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Shabbat Parashat Ki Tisa| 5771

Ask the Rabbi: What to do about davening when waiting for tefilin

Question: When you don’t have your tefillin and someone will lend his to you during chazarat hashatz, what davening should you be doing while you wait?


Answer: The gemara (Berachot 14b) says that one who says Kri’at Shema without tefillin is like one who says false testimony about himself. Rabbeinu Yona (8a of Rif to Berachot) explains that since he reads in Kri’at Shema the commandment to lay tefillin, it looks bad to read it and not put on tefillin. There are several sources that say that, for positive and/or to avoid negative issues, it is important to have tefillin on during Shemoneh Esrei also (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 25:4; Tosafot, Berachot 14b; see China D’chayei 30). Therefore, people do not give up their tefillin until at least after Shemoneh Esrei and indeed usually not until after Kedusha. So, as you ask, the person waiting will have to choose between davening without tefillin and davening Shemoneh Esrei without a minyan. (Davening at a later minyan that makes the crucial times of tefilla is, of course, best.)

There is close to a contradiction on the matter between critical sources on your question and the standard practice concerning a related one. Many people who go to a late minyan “solve” the problem of missing sof z’man Kri’at Shema by reciting it before shul. Yet, several poskim are bothered by the fact that these people usually do so without tefillin (during the week), which, as we have seen, is a problem. Rav Ovadya Yosef (I, OC 4) justifies the practice by citing those who say that it is not false testimony if one will be putting on tefillin later in the day. (Rav Shlomo Kluger (Ha’elef Lecha Shlomo 47) says that it is legitimate to rely on putting on tefillin later only if that will be during the recitation of Kri’at Shema at the right time.) One can add to the picture the opinion of the Meiri that Kri’at Shema without tefillin is a problem only when it is done in a manner that shows disregard for tefillin and the fact that the whole issue is only rabbinic. Standard practice, thus, is to not be overly concerned about the false testimony when tefillin will be put on later.

In apparent contradiction, the Magen Avraham (66:12) says that if one has to choose between davening Shemoneh Esrei with a minyan and Kri’at Shema and Shemoneh Esrei with tefillin, we choose the tefillin. His main source is reminiscent of the transitive property of inequality. If one comes into Shacharit when the congregation is about to start Shemoneh Esrei, he does not skip straight to Shemoneh Esrei because the importance of tefilla following the mention of geula (redemption) is greater than that of Shemoneh Esrei with a minyan (Shulchan Aruch, OC 111:3). Yet, if one’s tefillin arrive right between geula and tefilla he stops to put them on despite the break (Shulchan Aruch, OC 66:8). Thus, tefillin must certainly be more important than Shemoneh Esrei with a minyan. This proof is suspect because putting on tefillin between geula and tefilla is not necessarily a full break (Maharsham III, 359). We can actually use similar logic in the opposite direction. One can say Kri’at Shema without tefillin in order to do so like vatikin even though many hold that tefilla with a minyan is greater than vatikin (see discussion in Yabia Omer, op. cit.). Thus, there is significant halachic logic to say that one should daven normally and put on the tefillin during chazarat hashatz (see Minchat Yitzchak II, 107, who connects the matter of Kri’at Shema before davening and our question). Yet, it is hard to rule against the Magen Avraham, who is accepted by the Mishna Berura (66:40).

Assuming that one is going to follow the Magen Avraham, some suggest that he should wait until after Yishtabach, which is reasonable since the Rama (OC 54:3) says that one may put on tefillin at that time. However the poskim do not see this as an optimum time and considering that this person is anyway not reciting the critical passages of Kri’at Shema and Shemoneh Esrei with a minyan, it is preferable to wait before starting Baruch She’amar.


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