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Simanim 25: 11-13 Should One Put on The Tefillin shel Rosh before Winding the Arm Straps

  • Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Mishna Berura
Yeshivat Har Etzion

SHIUR #14: Siman 25: 11 - 13

Pages 67 - 70


by Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon





            According to the Rosh, one should first put on the box  (bayit) of the shel yad onto his arm and tighten it, then don the shel rosh, and only afterward go back and wind the strap seven times around his arm.


            However, the Kavanot Ha-ari maintains that the strap should be wound before the shel rosh is put on, asserting that this is not a hefsek (forbidden interruption) since the winding is also a part of the mitzva.


            See the ruling of the Shulchan Arukh, and in contrast the ruling of the Mishna Berura 25:38 who affirms the prevalent minhag.


            Nevertheless, the opinion of the Shulchan Arukh does have a practical ramification - see M.B. at the end of 25:38.


            While on the subject of hefsek, it is important to note that although one must strive to minimize the hefsek between the two parts of the tefillin as much as possible, he should nevertheless not remove the shel rosh from its bag (as a preparatory step) before donning the shel yad, and if it is already out of its bag he should not unwind its straps.  This is to prevent the necessity of "passing over a mitzva" (Shulchan Arukh and Rema se'if 11).




            The Agur (Hilkhot Tefillin citing the Zohar Bemidbar 120:2) and the Shla assert that one should put on the shel yad while sitting, as acknowledgement of the kingship of God, as it is written in Yeshayahu 6:1, "And I saw God sitting on a throne, high and exalted" (and hinted to by the verse in Shemot 17:16, "Because the hand is on God's throne," in other words, the shel yad should be put on while one is sitting on a chair).  The shel rosh, they say, should be donned while standing, in order to honor God.  (Regarding the berakha on the shel yad, the Ben Ish Chai in Vayera, among others, writes that it should be said sitting; the Magen Avraham in 25:20, that it should be said standing.)


            On the other hand, the Maharshal (responsum 98), the Rema, and others say that the whole procedure should be accomplished while standing, as a servant would stand before his master. 


            [The Mateh Moshe, 665, and the Halakhot Ketanot, vol. II, 215, bring as a mnemonic device the verse, "atzat Hashem hi takum" - "God's plan will last [lit. stand]" - pointing out that the letters in the word "atzat," ayin, tzadi, and taf, can stand for the three mitzvot: omer, tzitzit, and tefillin, which are each performed while standing.  The Gra questions this, noting that tefillin, even if we are accustomed to put them on while standing, are still not comparable in this respect to omer and tzitzit.  For omer we have a specific "limmud" or midrashic derivation:  the word "be-kamma" is said regarding the barley, and we learn from it "be-koma," i.e. perform the mitzva while standing.  Tzitzit, like omer, has the word "lachem," "to you," mentioned, so that it can be inferred by means of a "gezeira shava" that the same requirement of standing applies to tzitzit as well.  But tefillin has no such limmud!  And indeed, the Biur Ha-gra refers instead to "atzat" as the acronym of omer, tzitzit, and tekiyot (shofar blasts).]





Sukka 46a:


            "It was taught, 'Tefillin, each time that one puts them on, he says a berakha on them' - these are the words of Rebbe, and the Sages say, 'One does not say the berakha except for in the morning.'"


            The gemara there reflects some disagreement regarding whose opinion is accepted - Rebbe's or the Sages' - but in any case we rule like Rebbe (Rif, Rambam, Rosh, and Shulchan Arukh).


            What if one merely moved them, or took them off intending to put them on again immediately?  According to the Shulchan Arukh, he says another berakha, while according to the Rema, he does not.


            Here are some additional details:


            For those who follow the Shulchan Arukh - if the tefillin only moved slightly, even if they need to be repositioned, another berakha need not be said (M.B. 25:45).


            For those who follow the Rema, if the tefillin were taken off with the intention of replacing them immediately, and they indeed were replaced immediately, another berakha need not be said.  Any other instance calls for a berakha. 


            What is considered "immediately"?  The Shulchan Arukh Ha-rav (29) says it is two or three hours.         If they were taken off without any specific intention in mind, see the Biur Halakha s.v. Ve-hachi nahug (end).  And if they were taken off in order for the wearer to enter the bathroom, another berakha must certainly be recited since it is forbidden to enter the bathroom wirh tefillin on (while for a tallit, which theoretically may be worn in the bathroom, another berakha is not said).




Sukka 46a:


            "The Sages of the House of R. Ashi [acted as follows:] each time they touched them [their tefillin] they would recite a berakha."


            The Rishonim debate the meaning of this gemara.  The Rosh, Rabbeinu Yerucham (19:5), and the Ran explain that if the tefillin slip from their proper place, one must say another berakha over them.  In contrast, Rashi, Tosafot, and others say that since the touching of tefillin is itself a mitzva, one should say a berakha each time he touches them, regardless of whether they slipped.


            Both the Shulchan Arukh and the Rema rule in accordance with the Rosh et al.  Even the Rema, who believes that one who took off his tefillin does not repeat the berakha, rules in this case that he must say a berakha.  Why?  See M.B. 25:47.


            If they slipped  during the time of tefilla, Ashkenazim do not say another berakha.  For the reason, see M.B. 25:44. 





            The particulars of the removal of tefillin will be dealt with BE"H in siman 28.


            There are three minhagim on record regarding the time to take off tefillin: (1) see the Shulchan Arukh, (2) see the Rema, and (3) see M.B. 25:55 citing the Ari.


            Regarding taking them off during kaddish, see M.B. 25:56.  Regarding taking them off in the presence of a sefer Torah, see M.B. 25:58 citing the Peri Megadim.


            On Rosh Chodesh we take off our tefillin before musaf for one of two possible reasons:


(1) The Beit Yosef say that it is because in musaf we say "keter" in kedusha and it is not appropriate simultaneously to wear the "crown" of tefillin; or


(2) The Radbaz (responsa vol. IV, 80) and the Levush (423) explain that since musaf is in place of the musaf offering of the day, and since Rosh Chodesh is similar to Yom Tov (when tefillin are not worn), we refrain from wearing tefillin at least during the time which corresponds to the time of the sacrifice.


            One possible difference between these two would come to light in the case of one who does not say "keter" in kedusha.  However, see the Rema who writes that such a person too should nevertheless take off his tefillin before musaf (see also M.B. 25:62).


            If one started to pray musaf, forgetting to take off his tefillin, see M.B. 25:61 (although the Zohar in  Pinchas warned that one who prays musaf with his tefillin on is subject to a very great punishment).


            When should one take them off on Rosh Chodesh?  The Mishna Berura here (25:59) and in Hilkhot Rosh Chodesh (423:10) brings several minhagim: (1) After the kaddish which precedes musaf.  (2) Before musaf, in "u-va le-tzion go'el," right before "Yehi ratzon ... she-nishmor chukekha" (in order not to interrupt between kaddish and musaf).  (3) One should take the straps off his finger before "Yehi razon" and take the tefillin off after kaddish.


            It appears to me that most people follow option (1), but each individual should gauge his own dexterity in the removal of tefillin and make sure to have them off in time to begin musaf with the congregation.



(This shiur was translated by Pnina Baumgarten.)