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A Question That Will "Box" You In - Answer

For this question, like any other good question - you have to try to think "out of the box". I was thinking that we can answer the question based on a principle of the Rogochover Gaon. He said that the mitzva of the arm tefillin is fundamentally different than the mitzva of the head tefillin. The former is a mitzva to perform the ACT of laying the tefilin. This is expressed by the bracha "li'haneach tefillin" - to LAY the tefillin. The latter is a mitzva that the tefillin should be resting on the head [and the act of placing them is just a means of fulfilling the mitzva].

[The practical difference [nafka minah] would be if one must put tefillin on during the night due to extenuating circumstances. The gemara [Menachos 36a] says that in a such an instance one should touch his tefillin [yimashmesh] after daybreak. The Rogochover asserts that the gemara is referring only to the ARM tefillin where the mitzva is to do an ACT of placing [if the tefillin are already on touching suffices]. But such an act would not be necessary with respect to the head tefillin because all that matters is that after daybreak the tefillin are resting on the persons head.]

If we accept his premise then it would emerge that one bracha on the tefillin would not suffice because each of the two brachos expresses the different nature of the each respective mitzva. That is different than terumos and ma'asros where one bracha would cover both mitzvos.

[If you are interested in another few resolutions see the excellent sefer Birkas Ya'akov on Birkos Hamitzva Page 148.]

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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