Pirkei Avot, commonly known by its English name Ethics of the Fathers, is a collection of ethical teachings and maxims of Rabbis from the Mishnaic period. Pirkei Avot appears in the tractate of Avot in the Talmud and is unique in the way that it is the only tractate in the Talmud that deals solely with ethical and moral issues and not legal ones.In Chapter 2, Verse 10 of Pirkei Avot, we learn of a discourse between Rabbi Yohanan and his five top students. Rabbi Yohanan asks the students what the best trait for a man to acquire is. One of the answers given was that of Rabbi Yossi, who replied that most important is a good neighbor. Maimonides takes a similar stand with his view on the Laws of De’ot (6:1), were he writes that it is human nature for one to act and think likes ones acquaintances that it is therefore of vital importance to associate oneself with righteous people.
From a Jewish perspective, when moving to a new home, it is indescribably important to ensure that the environment is one that is strong in Torah, that Jewish education is at a fine level and available locally, that kosher food is available, that there is a local mikvah and that the community is an active and supportive one. In the same way that one would have no interest in moving to a gorgeous house in the middle of the slums, so too one should not consider moving to a place that is spiritually the slums.
According to Jewish tradition, a change of location brings a change in luck and fortune. It is always appropriate to wish Jewish new home-owners a noticeable change in their luck (in Hebrew “Mazal”) due to their new home. Those moving house often want to know what us done in Judaism on occasion of moving house so we’ll provide some pointers.
First of all, when one establishes the home from the very beginning as one that has a Jewish identity, one makes the house a vessel for blessings. First and foremost, one should see to affixing Mezuzahs to the doorways of the home. One can find details on-line regarding how, when, why, where & what regarding affixing Mezuzahs.
In addition, there is an old Jewish custom of the first items being brought into a new home being bread and salt. The reason for this custom is unclear but it has been suggested that bread symbolizes, in being a staple of sustenance, prosperity and salt never decays and thereby symbolizes the permanence of the new home.
In addition to all your cartons that you’re bringing in to your home, make sure to bring some Jewish books and a charity box in too even before all the cartons are brought in. This is another great way of establishing the Jewish identity of the home where study and kindness will be a daily occurrence.
There is a belief that Tuesday is an ideal day for moving due to it being the only day during creation that G-d describes as “good” twice. According to Jewish mysticism, Mondays and Wednesdays are not such great days to make the move as on these days the Divine attribute of severity is particularly dominant.
There is a lovely custom whereby a group of young children will learn Torah in the house before the new owners officially move in. The study of Torah by these pure souls has a spiritually purifying effect.
Lastly, shortly after entering the house a Home Dedication party is held in which words of Torah are spoken and family and friends gather and bless the new home-owners.