Should a blessing be recited when building a fence around a roof?
It is a positive command for a person to make a fence on his roof as it says in the verse “And you shall make a fence for your roof.” Anyone who leaves his roof without a fence has nullified a positive command and has transgressed a negative command as the verse says “Do not spill blood in your home.”
Which roofs are obligated in having a fence? A fence is only obligated to be established to a roof which its roof space is commonly used, and contains a 4×4 Amos space [196 x 196 cm.]. [It is disputed if each side, both length and width must contain a four Amah space, or if 4 square Amos suffices.]
Is a blessing said upon doing an action to prevent danger? The general rule is that whenever one does something to remove danger a blessing is not recited.
- Saying a blessing-Should a blessing be recited when building a fence around a roof:
The general rule is that whenever one does something to remove danger, a blessing is not recited. Despite this, when a roof is obligated to have a fence or guardrail placed around it, some Poskim rule that a blessing is to be recited upon building the fence around one’s roof to prevent danger and fulfill the Mitzvah. Other Poskim, however, rule that a blessing is never to be recited upon putting up a fence around one’s roof. [Practically, the accepted practice is to say the blessing if the above conditions are fulfilled.]
In what circumstance is the blessing to be said: The blessing is only to be recited if the roof is truly obligated in a fence, such as that it has a space of more than 4×4 Amos [196 x 196 cm.] and is commonly used, as stated above, and will be ten Tefach high and the roof does not already contain a ten Tefach high fence or wall.
When upon erecting the fence is the blessing to be said: The blessing is to be said when the final part of the fence is erected.
The Nussach of the blessing: The Nussach of the blessing is “Baruch Ata Hashem Elokeinu Melech Haolam Asher Kidishanu Bemitzvosav Vetzivanu Laasos Meakeh.”
Shehechiyanu: Some Poskim rule the blessing of Shehechiyanu is to be recited upon performing a Mitzvah for its first time, and hence when a fence is being put up for the first time, the blessing of Shehechiyanu is to be recited. However, other Poskim argue that one never says the blessing of Shehechiyanu upon performing a new Mitzvah and therefore no blessing is to be said upon putting up a fence for the first time. Practically, the blessing of Shehechiyanu is not to be recited.
Q&A on blessing
Is the blessing to be said even if a worker installs the fence?
The blessing is to be said by the owner of the home, even if it is installed by a worker, including a gentile. In such a case, one is to explicitly appoint the worker as one’s emissary to fulfill the Mitzvah of building the fence. However, this only applies if the worker is paid by the day or hour. If, however, he is paid for the job, then if he is a Jew, the Jewish worker is to say the blessing [of Al Asiyas Meakeh], and if he is a gentile, a blessing is not to be recited.
 Devarim 28:8
 Admur Shemiras Guf Vinefesh Halacha 1; Michaber 427:1; Rambam Rotzeiach 11:1; Sifri Ki Seitzei 229
 Devarim 22:8
 Admur Shemiras Guf Vinefesh Halacha 1; Michaber 427:6; Rambam Rotzeiach 11:3; Sifri Ki Seitzei 229
 Admur Shemiras Guf Vinefesh Halacha 1; Smeh 427:2 and 5
 Admur ibid; Smeh 427:2 and 5
 Admur ibid; Michaber 427:2; Sukkah 3a
 So is debated in regards to Mezuzah [See Michaber Y.D.D 286:13 and Shach 286:23] and the same law follows regarding Meakah. [Minchas Chinuch 546:6; See Aruch Hashulchan C.M. 427:1; Maharsham 2:265]
 Admur 181:2; Rambam Brachos 11:4; M”A 4:13; Peri Megadim 4 A”A 13; Elya Raba 4:8
 See Pischeiy Teshuvah 427:1; Aruch Hashulchan C.M. 427:10; Veasisa Meakah 1:3; Imreiy Yaakov 10:1; Likkutei Sichos Vol. 2 Parshas Ki Seitzei; Shemiras Hanefesh Kehilchasa Chapter 1:4
 Admur 181:2; Rambam Brachos 11:4; M”A 4:13; Peri Megadim 4 A”A 13; Elya Raba 4:8; Likkutei Sichos Vol. 2 Parshas Ki Seitzei
 Rambam Brachos 11:8, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah ibid; Bahag Mezuzah 26; Sheilasos Rav Achaiy Parshas Eikev 145; Semag 27; Or Zarua 1:140; Siddur Rasag p. 101; Baal Haittur Tzitzis 3:2; Tamim Deim 179 in name of Halachos Pesukos; Kneses Hagedola O.C. 585; C.M. 427; Chayeh Adam 15:24; Pischeiy Teshuvah 427:1; Machaneh Efraim Shluchim 11; Rav Akiva Eiger C.M. 427; Chasam Sofer O.C. 54; Sefer Haprdes 9; Sdei Chemed Asifas Dinim Brachos 16 that so is implied from majority of Poskim; Pnei Yitzchak Brachos 182; Sdei Haaretz 3 C.M.; Rav Poalim 2:36 that so is the custom in Bagdad; Minchas Yitzchak 6:112; Imrei Yaakov 10:1; Mentioned in Likkutei Sichos Ki Seitzei 2 p. 89 and Vol 9 footnote 28 and Vol. 19 Ki Seitzei 2; Igros Kodesh
Opinion of Tur, Michaber and Admur: The Tur completely omitted chapter 427 of Choshen Mishpat which deals with these Halachos. The Michaber, however, brings this chapter and writes down the laws word for word from the Rambam, as did later on the Alter Rebbe in Hilchos Shemiras Guf Vinefesh. However, neither the Michaber nor Admur mention that a blessing is to be said.
