Wednesday, January 03, 2007

is there a din of chatzitzah by tefillin?

The Mishna (Megillah 24b) requires that tefillin be worn directly on the arm and not on top of one’s shirt. Rashi explains the reason for this law is because the pasuk describes tefillin as “v’haya lecha l’os al yadecha”, as a private symbol, but not an outward sign for others to see. If tefillin are worn over one’s clothes they are noticeable; if worn directly on one’s arm and covered by one’s shirt, the tefillin are concealed and private. Other Rishonim offer a far simpler reason for the Mishna – the obligation that tefillin be worn on the arm excludes chatzitzah, any blockage, such as clothing, between the arm and the tefillin themselves. One practical difference between Rashi and the other views would be whether this Mishna applies to the tefillin shel rosh (Rashb"a). According to Rashi, this din is unique to the description of tefillin shel yad; according to other Rishonim (whose view we accept l’halacha) who assume there is a din of chatzitzah by tefillin, the same din would apply both to shel yad and shel rosh. A second potential difference between these views would be if one wore tefillin shel yad over one's shirt but then placed nother covering over the tefillin (Magen Avraham 27:6) - the tefillin meet Rashi's criterion of being a private and not public symbol, but there is still a problem of chatitzah according to all other Rishonim.


  1. Anonymous10:09 AM

    How do the Rishonim that are choleik on Rashi learn chatzitza applies to the Shel Rosh? Is "lecha" modifying "l'totafos bein einecha" as well? I guess according to Rashi, you couldn't learn that "lecha" modifies "l'totafos", because the words are essentially antonyms. But according to the other Rishonim it could work.

  2. They don't use lecha at all - sorry, I should have made that clearer. They draw an analogy to bigdei kehuna where the gemara explains v'lavash al besaro means worn on the body with no chatzitzah; here al yadcha and bein einecha mean directly on the body as well.

  3. Anonymous3:12 PM

    So according to Rashi, would it be ok to wear tefilin over your shirt but under a jacket?

  4. Yes, but this is not l'ma'aseh! Check the Aruch haShulchan 27:13

  5. Anonymous10:38 AM

    On hair as a chatziza for tefillin shel rosh, I've heard that it is for that reason that Chassidim keep their hair so short. I've also heard, though I haven't verified it in Washington Heights, that Yekkes hold that hair is not a chatziza so long as it is in its natural state -- not styled. That would account for why my father's hair was not yet brushed back when he donned his tefilin. But I never asked him about it.

  6. The machloket here is very interesting. According to the majority of Rishonim, the presence of a chatzitza by tefillin is actually a lack in proper "levisha" of tefillin. According to Rashi, it is not that there is a lack in the wearing of tefillin, but the chatzitza creates a new quality of "publicness" that is a posel for tefillin shel yad.

    Apparently, Rashi isn't bothered by the analogy to Bigde Kehuna. It seems that he doesn't hold that there is a concept of "levisha" in the framework of tefillin at all. Levisha would indeed require direct contact between the flesh of the person and the article. But Rashi maintains that tefillin has a din of "hanacha", placement on a particular location (bicep and head), not levisha. This would be the reason he differs with the other poskim.

    The other Rishonim seem to maintain that, on the contrary, hanacha is a type of wearing, and is therefore governed by the same principles as other levisha.

    BTW, I love your blog! I find it so thought provoking and insightful.

  7. Thank you - glad you enjoy. The lomdus you suggest is very nice!

  8. >>>It seems that he doesn't hold that there is a concept of "levisha" in the framework of tefillin at all.

    Soon I hope to get to the issue of shabbos zman tefillin or not (bli neder), but to jump the gun, according to your approach in Rashi why would tefillin ever be considered a malbush? (Unless you want to distinguish the act of levisha vs. hanacha from the cheftza being labelled a tachsit or malbush?)