Night is not a Time for Tzitzit

  • Harav Yehuda Amital

 

 TOPICS IN HALAKHA

 

NIGHT IS NOT THE TIME FOR TZITZIT[1]

 

By HaRav Yehuda Amital zt"l

 

 

I

 

            The Shulchan Arukh writes (Orach Chayyim 18:1):

 

Night is not the time for tzitzit, for it is excluded by "That you may look upon it" (Bemidbar 15:39). According to the Rambam, whatever a person wears at night is exempt, even if it is designated for the day, and what he wears during the day is obligated, even if it is designated for the night. And according to the Rosh, a garment designated for the night is exempt even if he wears it during the day, and a garment designated for the day and for the night is obligated even if he wears it at night.

 

            That which the Shulchan Arukh writes in the name of the Rambam that even a garment that is designated for the day is exempt when worn at night is based on the Rambam in Hilkhot Tzitzit (3:7):

 

In a linen garment, the blue thread is not inserted, but only white fringes of linen thread. This is not because the precept concerning tzitzit is superseded by the prohibition of a mixture of wool and linen. But it is a precautionary regulation of the Sages who had in mind that such a garment might be worn at night when there is no obligation to have tzitzit on the garments, and so a prohibition would be violated at a time when there was no (overriding) mitzva in force, since the duty of having tzitzit is incumbent by day and not at night, as it is said: "That you may look upon it" (Bemidbar 15:39) which means at a time when it can be seen. A blind man is obligated to have tzitzit in his garments; for, although he does not see the fringe, others see them.

 

            The Kesef Mishneh writes that the fact that the Rambam writes that the precautionary regulation was instituted lest a person come to wear the garment at night, and not lest he wear a garment designated for nighttime attire, proves that at night, even a garment designated for daytime attire is exempt from tzitzit. Nowhere does the Rambam distinguish between a garment designated for the day and one designated for the night, rather, he distinguishes between the day and the night themselves. It should be noted that what the Shulchan Arukh writes in the name of the Rambam, that whatever a person wears during the day is obligated in tzitzit even if the garment is designated for nighttime attire, is not stated explicitly by the Rambam. Rather, given that the Rambam does not mention an exemption regarding nighttime attire, the implication is that the determining factor is the time at which one actually wears the garments rather than the time of day for which they are designated.

 

Based on this, the Rambam explains that the decree cited in Menachot (40a-b), forbidding putting tzitzit on a linen garment, which, according to Rabbi Zeira, is a precautionary regulation instituted lest one put [wool] tzitzit on a night garment.  Rashi (ad loc., s.v. Rabbi Zeira amar) explains Rabbi Zeira’s position similarly:

 

A precautionary regulation because of a night garment, lest he come to cover himself with it at night, when it is exempt from tzitzit, as it is stated: "That you shall see it, and remember" – to the exclusion of a night garment. And it would turn out that he is deriving benefit from kil'ayim [a prohibited garment of wool and linen] while not performing a mitzva.

 

            That is to say, the obligation of tzitzit depends upon the time that the person is wearing the garment, and not upon the garment whether it is a day garment or a night garment.[2]

 

            The Rosh, however, in Hilkhot Tzitzit (no. 1) cites the position of Rabbeinu Tam who maintains that the obligation of tzitzit does not depend upon whether it is actually worn during the day or the night, but rather upon whether the garment is considered a day garment or a night garment:

 

Rabbeinu Tam would say that that which is stated here, "to the exclusion of a night garment" – this refers to a garment designated for the night, but [regarding] a garment designated for the day, there is no problem of kil'ayim (even if he wears it at night).

 

            It should be noted that he adduces proof from the Gemara in Menachot 40b, writing:

 

Accordingly it seems that kil'ayim in tzitzit is permitted in a man's cloak, both for a man and for a woman, both during the day and at night. But nevertheless it is regarded as a time-bound mitzva, because a night garment is exempt.

 

That which the Rosh writes that "it is regarded as a time-bound mitzva, because a night garment is exempt," comes to resolve a difficulty in understanding the obligation of tzitzit as a time-bound mitzva. The simple definition of "time-bound" is that found in the words of the Rambam (Hilkhot Avoda Zara 12:3):

 

Women are exempt from all positive commandments which apply from time to time and are not constant obligations.

