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A Question That Will "Box" You In

In this weeks parsha we will read about the mitzva of tefillin. Many Rishonim hold that when putting on tefillin one should make a bracha on the arm tefillin and another bracha on the head tefillin. That is the opinion of the Rema and the Ashkenazic custom.

However many argue and say that only one bracha is made on the arm tefillin and if he didn't speak in the interim no second bracha is necessary. That is the opinion of the Shulchan Aruch and the Sephardic practice.

The opinion that says to make two brachos [i.e. the Rema] is very problematic.

1] The halacha is that when separating terumos and maásros one makes only ONE bracha - even for multiple separations [Rambam Maáser 1/16, S.A. 331/78]. The reason is that all of the acts of separating are connected, thus mandating one bracha. The same should apply to tefillin. Since the arm and head tefillin are really in the same category only one bracha should be said.

2] The very same Rema who argued with the Shulchan Aruch and insisted that two brachos are made on tefillin didn't argue about terumos and maásros when the Shulchan Aruch said to make only one bracha. He seemingly agrees then with the S.A. which prompts us to ask why that case is different from tefillin?

3] When one puts on two pairs of tzitzis together he makes one bracha even though he is fulfilling two mitzvos. The same should then apply to tefillin. Why is tefillin different and we make two brachos?

These questions were posed by a prominent Orthodox Rabbi from Vilna, a certain Rabbi Elijah Kramer in his famous Biur HaGra commentary.

Please help answer these questions by sunday morning when we will once again put on tefillin and most likely [if you are Ashkenazi and male or female and VERY liberal] make two brachos.

Love, Blessings and Good Shabbos to all!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The gemara is clear that there is a machlokes in the gemara itself by tefillin how many brachos we say. The Rama is simply quoting another shita l'halacha. His source is another opinion cited in the talmud. By terumos and maasros my understanding is that there is no argument in the gemara and all agree that one bracha is made.

Good Shabbos Rav Ally, actually by the time you read this it will be motzei shabbos so Shavua tov Rav Ally! I had a Kasha for the rebbe. I was looking at the alleyways section on "women and marriage" and there are excellent shiurim there, but there is no shiur on the topic of "taharats hamispacha" which is central to a Jewish Marriage. Now I am aware that there are sensitvities there and certain halachos regarding speaking about such matters but I was hoping the rebbe could talk about this important Inyan in some way. (perhaps the theory behind it as opposed to the details). I believe the Rav's insights into this albeit sensitive topic would benefit the alumni and alleyways visitors if perhaps not the current talmidim.

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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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