Simanim 19-22 The Time of the Berakha

  • Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon
The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit Midrash

Mishna Berura
Yeshivat Har Etzion

SHIUR #11:Simanim 19-22

Pages 59-61


by Rav Yosef Zvi Rimon



Siman 19:  The Time of the Berakha





            See Menachot 42a:


            "R. Nachman came across R. Ada bar Ahava placing strings       into his tzitzit and reciting, '... and commanded us to             make tzitzit.'  He said to him [mockingly], 'What is this     "tzitzi" that I hear?'  Said Rav,  'Tzitzit do not       require a berakha [on their making].'"


            This disagreement of R. Nachman and R. Ada bar Ahava (with whom R. Chisda sides) revolves around the very nature of the mitzva of tzitzit.


            The sugya continues on 42b:


            "Any mitzva for which the manufacture [of the item]       represents the completion or final stage of the mitzva,      e.g., mila (circumcision) - even though it is valid when             performed by a non-Jew, when a Jew performs it he recites        a berakha; any mitzva in which the making of it does not    represent the completion of the mitzva, e.g., tefillin -        even though it is invalid when performed by a non-Jew,          when a Jew performs it he does not need to recite a        berakha.  Regarding tzitzit, this is where they disagree:           one says the obligation rests upon the garment, and the    other says the obligation rests upon the person."


            How does the Shulchan Arukh rule?  What are the two practical ramifications which he mentions (se'if 1)?



Siman 20:  Buying and Selling a Tallit





            In Menachot 43a, we find that when one buys a garment with tzitzit already on it from a Jew, it is assumed to be kosher.  However, if he bought it from a non-Jew who is not a merchant, it is invalid.


            What makes a merchant (tagar) trustworthy?  According to the Ran, it is the fact that a merchant would not do anything to damage his credibility and thus his livelihood.  Therefore, we can assume that the tzitzit are in fact kosher.  The Magen Avraham explains otherwise.  He points out that non-Jews are not in the habit of adorning their garments with tzitzit; hence, it must be a Jew who actually did the work.


            What about a Jew who is not trustworthy?  See M.B. 20:1.  When one buys tzitzit from a store, he must evaluate the probability that the strings were woven lishma - for the sake of the mitzva.  This usually is not a problem.  Regarding the validity of the tying of the tzitzit-strings, see our discussion in siman 14 above under the heading, "Tying the tzitziot without the proper intention."




            Menachot 43a teaches that it is forbidden to sell a garment fitted out with tzitzit to a non-Jew.  Two reasons are put forth.  See the gemara there, and see also Rashi s.v. Mishum zona.


            Until recent years, even Arab professors at a certain Israeli university were compelled to wear a kippa.  This practice has since been discontinued.  In light of the above-mentioned gemara and Rashi, which decision appears to you to be the correct one?



Siman 21:  Worn-out Tzitzit and Tallit





            Megilla 26b discusses the distinction between objects used for a mitzva (tashmishei mitzva) and objects which are intrinsically sacred (tashmishei kedusha): the former may be disposed of, the latter must be secreted and saved.  This provides the key to understanding the ruling of the Shulchan Arukh.  See the Rema who nevertheless is stringent, and M.B. 21:6.  See also the Arukh Ha-shulchan (21:4) who explains how the Rema reads the gemara.




            Does this mean when tzitzit are or are not on the garment?  Is there a difference in this between a tallit gadol and a tallit katan?  See M.B. 21:12.  What is the Rema's opinion in such a case?  See M.B. 21:13.




            A tefillin bag may not be used to hold any other item unless this stipulation were made from the start (this will be discussed further BE"H in siman 42:3).  However, if the tefillin bag is placed within another bag, other, mundane, items may be placed within the bigger bag because it is considered a tashmish de-tashmish - an object whose function is to "serve" another, more essential, object (M.B. 42:11).


            What about a tallit bag?  Do you think it should be different from a tefillin bag?  See M.B. 42:11.  What if one places his tefillin bag inside his tallit bag?




            The Nimukei Yosef (Hilkhot Tzitzit) demonstrates that one may enter the bathroom with a tallit on.  His proof is based on the case of R. Yehuda, who according to the gemara in Menachot 43a wore his tallit all day long (this surely included some trips to the bathroom!).


            In the Lekket Yosher (OC p. 6) we find that the Terumat Ha-deshen did remove his tallit before entering the bathroom - but not his tallit katan.


            See the Shulchan Arukh, and M.B. 21:14, for their ruling.


            What about a "kittel" that is worn on the High Holidays?  See M.B. 21:14.




            May one go to sleep with tzitzit on?  See the Rema.


            For the kabbalistic viewpoint, see M.B. 21:15 who reports the custom of the Ari (who did sleep with his tallit katan on).


            The Olat Tamid (6) brings a proof for this from the gemara in Menachot 43b which relates that King David was sorrowful when he went into a bathhouse because he was bereft of mitzvot (until he remembered his berit mila and was comforted).  Why did this regret not afflict him when he went to sleep?  Answers the Olat Tamid, he must have been wearing his tzitzit to bed.  However, many Acharonim reject this proof for the following reasons:

1) He had a mezuza on his doorpost (Magen Avraham 21:2).

