Why do we make a bracha on tzitzis that do not have techaylas? Since without techaylas we may not be properly fulfilling the mitzvah according to the Torah, then the rule should be "sofek bracha l'kullla", i.e. skip the bracha if it is questionable?

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    It seems like you're conflating "not properly fulfilling the mitzvah" with the concept of safek. What's your basis to assume they're the same? It could be I'm definitely fulfilling the mitzvah, just not in the proper (i.e. ideal) way. Then I could still make the bracha. – Binyomin Jul 12 at 22:22
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    @Binyomin its a machloket rishonim if you fulfill the mitzva at all with just white. – Double AA Jul 12 at 22:52
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    My point is that the source (that it's a machloket) should be included in the question. The question is only solid if there's a strong side to say you're not fulfilling the mitzvah without techeles. So it's important to mention what the opinion is, and how strong is it (an opinion in the gemara? a shita b'rishonim? an opinion in shulchan oruch?) Then we can work on answering the question appropriately. – Binyomin Jul 12 at 22:53
  • @binyomin Those rishonim who hold that you are not fulfilling the mitzvah at all without techayles would clearly not say a bracha. But even those who hold you are fulfilling the mitzvah just not in the proper way , would still have to take into account that there are others who disagree and that creates a sofek since they might be wrong. Then the sofek rule applies and even they should be putting on their taleysim without a bracha So why do we make a bracha at all nowadays on taleysim without techaylas ? – Zev Jul 13 at 13:22
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    The Mishna Berurah actually talks about this with regard to a similar question, checking the tzitzis every day. He says the only reason you have to check is because of the Bracha Levatala, not because of the Bitul Mitzvas Aseh. We can rely on Chazaka. The one shita in Rishonim is k'mi sheeino, and there is no reason to be choshesh for it. The Briskers are only choshesh on Shabbos because of the chamur issur. – talmidforlife Jul 13 at 13:58

The opening Mishnah in Perek Hatecheiles (Menachos 38a) states:

התכלת אינה מעכבת את הלבן והלבן אינו מעכב את התכלת


(Soncino translation; capitals in original)

Rashi there explains:

ואע"ג דמצוה לתת תכלת ב' חוטין בציצית כדמפרש לקמן אפ"ה אין זה מעכב את זה ואי עביד ארבעתן תכלת או ארבעתן לבן יצא

And even though the commandment is to place two strings of techeiles on the tzitzis as is explained later on, even so they do not depend on each other. And if someone made [all] four [strings] techeiles or [all] four [strings] white he has discharged his obligation.

While this is actually subject to dispute (by tannaim and rishonim) those who make a blessing on tzitzis without techeiles are following this rule, which is codified as the law by Rambam in Hilchos Tzitzis 1:4:

והתכלת אינו מעכב את הלבן והלבן אינו מעכב את התכלת כיצד הרי שאין לו תכלת עושה לבן לבדו

The [absence of] techelet does not prevent [the mitzvah from being fulfilled with] the white strands, nor does the [absence of] the white strands prevent [the mitzvah from being fulfilled with] techelet.

What is implied? A person who does not have techelet should make [tzitzit] from white strands alone.

(Touger translation)

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According to (almost) all Rishonim, the Mitzvot of Techelet and Lavan are not Meakev each other (i.e., you can do one without the other), based on the Mishnah in Masechet Menachot. There is only one (that I know of) Rishon who disagrees, the Baal Hamaor (on Rif in Masechet Shabbat). He is said to have never worn tzitzit in his life for this reason. Rav Yerucham Fishel Perla, on Rabbi Saadya Gaon's Sefer Hamitzvot, writes that if both were to be available, it would be a Bal Tigra not to wear one of them. Nevertheless, if we don't have techelet, it is not a Bal Tigra.

So, what is the status of a Tzitzit with just Lavan? The Mishna Berurah (on Hilchot Tzitzit) and Rav Soloveichik (Reshimot Shiurim) both write that it is a Mitzvah, but not Beshelemutah, it is not complete. It would be the same as saying one Shema per day, according to the Rambam. A Mitzvah not Beshelemutah is not enough to be Docheh a Lav (to override a negative commandment - here it would be Shatnez), but it is still a very big Mitzvah. It is a Mitzvah Deorayta (from the Torah) still. Regarding the question about not wearing white Tzitzit outside an Eruv (Brisk does not even rely on Eiruvin), but still making a Bracha on it, it is a very important question. I once had the opportunity to ask someone from a Brisker family and he explained they were Machmir on an Issur Sekila (a sin which has a punishment of stoning, here the desecration of shabbat), but not on Bracha Levatala (a blessing in vain). Bracha Levatala is a safek (doubt) if it is deorayta (from the Torah) or derabanan (From the Rabbis) - and definitely not an issur sekila.

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    Would you consider translating a few Hebrew expressions that have a proper English equivalent? Site policy on jargon – Kazi bácsi Jul 13 at 8:00
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    yes, sure, just did so. – talmidforlife Jul 13 at 13:06
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    @talmudforlife : thank you for your answer. I am correct that the Brisker do say a bracha on all white taleysim then ? – Zev Jul 13 at 17:16
  • From what I heard, yes. – talmidforlife Jul 13 at 17:59

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