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Shabbat Parashat Chukat | 5768

When Can The Beracha on a Tallit Count for Tzitzit-

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Question: I am a single kohen living in Israel. I, therefore, wear my tallit only for nesi’at kapayim (duchening). When I put on my tzitzit in the morning, should I make a beracha, or should the beracha on the tallit cover the tzitzit?

Answer: First we must understand the halacha that you correctly assume that one who puts on a tallit does not make a beracha when putting on his tzitzit in the morning.

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 8:10) says that one who puts on his tzitzit when his hands are still dirty from the night should put them on without a beracha, which he will recite later. He suggests doing so after purposely handling the tzitzit or when he puts on another pair of tzitzit. The Darchei Moshe (OC 8:3) relates the minhag to make a beracha only on the tallit that he wears for Shacharit, which also covers the smaller pair of tzitzit.

The Mishna Berura (8:24) provides different reasons for the practice to make the beracha only on the tallit and use it to cover the already worn tzitzit. He mentions the Chayei Adam’s (12:4) issue not to make two interchangeable berachot in close proximity. Since one beracha can accommodate multiple tzitzit, an unnecessary second beracha would be a beracha she’eina tzricha (unneeded and thus improper). (The Chayei Adam actually prefers making the beracha on the tzitzit to cover the tallit.) The Darchei Moshe (ibid.) was bothered by the possibility that the mitzva of tzitzit will not be complete (and thereby not warrant a beracha) because often the tzitzit’s garment is too small. Others point out other things that could make a beracha on the tzitzit unnecessary (e.g., the garment’s shape, having had the tzitzit on all night.).

This practice does raise problems. Berachot generally precede the mitzva’s fulfillment; here the beracha comes after the mitzva of tzitzit. Rabbeinu Yonah (cited by the Beit Yosef, OC 8) says that it is sufficient that the beracha precedes part of the performance of the mitzva, in this case, the continuation of their being worn. The Taz (8:9) says that since one cannot put on the tzitzit right away, considering that the hands were dirtied during the night, it is fine to delay the beracha.

The question is whether this system is best even if one will put on his tallit only significantly later, i.e., during chazarat hashatz, prior to duchening. Not only is the concern with two berachot in succession being unnecessary reduced, but the problem of waiting a long time without a beracha being on the tzitzit also increases. Several poskim therefore say that when a long time is expected between the two, one makes a beracha first on the tzitzit and later on the tallit (see Be’er Moshe VI, 4; Tzitzit 8:(52)). Some still prefer one beracha, on the tallit, because of the lingering concern that the tzitzit do not warrant a beracha (Minchat Shlomo II, 4.1.3). This is far from clear; recall that when there is no tallit, we take our chances and make a beracha on the tzitzit. It should also depend if the garment clearly requires tzitzit or not. On the other hand, it is hard to alter minhagim.

It is also not clear what constitutes a long break. Opinions apparenlty range from around an hour to two or three hours (see Minchat Shlomo, ibid.; Piskei Teshuvot 8:16). Therefore, when one waits between tzitzit and tallit from the time he dresses until chazarat hashatz, there is ample justification to prefer either approach on whether to make a beracha on each or make the beracha only on the tallit (if it is his own tallit or he acquires it temporarily before putting it on). One can continue as he was taught or how he has practiced until now. Either way, it is correct to have the proper intention: taking the first approach, intend not to cover the tallit with the beracha on the tzitzit; taking the second approach, have in mind with the beracha on the tallit to cover the tzitzit.



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