 

            And in his Commentary to the Mishna (Kiddushin 1:7), the Rambam writes as follows:

 

A time-bound mitzva is one regarding which the obligation to perform it is at a particular time, and outside that time there is no obligation, e.g., sukka, lulav, shofar, tefilin, and tzitzit, for their obligation applies during the day, and not at night, and the same is true for all that are similar to these.

 

            This definition accords with the Rambam's position in Hilkhot Tzitzit, for the obligation does not depend upon the garment whether it is designated for the day or for night, but rather upon the time of wearing. Any garment that a person wears during the day is obligated in tzitzit and any garment that he wears at night is exempt. But if we apply the Rambam's definition to the view of Rabbeinu Tam, that a garment designated for the day is obligated in tzitzit even when worn at night and a garment designated for the night is exempt from tzitzit even when worn during the day, the precept of tzitzit is not a time-bound mitzva. This issue is also taken up by Tosafot in Kiddushin (34a, s.v. u-tefillin):

 

It may be asked: How is tzitzit considered a time-bound mitzva according to the view (Menachot 41a) that the requirement of tzitzit applies to the garment itself, since even “garments in a chest” require tzitzit, and there is thus no time dependence, for they are obligated both during the day and at night? And even according to the view (ibid.) that the requirement of tzitzit is a personal obligation upon the person wearing the garment, there is a difficulty, for just as a night garment is exempt when worn during the day, so too a day garment is obligated when worn at night, for the Yerushalmi says as follows: "A day garment worn at night is obligated in tzitzit." If so, how is this considered a time-bound mitzva, since the obligation applies both during the day and at night? The Ri proposes that since the obligation is based on the fact that the garment is worn during the day, it should be considered time-bound, for the obligation is related to the time at which it is worn.

 

            If so, we have here a very novel definition of “time-bound.”  “Time-bound” does not mean that the obligation is limited in time, and that when the time has passed there is no longer any obligation, but rather that time is a factor in the obligation – that is to say, the time that the garment is worn causes the garment to be obligated if it is a day garment, or to be exempt if it is a night garment.

 

            This principle needs to be analyzed in light of the Mishna in Berakhot (13a) that discusses the order of the recitation of the three paragraphs of the Shema:

 

Why was the section of "Shema" [the first paragraph of the Shema, Devarim 6:4-9] placed before that of "Ve-haya in shamoa" [the second paragraph of the Shema, Devarim 11:13-21]? So that one should first accept upon himself the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven and then take upon himself the yoke of the commandments. Why does the section of " Ve-haya in shamoa" precede that of "Va’yomer" [the third paragraph of the Shema, Bemidbar 15:37-41]? Because [the principle discussed in] "Ve-haya in shamoa" is applicable both to the day and to the night, whereas [the principle discussed in] "Va-yomer" is applicable only to the day.

 

            Regadring this mishna, the Tosafot write (14b, s.v. vayomer):

 

"Va-yomer" is applicable only to the day – This implies support for the view of Rabbi Shimon, who said in chapter Ha-Tekhelet that tzitzit is a time-bound mitzva. And it is also stated in Kiddushin that tzitzit is a time-bound mitzva. And if you should ask: If so, according to the view that tzitzit is an obligation that applies to the garment, and even if it is resting in a chest it is obligated in tzitzit, how is time-bound? It may be suggested that if it is a garment designated for the night, it is exempt. And thus we find in the Yerushalmi in Kiddushin: "Rabbi Shimon said to them: Do you not agree with me that tzitzit is a time-bound mitzva, for surely a garment designated for the night is exempt from tzitzit. Rabbi Ila said: The reason of the Sages is that if it was designated for both the day and the night it is obligated in tzitzit."

