Simanim 8:14-9 The Wearing of Tzitzit continued

  • Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Mishna Berura
Yeshivat Har Etzion

SHIUR #6:Siman 8:1 - 8:13

Pages 25 - 30


by Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon



Siman 8:  The Wearing of  Tzitzit (continued)



Taking off the tallit and putting it back on (se'if 14):


            The previous se'if discussed the wearing of two tallitot, and it was concluded that under certain circumstances one must recite a second berakha.  What if one put on his tallit with a berakha, then took it off and put the same tallit on again - must he repeat the berakha?  (Examples include showers, naps, etc.)


            Among the Rishonim there is no clear consensus.  The Shulchan Arukh rules that he does say another berakha; the Rema, that he does not, provided that he intended to put the tallit back on.  In practice, even Sepharadim follow the Rema (Yabia Omer vol. III, YD 17).


            There remain a number of open questions.


1) If he had no specific intention at the time he took it off:

            The Rema mentioned an additional criterion for not repeating the berakha: "And there are those who say that that this is the case only if he is wearing a tallit katan."  The Acharonim distinguish between three cases: (a) One who intended to put his tallit on again does not make the berakha, regardless of whether he is wearing a tallit katan; (b) one who intended not to put it back on does recite the berakha, even if he is wearing a tallit katan. The only applicable case for this Rema would be (c), one who had no specific plan in mind but had on a tallit katan the whole time is considered to have an uninterrupted "wearing" and thus does not make a second berakha, while if he had no tallit katan, he is obligated in a second berakha.  See M.B. 8:38 in which you'll find that there is practically no case of (c) and therefore the tallit katan is hardly ever the deciding factor.


2) If he changed location:

            We have already said that this is not a hefsek and it does not require a second berakha (M.B. 8:37).  (The debate between the Chayei Adam and the other Acharonim in the previous se'if relates only to a case of two different tallitot.)


3) If he paused in between for bathroom, shower, or nap:

            Going to the bathroom is not considered a hefsek and a second berakha is not required.  See M.B. 8:37 for why this is different from the case of tefillin, in which it is considered a hefsek.

            Showers are discussed in the Biur Halakha (s.v. Ve-yesh omrim she-ein mevarkhim) who remains in doubt.

            Naps, too, remain unresolved in M.B. 8:42, but a practical solution is offered.  (Night sleep is discussed in siman 16; in siman 24 another reason is suggested for not taking off the tzitzit during a nap.)


            The Biur Halakha offers two contradictory suggestions:

a) That one have in mind during his berakha that it should include the second wearing as well.  Then he need not repeat the berakha if he does take it off (s.v. Im Pashat, end).

b) That one should have in mind during the berakha that it should pertain only to the current wearing which lasts until he takes it off (s.v. Ve-yesh Omrim She-ein Mevarkhim, end).


            For a shower, the Biur Halakha suggests the second option, remaining in doubt regarding the first.  However, the Tzitz Eliezer (vol. XIII, 4) wrote that the popular practice is to refrain from repeating the berakha, both for a shower and for swimming in the sea.  His reasoning is that the average person making the berakha does intend it to be for the whole day's wearing (as per suggestion (a) above).  It is recommended, though, to make this intention conscious the first few times, so that when he has no specific intention we can assume that he meant it this way (Sha'arei Teshuva 8:15).  Accordingly, it appears that even one who did not follow the suggestion of the M.B. (to cover himself with the tzitzit) should not recite a berakha upon arising, particularly since we are lenient in cases of doubtful berakhot.  There is an even better solution: to put on a different pair of tzitzit, since everyone agrees that one must make a new berakha when changing his tzitzit.


            Concerning the length of time of this interruption, the M.B. in 8:37 states that only if he meant to re-don it immediately, and in fact did so immediately, is it not to be considered an interruption.  The Shulchan Arukh Ha-rav defines "immediately" as even over an hour.  We have not, however, devoted too much time to this issue since it does not bear great significance for the tallit katan (because he had the whole day in mind when he made the berakha, though to be sure the Biur Halakha himself doubts the efficacy of this, as mentioned above) and the tallit gadol is not usually removed for this length of time.


A tallit that fell (se'if 15):


            There are two distinct possibilities: that the whole tallit fell (this includes a case in which he caught it in his hand), and that only the majority of the tallit fell.


            The Shulchan Arukh rules that only if the whole tallit fell must he make another berakha.  The M.B., though, cites the ruling of the Taz and the Eliahu Rabba that a berakha is required even if only most of it fell.  In practice, we follow the general rule of leniency in berakhot and repeat the berakha only if the whole tallit fell (Arukh Ha-shulchan 8:22).


            According to the Od Yosef Chai, Sepharadim should follow this ruling of the Shulchan Arukh.  However, in Yabia Omer it is written that they should omit the berakha even if the whole tallit fell, since this latter opinion is found in Rabbeinu Yona and our aversion to unnecessary berakhot overrides even the opinion of Maran ha-Shulchan Arukh.


Sleeping in the tallit at night (se'if 16):


            The time period of the obligation of tzitzit will be discussed in siman 18.  For now we will suffice with a basic understanding of the issue.  According to the Rambam, night is not considered the time of tzitzit, even if one is wearing day clothing, while according to the Rosh, day clothing worn at night requires tzitzit.


            If he slept in his tzitzit the issue would seem to be dependent on whose side one takes in this dispute.  See M.B. 8:42 (though the Arukh Ha-shulchan in 8:23 believes that in this case even the Rosh would require a berakha).


