The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit
Yeshivat Har Etzion
#20:Simanim 37 - 38
129 - 133
Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon
SIMAN 37: THE TIME OF WEARING
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE MITZVA
"Anyone who wears tefillin
is granted a long life, as it is written, 'Hashem being upon them, they will
live' (Yeshayahu 38:16) [i.e. he who bears upon himself the name of God - will
The Shimusha Rabba (cited in
the Tur 37) adds,
"And said Rava: Anyone who
puts on tefillin and wraps himself in tzitzit and recites keriyat shema and
prays - is guaranteed the world-to-come ...
"Rav Pappa says: I guarantee
him that all his sins are forgiven."
(What does Rava add to the
first statement? What does R. Pappa?
See the Prisha at the beginning of siman 37.)
The Rosh writes (Hilkhot Tefillin 28), "The Sages taught (Rosh Hashana
17) that, come the Day of Judgment, if one had been careful regarding the mitzva
of tefillin, then the side of merit prevails; for there is no greater positive
commandment in the Torah than the mitzva of tefillin, since the whole Torah was
compared to tefillin, as it says [with regard to tefillin], 'In order that God's
Torah be in your mouth' (Shemot 13:9)."
THE SEVERITY OF
"'The Jews who sin with
their bodies' - who are they?
Said Rav, 'A head (karkafta) who does not put on
This gemara may be explained in a number of different ways, and there are
various versions of it in the Rishonim.
The Ge'onim (cited in the Ittur, Tefillin 1:5) have the version "... who
has not put on tefillin ever," as do Rabbeinu Chananel, the Rif, the Rambam, and
The Smag (Positive Commandments 3) and the Rosh (Rosh Hashana 1:5) have
simply, "... who does not put on tefillin." The implication is that even if one puts
on tefillin sometimes, but not daily, he is considered one of the "the Jews who
sin with their bodies."
Rabbeinu Tam asserts that if one does not put on tefillin because he
fears that he will not be able to keep his body clean, he is not included in
The Yerei'im (399) has the most lenient interpretation of all: One who does not put on tefillin out of
wickedness - out of scorn for the mitzva - is considered a "karkafta," but if it
is because of laziness, then he is not (though of course he is acting
Chabad chasidim set up stands in the central bus station and similar
places to encourage passersby to put on tefillin. According to which of the above opinions
is there special significance to a one-time act of this
IS THE MITZVA CONTINUOUS OR
Does the obligation of tefillin in principle last all day, except that we
only wear them during morning prayers because of the requirement of a clean body
etc., or rather does the Torah require only one moment of wearing
A. Tosafot (Sukka 45b s.v. Echad) say:
"Sukka and lulav are not the
same regarding the berakha, for upon lulav one recites only one berakha a day,
while regarding sukka - each time one enters it in order to eat or drink or
sleep, even if it is ten times a day, he recites another berakha... And such is the case with tefillin:
their mitzva is to be upon the head and arm the whole day, but the essential
mitzva of lulav is only once a day..."
This view appears to be shared by the Levush, who writes, "The fact that
it says simply 'and you shall tie them,' implies a permanent
The Gra (cited in Keter Rosh) "voiced regret over his generation who
neglected the essence of the mitzva of tefillin, which lasts the whole day. Were it in his power, he would cause the
whole world to return glory to its proper place... and there is no suspicion of vanity
("yuhar" - showing off) [in this behavior]; would that all who see would follow
B. It appears from the Kesef Mishna (Hilkhot Yesodei Ha-Torah 5:1) that
when one has worn tefillin even for a moment he has fulfilled his
obligation. This is implicit, as
well, in the Tosefta Berakhot 6:17, "From when does one put them on? In the morning. If he did not put them on in the
morning, he may put them on the entire day." And so too in the Kaf Ha-chayim (37:8),
citing the Ari.
