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More T’fillin Notes

July 22, 2015

(Continued from here)

I would just like to remind you of some issues relating to the practice of waiting until the afternoon of Tish’a B’av to don t’fillin.

Most Ashk’nazi and S’fardi communities have the practice. In a place where no one else is wearing t’fillin, it would be wrong for one to where t’fillin that morning. Most of us only wear our t’fillin for the morning prayers, and it is not such a stretch to wait for the afternoon to do so, and it would be wrong to openly do unlike the rest of the community. It would also be insensitive.

However, there are places here in Israel, such as at the Kotel Plaza throughout the day of Tish’a B’av, where many men wear t’fillin. The Yemenites, who make up a significant percentage of the congregants at the Kotel, never accepted the practice of not wearing t’fillin that morning, and therefore it would not turn any heads if someone else at the Kotel were to also wear t’fillin that morning. This is according to all opinions, but I would even argue that if the t’fillin-wearing percentage begins to approach what looks like half of those in attendance, it may become obligatory in such a setting to also wear t’fillin. After all, the straight letter of the law is that all men are obligated to wear t’fillin that day, and once it looks like most are doing so, one cannot purposefully refrain from also doing so.

For many, it would be unwise to wait until a late afternoon service, as something may come up, and then they’ll miss both the prayers and wearing t’fillin that entire day. Therefore, those who know that they will be preoccupied during the afternoon and early evening hours, like on-call doctors and emergency responders, should make sure to wear t’fillin as early as possible on Tish’a B’av, and if no one else is wearing t’fillin in the morning, they should wear theirs in private.

As for your follow-up question, it would not seem from the opinions of Rashi, Maimonides, and the Vilna Gaon that one would accomplish anything by wearing two pairs of t’fillin simultaneously, and even if all of the t’fillin had their parashiyoth in the order prescribed by Rashi. Remember, the understanding of their opinion is that the proper way to wear t’fillin is one pair at a time. You ask, but we can wear more than one garment with tzitzith at a time, so why aren’t t’fillin similar? More t’fillin, more mitzwoth, no? I believe that the answer has to do with the nature of the three “Othoth,” the mitzwoth that are the signs of the covenant: the Sabbath, circumcision, and t’fillin. We are bidden to always have two of them on us at all times. Circumcision is always with us, so when the Sabbath day is around, we are specifically not supposed to wear t’fillin. So too, if one is already wearing a proper pair of t’fillin, he has no need for another pair, and perhaps he may not be allowed another pair. One cannot be doubly circumcised, nor can one doubly keep the Sabbath, but he can set aside more of his field for the poor, wear more tzitzith, and bring another offering to the Temple. He can pray as many times a day as he chooses, but the signs are limited to one per customer. 

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From → halacha, original

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