen’s booths, one inside the other, the inner one is not considered a succah and requires a mezuzah, but the outer one is a succah and requires no mezuzah.” And, in his commentary on the above passage, Rashi explains that potters would build two booths, one within the other. The inner one required a mezuzah because they would dwell there as if in a home, while the outer one required no mezuzah because they used it only for merchandise and other crafts.
It would seem, then, that a building designated only for one’s work and livelihood does not require a mezuzah. This is also the Bach’s opinion.
However, there are Achronim who disagree and require a mezuzah on an office, even if it is only used for work and not for sleeping. For example, the Aruch HaShulchan rules that a “work shop” requires a mezuzah, whereas an artisan’s “booth” doesn’t because its structure is considered temporary. Apparently, he would rule that an office requires a mezuzah for the same reason. Similarly, according to Yalkut Yosef even if workers are present only during the day (and not at night), “factories” and “offices” require mezuzot.
In summary, regarding all the various categories of work places – be they factories, offices, stores, or artisan’s booths in which no one actually resides – some poskim exempt them from a mezuzah, and some don’t.
Then the question arises: If one does affix a mezuzah, should it be done without a blessing?
Yalkut Yosef says yes. But Chovas HaDar says no.
And then we have this from Teshuvos VeHanhagos:
“The poskim debate whether a store and office require a mezuzah because they are not lived in day and night and not called a dwelling, but it’s worthwhile to affix a mezuzah… Regarding a store or office in which no one sleeps at night, no blessing should be recited upon affixing a mezuzah… contrary to the custom today that when one opens an office, he invites the public for the affixing of the mezuzah and recites a blessing upon it. But if the office contains a door connecting it to a dwelling, it requires a mezuzah along with a blessing.”
In practice, it’s difficult to give a blanket response if offices require a mezuzahor not. Each situation needs to be analyzed separately, in light of the amount of time spent in a given office, if articles of merchandise are left there during the day and night, if you handle personal matters there which you would otherwise handle in your home, and if you also eat there.
Bottom line, I would advise that you affix a mezuzah in your office, but without reciting a blessing.
- L’iluy nishmas Yehudah ben Shmuel HaKohen Breslauer