Simanim 2-3 Getting Dressed

  • Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Mishna Berura
Yeshivat Har Etzion

SHIUR #2: Simanim 2-3

Pages 11-15


by Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon





S.A. 2:4 - Putting On and Lacing Shoes



            The primary source is Shabbat 61a:


            As R. Yochanan said, "Like tefillin, like shoes - just as [when donning] tefillin [we begin] with the left, so too shoes [we begin] with the left."

            An objection was raised: "When one dons his shoes, he must put on his right and afterwards his left?!"

            Said R. Yosef, "Now that we've learned that this beraita said one thing, while R. Yochanan said otherwise, one can legitimately act according to either opinion."

            Said R. Nachman bar Yitzchak, "A God-fearing person would act in accordance with both opinions!  And who is [such a person]?  Mar the son of Rabana.  How did he act?  He put on his right [shoe] but did not tie it, then put on his left shoe and did tie it, then went back and tied his right shoe."

            Said R. Ashi, "I witnessed R. Kahana not being particular."


            This sugya presents a contradiction between R. Yochanan's statement and the beraita.  How does R. Yosef rule?  How does R. Nachman bar Yitzchak rule?  Read his opinion carefully: does he believe it is strictly obligatory or just a chumra (extra stringency)?  With which of these does R. Ashi side?


            Whose ruling is generally accepted as halakha in a situation of this sort?  Tosafot (Bava Metzia 48b "alma Rav Ashi ... ve-hu batra," found adjacent to R. Chananel) say of R. Ashi that he is "greater in wisdom and in stature and [has the added advantage of being] later," the implication being that we should rule according to him.  (See the Encyclopedia Talmudit vol. IX, p. 309, for more on disagreements between R. Ashi and R. Nachman bar Yitzchak.)  And in fact, R. Nachman bar Yitzchak's statement is omitted by all the poskim with the exception of Rabbeinu Yona and the Tur.


            One might further argue that R. Nachman bar Yitzchak's logic is difficult to understand, for if R. Yochanan said that the left shoe should be put on first, how does his solution help?  (The Beit Yosef explains that R. Yochanan was indeed referring to tying, for tefillin are tied on the left hand.)


            The Beit Yosef, in his introduction, wrote that he based his work on three major halakhists - the Rif, the Rambam, and the Rosh - ruling always with the majority among these.  The Darkhei Moshe (in his own introduction) noted that the Beit Yosef strayed occasionally from this golden rule and brought two examples.  Does our instance qualify as a third?


S.A. 2:6 - Wearing a Kippa



            The primary source is Kiddushin 31a:


"R. Huna would not go even four cubits with a bare head, saying, 'The divine presence is above my head.'"


            See also 29b "mishtabach ... ad de-nasavt" (3 lines), from which we can see that not everyone covered their heads - R. Huna's criticism of R. Himnuna was that he was unmarried, not that his head was bare!


            Reasons for wearing a kippa are as follows:


a) Modesty.  The Rambam in Hilkhot De'ot 5:6 writes: "Torah scholars must practice great modesty.  They must not demean themselves and they must not uncover their heads nor their bodies."

b) Fear of God.  The gemara in Shabbat 156b ("de-imai ... di-shemaya ...") relates that the mother of R. Nachman bar Yitzchak was told by stargazers that her son was destined to be a thief.  Her solution?  She had him cover his head in order that the fear of God be upon him.

c) Nowadays.  M.B. 2:11 "aval ... be-veito" (one line) - "and the Taz has written in siman 8 that in our day it is strictly forbidden to leave one's head uncovered, even at home."

            See the Taz 8:3, who explains that the reason is in order to avoid imitating Gentile customs.  For elaboration see Igrot Moshe, the first responsum in OC vol. 1; Yechaveh Da'at vol. IV, 1; Chatam Sofer CM 191.  In the Igrot Moshe it is explained that according to this reasoning, it is forbidden nowadays even to walk less than four amot with a bare head.


            Fur further study regarding a kippa with holes (a kippa seruga?), see Terumat Ha-deshen 10; Chatam Sofer vol. VI, 2.



Siman 3:  Bathroom Etiquette



N.B.  There are certain matters in which the reality reflected in the Shulchan Arukh appears to differ from that which we experience nowadays.  Be that as it may, the message imparted by this siman is, "One should conduct himself with modesty [even] in the bathroom" (se'if 2).  It is this guideline which should direct our behavior at all times in an honest and straightforward fashion.


            Regarding bathrooms, it must be noted that there are those who at various times and places (such as summer camp or the army) deem them unnecessary.  The Bi'ur Halakha, se'if 2, s.v. Yehei Tzanua, comes out strongly against this practice.


            Although the Shulchan Arukh (3:10) prohibits the use of the right hand in order to cleanse oneself, Tzitz Eliezer vol. VII 2 is lenient, at least when this would result in a more thorough cleaning.


(This shiur was translated by Pnina Ra'anan.)