Letter and Spirit

For the week ending 23 June 2018 / 10 Tammuz 5778

"Manhattan" Kitchen

by Rabbi Ze'ev Kraines
ArtscrollLibrary

Q: My kitchen is long and narrow; it’s what they call a “Manhattan Kitchen”. But I like it because I have all my things stored or hanging exactly where I can put my hands on them easily. Does it need a mezuzah?

A: The Talmud determines that a room smaller than four by four amot does not meet the minimal criteria of a dwelling suitable for human habitation, and thus is exempt from many halachic considerations, including mezuzah.

The room need not be square. Even if it is rectangular or even circular, as long as it is at least four amos in its length and four amot in its width, it is obligated in mezuzah.

If the kitchen is sixteen square amot in area, but one of its dimensions is less than four amot (e.g. it is two amot wide and eight amot long), you should still affix a mezuzah. However, you should then not make a beracha since it is not four by four amot in both length and width. The mezuzah should be placed on the right side, based on one who is going into the kitchen.

If you are talking about a real “Manhattan kitchen,” meaning that its total area is less than the minimal calculation of sixteen square amot, many authorities exempt it altogether from mezuzah obligation.

However, others point out that though the kitchen itself is exempt, its door deserves a mezuzah on its right side leaving the kitchen as it also serves as an entrance into the dining room. In deference to this opinion, it is common practice to affix a mezuzah on the right side of one going from the tiny kitchen (without a blessing).

  • Sources: Succah 3a; Chovas HaDar 4:7; Shulchan Aruch Y.D. 286:13; Shach 23; Agur B’ohalecha 19:6,7:21, 18;28;84; Cf. Shevet HaLevi 2:152; Mezuzos Beisecha 286:52; Chazon Ish Y.D. 168:3; Shevet HaLevi 2:152; Teshuvos V’Hanhagos 1:653

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