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38:1 One who is ill with an (1) intestinal ailment is (2) exempt from (3) tefillin. Ramo: Even if he does not suffer any (4) pain. Any other kind of ill person that is in pain because of his illness, and his mind is unsettled, is (5) exempt; if not, he is obligated.

MB1 Intestinal ailment – The same is true of one who takes a laxative.

MB2 Exempt – Because tefillin require bodily cleanliness [i.e. to be free of absolutely all traces of human waste, which is nearly impossible to achieve when a person is ill in this manner].

MB3 From tefillin – One who did not fulfil the mitzva of tefillin because of illness, and thirty days passed without him putting them on, stil must not recite the beracha of “Shehechiyanu” when he puts them on again.

MB4 Pain – Even if he goes out to the markets and streets, he is still exempt. It is forbidden to be strict with himself [and put them on anyway], except at the time of Shema and Shemona Esreh, if he knows that he can restrain himself [in a state of] bodily cleanliness, as he writes in se’if 2.

MB5 Exempt – Lest, because of his pain, he should lose his concentration upon them. If he wishes to be strict with himself, he is permitted. One whose chest is uncovered, i.e. he goes with pants alone, and his upper body is exposed (this does NOT include one whose collar is open) should not put on tefillin. Even though he is allowed to recite a beracha if his private parts are covered, as is shown in Siman 74, nontheless it is not proper that his chest be uncovered and [yet] put on tefillin.

38:2 (6) One who is certain that he is unable (7) to daven without passing gas, it is better that he allow the time for davening to pass, rather than to daven without bodily cleanliness. If it seems to him that he is able to restrain himself with bodily cleanliness (8) at the time of Shema, he should but tefillin on between [the beracha of] “Ahava” and Shema, (9) and recite the beracha.

MB6 One who is certain – Excluding the one who is not certain, who should certainly not forfeit davening with the tzibbur because of this.

MB7 To daven – Specifically Shemoneh Esreh, because it is like standing before the King, and it is unseemly to stand and daven having in mind to interrupt in the middle until the odor has dissipated. For Shema and its berachos, however, it is permitted – as long as it is without tefillin.

MB8 At the time of Shema – See on, siman 80 in the Mishna Berura, for all will be explained there, with Hashem’s help.

MB9 And recite the beracha – He should recite Shema with them, and then take them off. If he knows that he cannot restrain himself from passing gas longer than [the time it takes] to remove the head tefillin [alone], nontheless it is permissible lechalchila to put both on. So writes the Magen Avraham, although the Peri Megadim questions this.


38:3 (10) Women and slaves are not obligated in tefillin, because it is a positive mitzvah that is (11) time-bound. Ramo: If (12) women wish to be strict with themselves [and put on tefillin], (13) we prevent them.

MB10 Women – People of indeterminate gender, and those with androgynous features, are abligated because of doubt, as with all mitzvos.

MB11 Time-bound – Because Shabbos and Yom-tov are not times for tefillin

MB12 Women – See Peri Megadim, that the same is true of slaves. See Tosfos Shabbos, who explicitly writes the opposite. See Tosfos Yerushalayim.

MB13 We prevent them – Because they [tefillin] require bodily cleanliness, and women are not as zealous to be careful. [Translator’s note: See Aruch HaShulchan, who explains that they are not as vigilant because they are not actually obligated in the mitzvah, but act of their own volition.]

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein [email protected]

Well, Ladies and Gents, I’m back on-line as a married man. And lo and behold, the first Halacha I get to do is a stand-in for Fridays (where our regular writer is _quite_ swamped, or so I hear). The “coincidence” is rather stunning.