In practice, we do not wear tefillin the whole day. However, this discussion does bear
halakhic significance for us. See
M.B. 37:7 regarding the "men of deeds" - "anshei ma'aseh."
"A minor who knows how to
guard his tefillin - his father should buy him tefillin."
Rashi explains, "Who knows
how to guard the sanctity of the tefillin, that he will not bring them into the
This implies that he need not be thirteen but rather merely at the "age
of educatability" - chinukh.
Rav Moshe of Coucy (in the Semag) writes that the child must know how to
be "watchful of sanctity and purity, that he not sleep in them." From this, too, one can infer that the
age of chinukh is sufficient, though perhaps it is slightly higher than that of
The idea that the age of chinukh is sufficient is mentioned explicitly by
some Rishonim: the Rashba (Berakhot
20a), the Ra'ah (Pekudat Ha-levi'im there), the Rosh, and the
In contrast, the Ba'al Ha-ittur writes that the relevant age is thirteen
years and one day.
See the rulings of the Shulchan Arukh and the Rema. In light of the above-mentioned sources,
the ruling of the Rema is difficult to understand - see the Biur Halakha s.v.
De-hai katan davka. See M.B. 37:12
for the halakha in practice.
Nowadays it is
generally accepted to start one month before the bar-mitzva. This opinion is found in the Arukh
Ha-shulchan (37:4). (However, the
Arukh Ha-shulchan himself agrees with the simple interpretation of the Rema - at
the age of thirteen.) The Sha'arei
Shalom offers the explanation that this minhag is akin to the practice of
"inquiring and researching thirty days before the
There is a minhag brought in the Yalkut Gershuni (37) that an orphan
begins to wear tefillin a year before his bar-mitzva as a credit to his deceased
father and mother. Regarding this,
the Arukh Ha-shulchan (37:4) writes, "I do not know any reason for this minhag,
and it is not proper to do so." So
too writes the Maharshak (Responsa, Sta"m 30).
SIMAN 38: WHO IS OBLIGATED IN
PROHIBITION OF PASSING GAS (SE'IFIM 1-3):
which Israel did not choose to uphold upon pain of death during times of
persecution, such as tefillin, is still
weakly held by them; as R. Yanai
said, 'Tefillin require a body as clean as Elisha the winged one.' What is this? Said Abbaye, 'That one not pass gas in
them.' Said Rava, 'That one not
sleep in them.'"
From here we
learn the prohibition of passing gas while wearing tefillin. What is the level of this
According to the Sha'agat Aryeh (40), it is biblically proscribed. He learns this from the gemara in
Shabbat (22a) which derives from the verse, "and he shall spill its blood and
cover it with dirt" (Vayikra 17:13), that one may not do the covering with his
foot, so that mitzvot not be scorned in his eyes ("With that which he spilled it
he should cover it, that he should not cover it with his foot").
Another proof is brought by the Sha'agat Aryeh from Rashi's statement in
Sukka (26a) that the prohibition of sleeping in tefillin exists lest one pass
gas in them. Why did Rashi not say,
"lest one remove his attention from them," for that too is prohibited, and when
one sleeps this certainly will happen?
The answer is that the prohibition of removing one's attention is
rabbinic in origin, and thus it would have been a case of a rabbinic decree
being the reason for another rabbinic decree (which is not legitimate). For this reason Rashi chose to mention
the prohibition of passing gas, which is on the biblical level. This viewpoint of the Sha'agat Aryeh is
seconded by the Chayei Adam (68:2).
On the other hand, the Peri Megadim believes that the verse, "and he
shall spill its blood and cover it with dirt" is merely a support and not a true
source, and the prohibition of passing gas is rabbinic. This is the opinion of the Darkhei
Teshuva (YD 28:58) in the name of the Ran.
A nafka mina, (a practical difference whether this prohibition is
biblical or rabbinic) will manifest itself in a case of doubt. See the Shulchan Arukh 38:2 and M.B.