2) Wearing tzitzit at night would not help him earn a mitzva, because the obligation is not in effect at night (Mekor Chayim).  [However, R. Akiva Eiger in his Chiddushim writes that this is in fact a support for the opinion of the Rosh as discussed above in siman 18.]

3) His mind was occupied with thoughts of Torah (Mekor Chayim).

4) Sexual intercourse is itself a mitzva (Mekor Chayim, Chatam Sofer).


            For opinions opposing the kabbalistic one, see Sha'arei Teshuva 8:1.  Also, in Dinim Ve-hanhagot Me-haChazon Ish (2:14), it records, "He did not sleep at night with his tallit katan."


            So far we have been discussing sleeping at night.  What about a daytime nap?  See our discussion above in siman 8, and our future discussion BE"H in siman 24:1.




            The Agur writes (siman 10), "One who lets his tzitziot drag along the floor calls upon himself the verse, 'And I will sweep it with the broom of destruction' (Yeshayahu 14:23)."  So rules the Shulchan Arukh.


            This, to be sure, is rather a common problem with tzitzit.


            The Magen Avraham has two questions to ask of the Agur and the Shulchan Arukh:

1) The Shulchan Arukh himself in siman 23 writes that it is forbidden to let tzitziot drag over graves because it is "lo'eg le-rash" - mocking the unfortunate (here, the dead, who are unable to perform this mitzva).  This ruling implies that there is no prohibition otherwise.

2) In Gittin 56a we find that the man who was called "ben Tzitzit Ha-kesset" got his name due to the fact that his tzitziot dragged upon cushions (due to his wealth) - indicating that other people's dragged directly upon the floor!


            The Magen Avraham suggests two possible approaches to his own questions.

1) The graves were situated above ground level (and in Ben Tzitzit Ha-kesset's day, nobody else's tzitzit dragged at all!).

2) Only when one drags his tzitziot over graves while putting them on is guilty of mockery; if they simply drag while he walks by, it is not a problem.


            The practical difference which arises from these two explanations is clear.


            Two reasons for the prohibition of dragging are found in M.B. 21:18.  See the solution which he proposes.  But see the Arukh Ha-shulchan (7) who sees no need for this suggestion.  (In Darkhei Chayim Ve-shalom, 6, it is written that one should not follow the Mishna Berura's advice; since the tallit is "surrounding light" - "or ha-makif" - it should not be curtailed in any way.)


            (See also the Kaf Ha-chayim, 21:18, who discusses why the Shulchan Arukh did not quote the Agur's statement in its entirety.  What do you think - is it forbidden to let the tzitziot touch the ground, or only to drag them?)



Siman 22:  She-hechiyanu





            The Tosefta in Berakhot (6:15) teaches, "One who makes his own tzitzit recites the berakha '... who has enabled us to reach this time.'"


            See the Rambam (Hilkhot Berakhot 11:9).  Why does he believe that one must make a berakha on the making of tzitzit?


            The Beit Yosef offers a different reason; see what he says in the Shulchan Arukh.


            The practical differences which arise from these alternate approaches include:

1) Should one recite the berakha when putting tzitziot on an old garment?

2) Should one recite the berakha when making tefillin?  (See Ba'er Heiteiv 22:1.)


            We rule against the Rambam.  Accordingly, it appears that one should make this berakha at the time of the garment's purchase, before the tzitziot are inserted.  Why, then, does the Shulchan Arukh write, "One who bought a tallit and placed tzitziot in it recites 'she-hechiyanu?'"  See M.B. 22:1 for a fundamental distinction in the laws of "she-hechiyanu."  (This also pertains to new clothes which still need alterations, etc.)


            If one did not recite the berakha at the time of his first wearing of the garment, may he say it later?  See the Bi'ur Halakha s.v. Bi-she'at.  (Regarding one who has already taken a bite of a new fruit before saying she-hechiyanu, see M.B. 225:11.)


            (Which berakha comes first, "she-hechiyanu" or "le-hit'atef?"  See M.B. 22:3.  In contrast, take a look at M.B. 225:11 where he contradicts himself.  The author of the notes and comments on Shulchan Ha-tahor believes that the Mishna Berura simply changed his mind.  Others, in the book Ha-gra U-minhagav, find a way to distinguish between the two cases, but that is beyond the scope of our discussion.) 




Menachot 75a reads,


            "One who is standing and offering meal-offerings in         Jerusalem recites 'she-hechiyanu.'"


            Rashi, s.v. Haya omed, explains, "This refers, for example, to a kohen who has never yet offered a meal-offering."  (Tosafot disagree, asserting that the berakha is called for because this mitzva is one which comes up periodically, at fixed intervals, since each kohen only serves one mishmeret or watch every half a year.)


            According to Rashi, every mitzva requires a "she-hechiyanu" the first time it is performed in an individual's life.  Hence, a boy should make a "she-hechiyanu" on his tzitzit the first time he puts them on after passing the age of thirteen!  But we do not rule this way for two reasons:

1) Since Tosafot dispute Rashi's decision we have a doubt, and in cases of doubt we omit the berakha - "safek berakhot le-hakel" (Yechaveh Da'at vol. II, 31).

2) Even Rashi would not say that a berakha is required in such a case, since the boy was also wearing tzitzit before the age of thirteen - even though then he could not make the berakha because the mitzva was not yet obligatory for him (Tzitz Eliezer vol. 13, 24).



(This shiur was translated by Pnina Baumgarten.)