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Many sources bring down an idea from the Maharil that one should fold their Tallis on Motzai Shabbos in order to immediately start the week with 'being involved in a Mitzvah'. (One such source is the last line of Mishna Berurah 299:40: מהרי"ל היה מקפל הטלית שלו בכל מוצאי שבת כדי להתעסק במצוה מידת, which is based on the Mahari"l at the very end of hilchos shabas that says, "מהר"י סג"ל היה לו טלית מיוחד לשבת והיה כופלו בכל [מוצאי שבת] כי אמר יש להתעסק במצוה בהתחלת ימי החול")

What Mitzvah exactly is one accomplishing by folding their Tallis?

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    Do you have the same question about his practice of building a Sukkah after Yom Kippur to start the year with a Mitzva? What mitzva is that? – Double AA Oct 25 at 15:34
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    @DoubleAA Perhaps, but in my mind, building a Sukkah seems a lot more like a Hechsher Mitzvah than folding a Tallis. Seems to me like it's easier to view building a Sukkah as a Mitzvah than folding a Tallis. But if you're saying that folding the Tallis is some sort of Hechsher Mitzvah for the next time you use it (or some sort of Hiddur/Noi Mitzvah), then that sounds to me like an answer (especially if you can find a source that that's what the Maharil is referring to). – Salmononius2 Oct 25 at 15:52
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    @DoubleAA Why not take the Tur at face value when he says that building a Sukkah is a Mitzvah (OC 625), and this seems to be the simplest reading of Rashi as well (Sukkah 48a מאי), versus the Smag (Asei 27) and Tosfos (Shevuos 25a) who explicitly say it isn’t (Asei 27) – DonielF Oct 25 at 19:17
  • @Doniel because taking them at face value flies in the face of too much else. But anyway it's an even bigger stretch to say this was maharils intention by sukkah but not by tallit. – Double AA Oct 25 at 19:19
  • This may be a "stretch" but perhaps there's a mitzvah of "mosif mekodesh al chol" (extending the holiness of Shabbat to the weekday)? I.e., by taking the tallit which you used on Shabbat and folding it after Shabbat, you're demonstrating this "extension" in a sense? Of ocurse, I don't know what would make the tallit, specifically, such an object for demonstrating this. – DanF Oct 25 at 19:31
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Why not say that you're busy with the Mitzva of התנאה לפניו במצות - beautifying the Mitzva!

A crumpled Tallis will not look very nice next week when you wear it; fold it and it'll look so much nicer.

(And that's why it's not folded; because on Shabbas when you fold it you're improving it, similar to laundering it, and many poskim forbid folding it for that reason. See this Mi Yodea Q&A for lots of opinions.)

That's besides for the Mitzva of וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ - loving your neighbor, which we learn in Kidushin refers (primarily?) to your wife. Since (customarily) she buys you your (first) Tallis; looking after it is considered being nice to your wife; a Mitzva in of itself.

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    I suspect that this is probably more or less the correct answer, but I'm hesitant to give it the checkmark without more concrete sources. You've got my +1 for now, if you can find sources that more directly tie folding the Tallis to Noy Mitzvah/Veahavta Lereiacha Kamocha, then I think this answer would be complete. – Salmononius2 Oct 27 at 20:16
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I seem to recall hearing — but don't remember from whom, I'm afraid — that this is the mitzva of loving your neighbor, since your wife wants your talis put away. Naturally, that would apply only to married men, and only to those whose wives care.

I myself would suggest tentatively that "להתעסק במצוה" doesn't here mean "to fulfill a mitzva" but "to be involved [in this case tangentially] with a mitzva", which I guess has some spiritual value also.

  • But the tallis is already put away, just not folded properly. You can just as easily put it away without properly folding it – robev Oct 27 at 12:47
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    I agree that you're probably right that the 'Mitzvah' mentioned in the question is referring to simply being an action that is tangentially related to another Mitzvah. You've got my +1. – Salmononius2 Oct 27 at 20:19
  • Re the 2nd paragraph, "מתעסק" in the context of שבת and "עסוקים" in the context of גיטין could be some corroboration that yours is a reasonable interpretation of the word. – WAF Oct 28 at 13:25

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