Wednesday, December 27, 2006

the bracha of al mitzvas tefillin

Our practice is to recite the bracha of al mitzvas tefilin before donning the shel rosh, but to add barch shem kvod malchuso as if this was a bracha l’vatala. If we are concerned for Rashi’s opinion that the bracha is unnecessary, than based on the rule of safeik brachos l’hakeil shouldn’t we simply omit the bracha entirely?

The Aruch haShulchan creatively suggests that baruch shem is not said as a response to a potential bracha l’vatala, but is said simply as a statement of praise to Hashem’s name which is represented by the tefillin shel rosh – v’rau kol amei ha’aretz ki shem Hashem nikra alecha v’yaru m’meka. He further adds that the bracha of al miztvas tefillin itself is not a birchas hamitzva, but a birchas hashevach, as we never find two brachos on a single mitzvah act.

I do not quite understand the redefinition of this bracha as a birchas hashevach, as a birchas hashevach is normally recited only after the fact; here, the bracha is recited specifically over l’asiyasan, before the tefillin are donned. Perhaps one might explain the two brachos here relate to two distinct kiyumim of tefillin: 1) the ma’aseh hamitzvah, the act of donning the tefillin, which is covered by the bracha of l’haniach; 2) the kiyum of wearing tefillin, which is covered by the bracha of al mitzvas. This may explain why according to Rashi in the case of interruption a seperate bracha of al mitzvas is recited on the shel rosh and we do not simply repeat the bracha of l'haniach. Clearly hefsek is not a mechayeiv of shevach; Rashi must see the extra bracha as a new form of birchas hamitzvah.

6 comments:

  1. anon12:57 PM

    IIRC, the Rav had a mehalech about berachos that are not over la-asiyasan and were birchos shevach. Specfically, I think he noted tosfos on pesachim 7a re: whether the bracha le-hachniso by milah was before or after the milah, Rabenu Tam saying after because it is not on the maaseh but rather on the status of being mahul (others discuss that the bracha lehachniso is still before the periah ve-ein kan mekomo). Tosfos there also notes birchas eirusin which is after (according to some shitos) tied into the famous Rosh in Kesubos that it is a birchas shevach and not birchas ha-mitzvah. For some reason, I thought I remembered the Rav also noted the bracha al mitzvas tefilin, tied into the idea based on his reading of the Rambam that one is "muchtar" with tefilin and the bracha is therefore on the status the person has with the tefilin rather than the maaseh ha-mitzvah. I know there is some precision missing in this comment but it is seemed to be relevant to your post so I figured I'd add it FWIW.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have heard this idea of muchtar b'tefillin (I did not have a chance to look but IIRC it is mentioned somewhere in shiurim l'zecher aba mari), but am using it slightly differently because I want to learn that the bracha of al miztvas is still a birchas hamitzvah and therefore needs to over l'asiyasan, but the over l'asiyasan is to the completion of the act of becoming muchtar, not over l'asiyasan to the start of the ma'aseh hanacha. Rashi's shita still bothers me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. anon14:35 PM

    I hear. Interesting. RE: Rashi, could the kiyum be based on the din of "vehayu totafos" that when wearing the shel rosh, lechatchilah one should have the shel yad on already. Obviously not meakev as these are two mitzvos but there is an added kiyum in wearing the shel rosh while the shel yad is already on. Perhaps the bracha on that kiyum is over la-asiyasan. Efsher.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I planned to get to that idea too, but you beat me! Too much to lump together in one post, so I broke things up. Bli neder maybe tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
  5. anon15:55 PM

    To the extent that I did, baruch she-kivanti! Looking forward to seeing more.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous5:29 AM

    . Perhaps one might explain the two brachos here relate to two distinct kiyumim of tefillin: 1) the ma’aseh hamitzvah, the act of donning the tefillin, which is covered by the bracha of l’haniach; 2) the kiyum of wearing tefillin, which is covered by the bracha of al mitzvas.

    I find this hard to accept; when do we have separate brachot on kiyum and maaseh of a mitzvah?

    ReplyDelete