 The reason: The reason that a blessing is said upon building a fence to prevent danger, despite the ruling that a blessing is never made over an action done to prevent danger, is because the Mitzvah of making a fence is in addition to the Mitzvah of preventing blood from spilling in one’s home, and hence it deserves its own blessing. The command to make a fence is in addition to the command to remove danger from one’s home, as one can remove the danger through other ways such as by elevating the ground so the roof is not 10 Tefach high, or by making the roof be in a slanted form of which is not obligated in a fence. Thus, from the fact that nevertheless the command is to specifically make a fence we see that the fence is additional aspect to that of the danger, and in fact its reason has nothing to do with danger, and rather the aspect of danger is commanded in the negative command of “do not spill blood in your house”. A proof to this differentiation is that the Rambam rules that a Mitzvah and its reasoning are never counted as two different Mitzvos, and thus from the fact that both avoiding danger and making fence are counted as two different Mitzvos proves that the reasoning behind making a fence is not because of danger. [Rebbe Likkutei Sichos Ki Seitzei 2 p. 89 and Vol 9 footnote 28 and Vol. 19 footnote 48 ; See Minchas Chinuch 546:2]
 Rokeiach 366; Implication of Michaber and Admur who omit the blessing; Aruch Hashulchan C.M. 427:3 that so is evident from some Rishonim and 427:10 in name of Tamim Deim 179 in name of Poskim; Devar Avraham 1:37-23; Imreiy Yaakov 10:1 footnote 1
 The reason: As even gentiles were commanded in this Mitzvah, and a blessing is only recited over a Mitzvah that Jews alone were commanded in. [Rokeiach ibid]
 Imreiy Yaakov 10:1 and footnote 1
 Chasam Sofer O.C. 54; See Sdei Haaretz 3:20; Imrei Yaakov Likkutim 10:4
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that the blessing is to be said at the beginning, just as is done regarding Biur Chametz. [Baal Haittur Tzitzis 3:2; See Darkei Teshuvah Y.D. 28:10]
 Rambam ibid; Nishmas Adam 15:3; Imreiy Yaakov 10:1
 Rambam Brachos 11:9; Rokeiach 371 in name of Rivak Mishepira; Rama Y.D. 28:2 regarding Kisuiy Hadam; Taz 22:3; Olas Tamid 22:1; Chasam Sofer 55; Tevuos Shur 28, brought in P”M Y.D. 28 S.D. 5; Opinion in M”B 22:1 regarding Tzitzis; Biur Halacha 22:1 “Kanah” in name of Gr”a
 Rambam Brachos 11:9
 Shach Y.D. 28:5; Tosafus Sukkos 46a; Ran Chulin 88; Rashba 126; Peri Chadash 28; Tzevi Latzadik 28; M”A 22:1; Mamar Mordechai 22:1; Machazik Bracha 22:2 that so is opinion of Michaber 22:1 and that so is the custom not to recite Shehechiyanu on Tefillin; Chayeh Adam 62:10; Nishmas Adam 15:3; M”B 22:2; Kaf HaChaim 21:2 in name of many Poskim; Imrei Yaakov 10:1 and footnote 2; Maharik Shoresh 128 regarding wedding; So rule regarding Tzitzis: Michaber 22:1; Admur 22:1; Baal Haittur; Mahariy Abuhav, brought in Biur Halacha ibid
 Such as when wearing Tefillin for the first time, or performing the Mitzvah of Kisuiy Hadam for the first time.
 Nishmas Adam 15:3, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah 427:1; Aruch Hashulchan C.M. 427:3
The reason: As the sages only instituted to recite the blessing of Shehechiyanu by a Mitzvah that contains joy. [Shach ibid in name of Tosafus ibid] Alternatively, the reason is because it does not come from time to time. [Shach ibid in name of Ran ibid]
 See Imreiy Yaakov Likkutim 10:2
 Machaneh Efraim Shluchim 11, brought in Pischeiy Teshuvah ibid and referenced to in Rav Akiva Eiger 427
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that the blessing may not be recited if the fence is erected by a gentile, and that furthermore, it is considered that he did not fulfill the Mitzvah, as a gentile cannot be appointed the Shliach of a Jew to do the Mitzvah. [Minchas Chinuch 546:3; Chikreiy Lev Y.D. 9; Sdei Chemed 6:156 in name of Maharit Algazi; See Imrei Yaakov Likkutim 10:3]
 Minchas Chinuch 547; Imreiy Yaakov 10:1
 Implication of Machaneh Efraim; Kneses Hagedola 585; Pischeiy Teshuvah ibid; Imrei Yaakov Likkutim 10:2
 Kneses Hagedola 585; Pischeiy Teshuvah ibid
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that the blessing is to always be recited by the owner even if the fence is erected by a contracted gentile, and certainly if it is erected by a contracted Jew. [Daas Kedoshim Y.D. 289:2; Aruch Hashulchan C.M. 427:3] Other Poskim rule that a blessing is never to be said when it is built by a contractor who is being paid for the job, even if he Jewish. [Implication of Machaneh Efraim ibid; Imrei Yaakov Likkutim 10:2]
 Rambam Brachos 11:13; Rav Akiva Eiger C.M. 427:1; Imrei Yaakov 10:1
 Kneses Hagedola 585; Pischeiy Teshuvah ibid
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that the blessing is to always be recited by the owner even if the fence is erected by a contracted gentile. [Daas Kedoshim Y.D. 289:2; Aruch Hashulchan C.M. 427:3]