            The M.B. maintains that if after sleeping with his tzitzit over night, he then removes them with the intention of not replacing them immediately, according to both the Rambam and the Rosh he would require a new berakha.  However, he does not advise this as a solution lekhatchila.


            What is the ruling of the Shulchan Arukh?  The M.B.?


Handling the tzitzit (se'if 16):


            This law, whose source can be found in Tosafot Menachot 36, comes up in a number of circumstances:

1) For one who sleeps in his tzitzit at night, according to the Shulchan Arukh, "It is good to touch them at the time of the berakha" in the morning.

2) One who put on his tzitzit before dawn should touch them when day breaks, according to the Rema.

3) One who put on his tzitzit before washing his hands in the morning, should, after washing, touch the tzitzit and say the berakha (se'if 10).


            See M.B. 8:43.  However, the Igrot Moshe wrote that the act of handling is merely a sign that the mitzva is being performed, and its omission does not render the mitzva invalid (and similarly in the Arukh Ha-shulchan 8:23, end).



Siman 9: The Actual Tzitzit



Se'if 1 discusses the clothing which must have tzitzit.


Wool vs. cotton tzitzit:


            The Torah commands, "And they will make for themselves tzitzit on the corners of their garments."  What type of material are these garments which must have tzitzit?


            The gemara in Menachot 39b teaches:


"The house of R. Yishmael taught, 'in a garment of wool or in a garment of linen' (mentioned in Vayikra 13:47), this shows that a 'garment' ('beged') refers only to a woolen or linen one."  And such is the opinion of R. Nachman.


            But the house of R. Yishmael also taught the opposite - that the seemingly superfluous "or" in the verse mentioned above comes to include all other materials as well.  And this is the opinion of Rava (though he derives it instead from Bemidbar 15:38 - "on the corner" - a corner made of any material).


            Rashi, Tosafot, and the Rosh all rule like Rava that all materials are biblically obligated in tzitzit.  The Rif and the Rambam, however, agree with R. Nachman that only wool and linen are biblically mandated; all other materials are rabbinic in origin.


            How does the Shulchan Arukh rule?  The Rema?  What practical difference arises from this debate (M.B. 9:3)?


            In practice, Sepharadim should follow the stringent opinion of the Shulchan Arukh, while Ashkenazim can rely on the Rema's leniency.  (There are, however, Ashkenazim who make a point of wearing woolen tzitzit.  See M.B. 9:5 and Igrot Moshe OC vol. II, 1, on the one hand, and Ma'aseh Rav and Shoneh Halakhot regarding the customs of the Gra and the Chazon Ish, respectively, on the other.)


Tzitzit of synthetic material:


            Many tzitzit-shirts are made of various synthetic materials.  According to the Shulchan Arukh, one clearly does not fulfill the biblical mitzva with such tzitzit (since only wool and linen qualify).  Would the Rema, who includes cotton within the biblical category, also permit synthetic materials?


            In Menachot 40a, we find, "A garment of leather whose corners are of material is exempt [from tzitzit].  What is the reason?  We require the main portion of it to be material."  The Levush (10:4) explains that only something woven is defined as a garment in order to be obligated in tzitzit; leather is therefore exempt.


            It follows that something which is a solid piece of synthetic material is exempt.  What of material which is synthetic and yet is woven?  R. Tzvi Pesach Frank writes in Har Tzvi (OC I, 9) that according to the Rema such a garment would be biblically obligated, while Igrot Moshe (OC vol. II, 1) deems it exempt because the fact that it is able to be constructed as one solid piece (without being woven) disqualifies it automatically.


            R. Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg, shlita, in Tzitz Eliezer (Vol. XII, 3) disagrees with the Igrot Moshe, saying that it is likely that leather alone is excluded by biblical decree, and in any case leather is different because it starts out as one piece, as opposed to synthetic materials which are formed as strings.  To be sure, he concludes by saying that although one can fulfill his obligation with such tzitzit, it is better not to make a berakha on them.  R. Binyamin Yehoshua Silber, shlita, on the other hand, writes in Az Nidberu that one may say a berakha not only on them but even on fishnet-type tzitzit (he considers this still to be a garment despite the holes).


            In practice, one who wears synthetic tzitzit has on whom to rely, although if he does not wear a tallit and makes a berakha on the tzitzit it is better to at least choose cotton ones.  In any case, it is best to purchase a non-synthetic beged for one's tzitzit.


            What about a garment of mixed natural and synthetic fibers?  See M.B. 9:2, in the middle (or Biur Halakha s.v. Ela, in the middle).


The type and color of the strings (se'ifim 2-6):


            In Menachot 39b (and Yevamot 4b) Rava states, "the corner (kanaf)" - this teaches that the tzitzit must be of the same material as the corner (of the garment).  Rava adds that tzitzit of wool or linen are good for any kind of garment.  This raises several issues in our siman:

1) Is it nevertheless preferable to restrict woolen strings to woolen garments?  See M.B. 9:6.

2) What of strings made of other materials?  See se'if 3.

3) What of strings that are assorted - some of wool or linen and some of the material of which the garment is made?  See se'if 4.

4) What of a tallit and strings of linen?  If he then adds tekhelet the result will be sha'atnez.  See se'if 6.

5) Must the color of the strings also match the garment?  This is the subject of debate among the Rishonim.  (In the army there are those who dye the whole thing dark for the sake of camouflage - is this proper?)  See se'if 5.  (In a time of need, as for example in the army, it appears that one may be lenient despite the position of the Rema, but in general it is better to leave the strings white.  If they were dyed, even a different color than the garment, the tzitzit remain kosher.)



(This shiur was translated by Pnina Baumgarten.)