 

            It should be noted that the Tosafot in Berakhot raised the question why tzitzit is regarded as a time-bound mitzva only according to the view that tzitzit is an obligation that applies to the garment, that one must put tzitzit on it even if it is not being worn. But in Kiddushin the Tosafot ask this question even according to the view that tzitzit is an obligation upon the person, for surely in the case of a day garment, he is obligated both during the day and at night. Thus the Tosafot in Berakhot align with the view of the Rambam, that the obligation applies during the day and that at night one is exempt, understanding the regulation of a night garment stemming from the possibility of wearing a night garment during the day. But the Tosafot in Kiddushin agree with Rabbeinu Tam, that a day garment is obligated in tzitzit even when worn at night, and therefore they asked, even according to the view that tzitzit is an obligation upon the person, why is it a time-bound mitzva?

 

II

 

            Regarding the suggestion that according to the view that the obligation of tzitzit applies to the garment, the mitzva has no time regulation, which Tosafot take for granted in their question, in my opinion this assumption itself requires examination. For the Gemara in Menachot (41a) implies that even on the view that the obligation of tzitzit applies to the garment, the primary mitzva is fulfilled at the time when the person wears the garment. On this view, the Torah expanded the obligation to the garment, even before it is worn, but it is intended to be worn. This is explicated by Rashi, who writes as follows:

 

Garments in a chest – A garment that is fit for tzitzit, even if it is folded up and resting in a chest, is obligated in tzitzit. Since it is intended to be used as a covering, [the verse regarding tzitzit] "with which you cover yourself" (Devarim  22:12) is applied to it.

 

            It is clear then that if the person would only wear the garment at a time at which it would be exempt from tzitzit, e.g., at night, there is no obligation to put tzitzit on such a garment. It would seem that this problem is addressed in Rabbi Akiva Eiger's question on Tosafot, where he writes as follows:

 

Tosafot, s.v. va-yomer… I do not understand, for how does this depend on whether it is obligation that applies to the person or [even when it is in] a chest? Just as we say [that if it is] an obligation that applies to the person, it is a time-bound mitzva, i.e., even though even during the day there is no obligation to wear a four-cornered garment, but rather if one wears a four-cornered garment, he is bound by a mitzva to put tzitzit on it, but nevertheless we say that if he wears it at night, there is no obligation upon him to attach tzitzit – so too, according to the view that there is an obligation [even when it is in] a chest, that if he has a four-cornered garment, he must make tzitzit for it, this is only during the day, but at night he may leave his garment in the chest without tzitzit, and it is regarded as time-bound.[3]

 

            In order to mitiage the difficulty raised by Rabbi Akiva Eiger, it may be suggested that this ruling that garments resting in a chest are obligated in tzitzit is a novelty of Shmuel's position (in the Gemara in Menachot ibid.). That is to say, if not for Shmuel’s statement, we would have said that the notion that the obligation of tzitzit applies to the garment is relevant only to a case where someone is wearing several four-cornered garments, teaching that each garment is obligated in tzitzit. This stands in contrast to the view that tzitzit is an obligation that applies to the person, according to which one set of tzitzit would suffice for the fulfillment of the mitzva regardless of how many garments the person is wearing, as is explained in the Gemara (there). But according to Shmuel the idea of an obligation attaching to the garment leads to a new obligation applying to garments resting in a chest, and no source is brought in the Gemara for this. This leads to Rashi’s explanation, that this notion is derived from the verse, "with which you shall cover yourself (tekhasseh)."  Since this phrase formulated in the future tense, it apparently refers to that with which you shall cover yourself in the future, for if it referred only to what you are wearing the verse could have stated, "with which you cover yourself (mitkasseh)." Thus, the verse teaches that one is obligated to put tzitzit on garments that a person plans to wear but has not yet worn. According to this, even garments in a chest at night, which is a time that is exempt from the mitzva of tzitzit, are obligated in tzitzit, because the person will wear them in the morning. A proof may be brought from the law governing shrouds, for the states in Menachot (ibid.):

 

Shmuel, however, admits that where an old man made it for his shroud it is exempt. What is the reason? For the Torah says: "With which you cover yourself," and this is not intended for [ordinary] covering.

 

            The implication is that were it not for the fact that it is not intended for ordinary covering, it would be obligated in tzitzit even though it is not meant to be worn now, but only after the person's death. Accordingly, even a garment resting in a chest at night is obligated in tzitzit, because it is intended to be worn during the day.

