A discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the
week. For final rulings, consult your Rav.
SELECTED HALACHOS RELATING TO PARSHAS EMOR
WEARING TZITZIS: IS IT MANDATORY?
According to the Midrash quoted by Rashi, the Jewish People were rewarded
with the mitzvah of tzitzis because our forebear, Shem, took pains 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 "to see the Shechinah."
But is one required to wear a garment with tzitzis fringes attached to it,
or is it merely optional?
Although Biblical law does not require one to put tzitzis on a garment
unless the garment that he is wearing has four square corners, which most
garments nowadays do not have, it is fitting and proper for every male to
wear a tallis katan (a small four-cornered garment) 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 katan all day(3). Since this has
become the prevalent custom, one may not deviate from the accepted practice.
Nowadays, therefore, one is obligated to wear a tallis katan all day
long(4). Indeed, those who are meticulous in their mitzvah observance do not
walk four cubits (approximately eight feet) without tzitzis(5).
DOES A TALLIS KATAN REQUIRE A BLESSING?
Married men and those who wear a large tallis during davening need not
recite a separate blessing over their tallis katan. Rather, when they recite
the proper blessing over the tallis gadol, they should have the tallis katan
in mind(6). Unmarried men who do not wear a tallis gadol recite the blessing
of Al mitzvas tzitzis on a tallis katan. If the tallis katan is of
questionable size(7) or material(8), a blessing should not be said.
Although all married(9) men should wear a tallis gadol during davening,
they should not forgo davening with a minyan if a tallis is unavailable in
shu(l)10. [In regard to tefillin, however, it is better to daven without a
minyan than to daven without tefillin(11).]
Before the blessing on a tallis gadol or katan may be recited, the tzitzis
fringes should be separated from one another(12). Some poskim(13) imply that
if the fringes are intertwined, then one has not fulfilled the mitzvah of
tzitzis at all, while other poskim hold that b'dieved one has fulfilled the
mitzvah(14). [If taking time to separate the tzitzis will cause one to miss
tefillah b'tzibur, he may rely on the lenient view(15).] All poskim agree
that if the fringes are tied [or glued] together, then the mitzvah has not
been fulfilled and the blessing said over them is said in vain(16).
Often, the chulyos (the top segment of the fringes which is wound and
knotted) become unraveled or loosened. If this happens, the fringes should
be rewound and knotted. On Shabbos, however, this is strictly forbidden.
Tightening or knotting tzitzis fringes on Shabbos may even be Biblically
QUESTION: L'chatchilah, can one wear a tallis katan made out of cotton?
DISCUSSION: There is a dispute among the Rishonim as to whether it is a
Biblical requirement to attach tzitzis to a four-cornered garment made of
cotton. Some Rishonim(18) hold that only woolen and linen garments are
Biblically obligated in tzitzis, while others(19) include cotton as well.
Both views are quoted in the Shulchan Aruch(20), and the Rama rules like the
view that maintains that cotton garments are Biblically required.
Nevertheless, many poskim advise a G-d-fearing person to wear only a tallis
katan made from wool and thereby fulfill the mitzvah according to all
views(21). Other poskim, however, do not insist on wool(22), and there were
eminent Torah scholars(23) who wore cotton garments to fulfill the mitzvah
1 Menachos 43b, quoted in O.C. 24:6.
2 Bamidbar 15:39 [quoted in O.C. 24:1]: "That you may see it and remember
all the commandments of Hashem and perform them." In addition, the Talmud
(Menachos 41a) says that wearing a tallis katan protects a person from
4 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:4. See also Igros Moshe O.C. 5:20-25.
5 Mishnah Berurah 8:1. See also Tzitz Eliezer 14:49, who says that the
tallis katan should be left on even if one is suffering from the heat.
6 Mishnah Berurah 8:24, 30; Aruch ha-Shulchan 8:16. This is especially
recommended since often the tallis katan may not be the right size according
to all views. In order to avoid reciting a blessing on the tallis katan that
may be l'vatalah, it is best to recite the blessing over the tallis gadol.
Some poskim rule that if there will be a "long break" until the tallis gadol
is worn, a blessing should be said on the tallis katan - Harav Y.Y.
Kanievsky in Orchos Rabbeinu 1:48; oral ruling heard from Harav M.
Feinstein. See Siach Halachah 8:47-5 for elaboration.
7 See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 16 for the laws of the proper size.
8 Rama O.C. 8:6. The following segment discusses which materials require
9 The Sephardic and German custom is that unmarried men wear a tallis gadol,
10 Imrei Yosher 2:201-2; Be'er Moshe 5:5.
11 Mishnah Berurah 66:40.
12 O.C. 8:7.
13 Artzos ha-Chayim O.C. 8; Beiur Halachah 8:7 according to the view of the
Gr"a and Olas Tamid.
14 Aruch ha-Shulchan 8:13; Chazon Ish O.C. 3:9.
15 Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 9:7; Mishnah Berurah 8:18; Aruch ha-Shulchan, 8:13.
The Artzos ha-Chayim [quoted above] holds that one must separate his tzitzis
even at the expense of tefillah b'tzibur.
21 Chayei Adam 11:5; Shulchan Aruch Harav 9:4; Mishnah Berurah 9:5; Igros
Moshe O.C. 1:2; 2:1; 3:1; 3:52. In Igros Moshe O.C. 5:20-25, Harav Feinstein
adds that one who suffers from the heat is not required to wear woolen
garments, although he himself was particular to do so.
22 Kitzur Shulchan Aruch and Aruch ha-Shulchan do not mention this
23 Chazon Ish (quoted in Shoneh Halachos 9:1) and Harav Y.Y. Kanievsky
(quoted in Orchos Rabbeinu 3:188) based on the ruling of the Gr"a (Ma'asei
Rav 17). There are several reasons given why the Gr"a ruled so - See
Tzitzis-Halachah Pesukah pg. 77.