Shabbat Parashat R'ei | 5765
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Question: I mixed up my talit and tefillin (=t&t)withsomeone else’s in shul. After a few minutes, I realized my mistake and switched them back. When I put on my own t&t, should I have recited the berachot again or was it sufficient that I already made the berachot once?
Answer: The question is not of having to fulfill the mitzva of birkat hamitzva (beracha before performing a mitzva). Rather, every fulfillment of certain mitzvot (including t&t)mustbepreceded by a beracha thatrelatesto it. The question of whether the new act of putting on t&t requires a new beracha does not necessarily depend on whether or not you had just fulfilled these mitzvot and berachot.
There are two factors which might bring one to claim you did not need new berachot; the first applies just for Ashkenazim. The Shulchan Aruch and Rama (Orach Chayim 8:14 and 25: 12) argue in equivalent cases, when one takes off t or t, intending to return them soon thereafter, whether he needs to make a new beracha at that point. The Shulchan Aruch requires a beracha; the Rama does not. In your case, by the time you took off the incorrect t&t, you planned to put on another set promptly, so ostensibly the Rama would not require a new beracha.
Another issue arises from “bad news.” The mitzva of tzitzit applies only when one owns the four-cornered garment. But in this case, you did not realize that you needed to acquire the talit, which you thought was yours (see Yevamot 52b). Thus, the beracha was l’vatala (of no positive value). The matter of the tefillin is less clear. On one hand, we classically assume that one fulfills the mitzva evenwith tefillin borrowed without permission, as permission is assumed (Mishna Berura 25:53). However, in this case, when the owner was about use his tefillin, he did not want you to take them. Thus, your action was unintentional thievery (don’t take it personally), and one does not fulfill the mitzva of tefillin with a stolen pair (Shulchan Aruch 25:12) because it is a mitzva that comes through an aveira. (See a machloket on the question whether a mitzva performed by an unintentional aveira is disqualified in Sdei Chemed IV, pg, 334-6). According to the above, the beracha did not take effect on the first talit and perhaps the tefillin and it is “waiting” for an opportunity to take effect. In a parallel case of one who made a beracha on tefillin whose knot came apart before putting it on, the Taz (25:12) infers from the Beit Yosef that he can fix the knot and put it on without a new beracha,because the beracha is “waiting” for the opportunity to take effect. Here too, the beracha on the talit and perhaps the tefillin had not yet taken effect, so ostensibly the old berachot shouldsuffice for your own t&t.
However, neither of these factors applies to your case because of one basic distinction. In both of those areas, the person made the beracha on the same “mitzva object” with which he continues after a delay. In your case, your beracha was on a different set of t&t. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 8:12) says that if one puts on several talitot,he can make one beracha to cover all, if he does not “break” between them. However, he says that even without a break, the beracha applies to another talit only if he had the intention, at the time of the first beracha, that it should do so. Otherwise, he makes a beracha each time. In your case, you had in mind with your beracha only on the t&t that were in your hands, not on your own set, which you did not realize were elsewhere. Regarding a case of a beracha on one object, which has to be transferred to another object instead (not in addition), we also find that a new beracha is needed, with the first beracha being l’vatala (Shulchan Aruch, OC 206:6; see Halacha Pesuka on Tzitzit 8:(143)). So, in the final analysis, you should have made new berachot..
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This edition of
Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of
Gital Gila bat Eliyahu Michael
R’ Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld o.b.m.,
Yitzchak Eliezer Ben Avraham Mordechai Jacobson o.b.m,