According to the Ben Ish Chai (in Od Yosef Chai, Chayei Sara 4),
flatulence without a smell is not prohibited. Moreover, the Eshel Avraham writes that
flatulence without a sound is not considered scornful treatment of a
mitzva. And the Minchat Yitzchak
(vol. VI, 13) sees fit to permit a situation where this consideration is joined
with another leniency (e.g., when the tefillin are not in their proper place, or
CAUTION REGARDING IMPROPER THOUGHTS (SE'IF 4):
Based on the previously mentioned gemara that "tefillin require a clean
body," the Shibbolei Ha-leket (p. 382) in the name of R. Menachem writes that
tefillin require a body which is clean of sin. This is found as well in the Me'iri
The Orchot Chayim states (Tefillin 13): "One who knows himself, that he will not
be able to guard himself from bad thoughts... is forbidden to put them
In contrast, the Sefer Ha-chinukh writes (mitzva 421), "... Every person,
be he impure or a sinner, is obligated in the mitzva of tefillin, as long as he
knows to be careful not to pass gas in them. And perhaps, out of a constancy in the
mitzva of tefillin, which are a great reminder to man of divine service, he will
repent his evil ways and purify himself from all his
With regard to flatulence we have seen that it can prevent one from
wearing tefillin. The status of
improper thoughts, though, is dependent on the dispute of the Rishonim mentioned
above. In practice, if one knows
that he will not be able to avoid them, should he really refrain from donning
tefillin? The Beit Yosef
"And it appears to me that they should not be exempted for this reason,
but rather we should compel them with words and pull their hearts toward the
fear of God in order that they free their hearts from vain talk which harms body and soul, and they will turn their hearts
to accept upon them the yoke of the kingdom of
How does the Shulchan Arukh rule?
Does the Rema agree with him?
It is fitting, while tefillin are upon us, that the words of the Rambam
be engraved on our hearts (Hilkhot Tefillin 4:25):
"The sanctity of tefillin is very great, for all the while a tefilla is
on one's head and one's arm, he is humble and Godfearing, and he is not
attracted to lightheartedness by idle conversation, and he does not think
improper thoughts, but rather turns his heart in the ways of truth and
On the day of his relative's death, the mourner is called an "onen"
("aninut" meaning sorrow, as in "ben oni" - what Rachel called Binyamin before
her death - Bereishit 35:18). The
Torah mandates that an onen may not eat of sacrifices or other sanctified
food. In addition, the Sages
exempted him from mitzvot, for two reasons: (1) due to respect for the dead, and (2)
because there is no one else to care for the dead (Yerushalmi Berakhot 3). The distinction between these two
reasons arises if there is someone else to care for the dead (in which case we
rule that regardless, the onen is exempt - Gesher Ha-chayim).
Aninut is in effect from the moment of death until the burial, ceasing
immediately after the burial (Shach 341:2). For tefillin, though, there is another
source which indicates exemption:
tefillin are called "pe'er" - splendor - as it says, "Place your splendor
upon you" (Yechezkel 24:17), and a mourner is referred to as "one whose strength
is laid in the dust" (Iyov 16:15); it is unfitting to put splendor in the place
of dust ("pe'er tachat efer").
According to this reason, the exemption from tefillin continues after the
burial as well, until the end of the day.
If the burial was postponed, then there is a consensus regarding the day
of death that the mourner does not put on tefillin. But the day of the burial is the subject
of a debate among Acharonim. The
Maharit Tzahalon writes that he is obligated to wear tefillin. However, most Acharonim believe that he
does not put on tefillin on this day as well, and so rule the Mishna Berura
(38:16), Kaf Ha-chayim (38:16), and Gesher Ha-chayim (vol. I, P. 175). The Chayei Adam (14:14) and the Yabi'a
Omer (vol. II, YD 27) rule that he should put them on without a
shiur was translated by Pnina Baumgarten.)