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Weekly Halacha

Selected Halachos relating to Parshas Noach

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.

Wearing Tzitzis: Is It Mandatory?

According to the Midrash quoted by Rashi (Bereishis 9:23) the Jewish people were awarded with the Mitzvah of Tzitzis because our forebear, Shem, took pain to preserve the modesty of his drunken father Noach by covering him with a garment.

The Talmud (1) states further that one who is scrupulous in his observance of the Mitzvah of Tzitzis will merit "seeing the Shechinah." But, the question is often asked, is one required to wear a garment with Tzitzis fringes attached to it, or is it merely optional?

According to the basic law, one is required to put Tzitzis on his garment only if the garment that he is wearing has four square corners, which most garments nowadays do not have. One is not required to put on a four-cornered garment in order to incur the obligation of Mitzvas Tzitzis. Nevertheless, it is fitting and proper for every male to wear a Tallis Koton all day. By doing so, he fulfills an important Mitzvah, one that serves as a constant reminder of all of the other Mitzvos of the Torah (2). Accordingly, it has become customary for all G-d fearing people to wear a Tallis Koton (a small four-cornered garment) all day (3). Since this has become the prevalent custom, one may no longer deviate from the accepted practice. Nowadays, therefore, one is obligated to wear a Tallis Koton all day long (4). Those who are meticulous in their Mitzvah observance do not walk four Amos without Tzitzis (5).

Married men who wear a Tallis during Davening need not recite a separate blessing over their Tallis Koton. Rather, when they recite the blessing over the Tallis Gadol, they should have the Tallis Koton in mind (6). Unmarried men who do not wear a Tallis Gadol recite the Bracha on a Tallis Koton which must be of the proper size and material. Preferably, they should wrap the Tallis Koton around their head before putting it on (7).

Although one must definitely wear a Tallis Gadol during Davening, he should not pass up Davening with a Minyan if a Tallis is unavailable in Shul (8). In regard to Tefillin, however, it is better to Daven without a Minyan than to Daven without Tefillin (9).

Before the Bracha on a Tallis Gadol or Koton can be recited, the Tzitzis fringes must be separated from one another (10). Some Poskim (11) imply that if the strings are intertwined, then one has not fulfilled the Mitzvah of Tzitzis at all, while other Poskim hold that B'dieved one is Yotzei (12). [If taking time out to separate the Tzitzis will cause one to miss Tefilla B'tzibur, he may rely on the lenient view (13).] All Poskim agree that if the strings are tied [or glued] together, then the Mitzvah has not been fulfilled and the Bracha said over them is a Bracha L'vatallah (14).

Often, the Chulyos (the wrapped portion of the Tzitzis fringes) become unraveled or loosened. If this happens, the strings should be rewrapped and knotted. On Shabbos, however, this is strictly forbidden. Tightening or knotting the Tzitzis strings on Shabbos, may be biblically prohibited (15).

L'chatchilla, can one wear a Tallis Koton made out of cotton?

There is a dispute among the Rishonim at to whether it is a biblical requirement to attach Tzitzis to a four-cornered garment made of cotton. Some Rishonim (16) hold that only woolen garments are obligated in Tzitzis M'deoraissa, while others (17) include cotton as well. Both views are quoted in Shulchan Aruch (18), and the Rama rules that cotton garments do require Tzitzis M'deoraissa. Nevertheless, many Poskim advise a G-d fearing person to wear only a Tallis Koton made out of wool and thereby fulfill the Mitzvah according to all views (19). Other Poskim, however, do not insist on wool (20) and there were eminent Gedolim (21) who wore cotton garments to fulfill the Mitzvah of Tzitzis.


1 Menachos 43b, quoted in OC 24:6.

2 Shelach 15:39 quoted in OC 24:1: "That you may see it and remember all the commandments of Hashem and perform them." In addition., the Talmud (Menachos 41:1) says that wearing a Tallis Koton protects a person from Hashem's anger.

3 Aruch Hashulchan 8:2; Tzitz Eliezer 8:4; Yechave Daas 4:2.

4 Igros Moshe OC 4:4. See also Igros Moshe OC 5:20-25.

5 Mishna Berura 8:1. See also Tzitz Eliezer 14:49, who says that the Tallis Koton should be left on even if one is suffering from the heat.

6 Mishna Berura 8:24. This is especailly recommended since often the Tallis Koton may not be the right size according to all views. In order to avoid reciting a Bracha in a questionable situation, it is best to recite the Bracha over the Tallis.

7 Mishna Berura 8:7

8 Imrei Yosher 2:201-2. Shu"t Be'er Moshe 5:5.

9 Mishna Berura 66:40

10 OC 8:7.

11 Artzos Hachayim OC 8; Biur Halacha 8:7 according to the view of the Gr"a and Olas Tomid.

12 Aruch Hashulchan 8:13; Chazon Ish OC 3:9.

13 Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 9:7; Mishna Berura 8:18; Aruch Hashulchan, 8:13. According to the Artzos Hachayim, quoted above, one must separate his Tzitzis even at the expense of Tefilla B'tzibur.

14 Chazon Ish OC 3:9.

15 Ktzos Hashulchan (Badei Hashulchan 317:4); Az Nidberu 3:22; Shemiras Shabbos K'hilchasa 15:50.

16 Rif, Rambam.

17 Rashi, Tosfos, Rosh.

18 OC 9:1.

19 Chayi Adam 11:5; Shulchan Aruch Harav 9:4; Mishna Berurah 9:5; Igros Moshe OC 1:2; OC 2:1; OC 3:1; OC 3:52. In Igros Moshe OC 5:20-25 he adds that one who suffers from the heat is not required to wear woolen garments although he himself was particular to do so.

20 Kitzur Shulchan Aruch and Aruch Hashulchan do not mention this stringency.

21 Chazon Ish (quoted in Shone Halachos 9:1) and the Steipler (quoted in Archos Rabeinu 3:188) based on the ruling of the Gr"a (Maase Rav 17). There are several reasons given why the Gr"a ruled so, see Tzitzis - Halacha Pesukah pg. 77.

Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 1997 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and Project Genesis, Inc. Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.

The Weekly-Halacha Series is distributed L'zchus Hayeled Doniel Meir ben Hinda. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross

The series is distributed by the Harbotzas Torah Division of Congregation Shomre Shabbos, 1801 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118--HaRav Yisroel Grumer, Marah D'Asra



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