 

            Based on what was said above, we can explain the continuation of the Tosafot in Berakhot cited above:

 

It may be suggested that if it is a garment designated for the night, it is exempt. And thus we find in the Yerushalmi in Kiddushin: "Rabbi Shimon said to them: Do you not agree with me that tzitzit is a time-bound mitzva, for surely a garment designated for the night is exempt from tzitzit. Rabbi Ila said: The reason of the Sages is that if it was designated for the day and for the night it is obligated in tzitzit."

 

            This is difficult, for even if according to the view that the obligation of tzitzit applies to the garment, the obligation does not depends upon whether it is actually worn during the day or the night (and the Tosafot in Berakhot are referring to this position), but whether it is a day garment or a night garment. Since a day garment is always obligated, even at night, and a night garment is exempt, even during the day, as explained by Tosafot (Menachot 40b, s.v. mi-shum), it is not a time-bound mitzva. And the Tosafot here disagree with the Tosafot in Kiddushin, the latter claiming, like Rabbenu Tam, that "the obligation is based on the fact that the garment is worn during the day." Here in Berakhot it does not sound as if they retracted their assumption in the question that if there is an obligation both during the day and at night, it is not a time-bound mitzva. What then do the Tosafot mean when they write in their answer that if it was a garment designated for the night it is exempt, and how does the mitzva of tzitzit become a time-bound mitzva?

 

            It may be proposed, according to what was said above, that the basis for the obligation of a garment resting in a chest is the verse, "with which you shall cover yourself," which imposes an obligation on a garment which is intended to be worn, and thus a night garment which is not intended to be worn during a time of obligation is exempt from tzitzit even when in the chest, and a day garment which is intended to be worn during the day is obligated even at night. And indeed, for this reason it is not a time-bound mitzva. It therefore seems that the exemption of a night garment in a chest is only when the garment is not being worn, but if a person wears that night garment during the day, it stands to reason that it is obligated in tzitzit, based on the fact that it is actually being worn, and that obligation applies to the person. According to this, the exemption of a night garment only applies when the garment is not being worn, but when it is worn the person is obligated to put tzitzit on his garment. On the other hand, regarding a day garment, this issue is of no practical consequence, because even at night the garment is obligated, since it is intended to be worn at a time of obligation. This is what the Tosafot mean when they say "that if it is a garment designated for the night, it is exempt": If a person wears a night garment at night, it is exempt, but if he wears it during the day, it is obligated, even according to the view that the obligation applies to the garment, because someone who wears a night garment during the day is subject to the personal obligation upon one who wears a four-cornered garment during the day.

 

            All this may be said according to the Tosafot in Berakhot, who do not mention an exemption for a night garment worn during the day, and maintain that on the view that the obligation applies to the person, the obligation applies only during the day regardless of the garment. But the Tosafot in Kiddushin write that a night garment is exempt even when it is worn during the day. Thus it is clearly stated that a night garment is exempt not only when it is “in a chest,” but even when it is worn, and this led them to develop a novel understanding of the definition of a time-bound mitzva.

 

            Based on this principle, we can also understand the words of Rabbi Ila in the Yerushalmi cited by the Tosafot, which, at first glance, are very difficult. This is what the Tosafot say, as cited above:

 

It may be suggested that if it is a garment designated for the night, it is exempt. And thus we find in the Yerushalmi in Kiddushin: Rabbi Shimon said to them: Do you not agree with me that tzitzit is a time-bound mitzva, for surely a garment designated for the night is exempt from tzitzit. Rabbi Ila said: The reason of the Sages is that if it was designated for both the day and the night it is obligated in tzitzit.

 

            At first glance, both Rabbi Ila’s statement, and how it counters Rabbi Shimon's argument, are unclear.[4] It may be suggested that Rabbi Shimon's argument was that if a person wears a night garment during the day, that garment is obligated in tzitzit during the day, but exempt at night. Regarding this the Sages say, according to Rabbi Ila, that if in fact he wears the night garment during the day, the garment becomes “A garment designated for the day and for the night.” As such, there can be no case in which a person is obligated to put tzitzit on a given garment during the day, but exempt fro putting tzitzit on that same garment at night. Therefore, the Yerushalmi states that while a night garment is exempt from tzitzit even according to the Sages, nevertheless tzitzit is not a time-bound mitzva.

 

            Let us add to the explanation: It is clear from the Yerushalmi that even according to the Sages a night garment is exempt, unlike the Bavli, which maintains that a night garment is obligated in tzitzit, taking the words "that you may look upon it" as a source for a different law (Menachot 43b). the question could be raised, why do the Tosafot explain the Yerushalmi according to the view that tzitzit is an obligation that applies to the garment – after all, the Yerushalmi might maintain that tzitzit is an obligation attaching to the person! The answer is that since the Yerushalmi links the exemption from tzitzit to the fact that the garment is considered a night garment, while Tosafot themselves assume that the determining factor is the time of wearing the garment, based on the view that it is a personal obligation. Therefore, the Tosafot understood that the Yerushalmi is based on the view that tzitzit is an obligation that applies to the garment. After all, the obligation of tzitzit on a garment not being worn only applies to a day garment and not to a night garment. That is to say, only a garment that is intended to be worn during the day is obligated when it is not being worn, whereas a garment that is intended to be worn at night is exempt when it is not being worn. This is because the source of the obligation to put tzitzit upon a garment that is intended to be worn is, as stated earlier, the verse "with which you shall cover yourself," i.e., in the future. According to our explanation, when Rabbi Shimon says, "Do you not agree with me that tzitzit is a time-bound positive precept," he means that a night garment, if it is not being worn, is exempt, since it is not intended to be worn; but if in fact a person wears a night garment during the day, it is obligated, because the day imposes an obligation even upon a night garment, and for this reason, tzitzit is a time-bound mitzva. If so, it may be suggested that the Sages' response to Rabbi Shimon, "if it was designated for both the day and the night it is obligated in tzitzit," is that if he actually wears the night garment during the day, this is like a garment designated for the day and designated for the night, and therefore it is obligated in tzitzit even when it rests in a chest at night, and thus, once again, there is no case of a garment that when worn during the day is obligated, but when worn at night is exempt.

 

            According to this, we can answer the objection asked of the Maharach Or Zarua (62):

 

Please instruct me regarding the following: according to the view that tzitzit is an obligation that applies to the garment, tying the tzitzit [should be considered] to be the completion of the mitzva, like applying a railing to a roof (as per Devarim 22:8) or a mezuza, and actually wearing the garment that has tzitzit is not the essential mitzva. As such, why did the Torah permit kil'ayim in tzitzit? Is it possible that each one [of the tying and the wearing] is a separate mitzva, and two blessings are required, one at the time it is tied, “la’asot,” "to make," and one at the time of wrapping, “le’hit’attef,” "to enwrap oneself." From where do we derive this?

 

            The Yeshu'ot Yaakov (no. 19, 1) answers, along the lines of the explanation cited above, that according to view that the obligation applies to the garment, a garment resting in a chest is obligated because it will be worn in the future. But if there were no allowance to wear kil'ayim in tzitzit, there would be obligation upon a garment of kil'ayim resting in a chest because it is not intended to be worn. And if the Torah permitted kil'ayim, it does not apply only to garments resting in a chest, but rather because he is allowed to wear them, and this defines them as intended to be worn in the future.

 

(Translated by David Strauss)



[1] Thanks to Rav Yoel Amital, who edited this article from HaRav Amital's manuscript; and also to Rav Yaacov Francus, who reviewed the article and made some additional revisions.

[2] But Rashi in Shabbat (25b, s.v. ve-inhu savri) writes like Rabbeinu Tam. The Vilna Gaon comments on this in his notes to Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chayyim 18, on the words of the Shulchan Arukh who cites the Rambam: "And so explained Rashi in Menachot 40b, but in Shabbat 25b, he did not explain it in this manner." See Mishkenot Yaakov, no. 23, who resolves the contradiction in Rashi.

[3] See also Sha'agat Aryeh, no. 30.

[4] See Maharam Benett who had difficulty with this, and writes that perhaps for this reason the Tosafot in Menachot (40b, s.v. mishum) cite the Yerushalmi and conclude with the words, "The matter requires further clarification."