The shulchan aruch apparently writes (by hilchos tzitzis) that one should stand while reciting birchas hamitzvah. Tefillin are a mitzvah. So why is the Sfardic minhag to sit while putting them on and making the brachos?

I have done a little light reading and know the different minhagim which might include sitting for the putting on but standing for the bracha, but it seems that the normative Sfardic minhag (which is sourced in http://www.thehalacha.com/attach/Volume3/Issue4.pdf as the Eishel Avraham Butchatch 25 and 5 sources from kabbalah) has one saying a bracha while seated. The same article actually cites sources which say that an Ashkenazi davening in a Sfardic minyan should sit!

Is this a contradiction or am I missing some nafka mina in the nature of the bracha or the law of standing while making a bracha? I'm looking at this as a dabbler so I apologize if I am asking something obvious.

  • You question would be much improved if you'd explain why you think it might be preferable to say a b'racha while standing.
    – msh210
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 15:58
  • I edited to highlight that my question is on the bracha in light of any S"A statement that brachos on mitzvos should be said standing.
    – rosends
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 16:28
  • What statement? That's what I meant in my previous comment: your question would be much improved if you'd cite a source/reason for saying that it's better to say a b'racha standing.
    – msh210
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 16:46
  • The Shulchan Aruch, orech chaim 8:1 says, when discussing putting on a tallis, that one should do so me'umad. From this, it appears (especially in light of the discussion of challah in the meforshim) that this becomes the rule for any bracha made on a mitzvah. I don't see the explicit statement but others seem to refer to this as a known thing (atlantakollel.org/… paragraph 1).
    – rosends
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 17:08
  • 1
    Who stands before saying the bracha on maror?
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 22, 2013 at 16:06

2 Answers 2


The source for sitting while putting on the tefilin shel yad is Zohar Bemidbar 120:2, according to the Agur Hilchos Tefilin. The Shla rules similarly, basing himself on Yeshayahu 6:1 and Shemos 17:16.

The Ben Ish Chai says one should make the blessing while sitting, and the Magen Avraham says one should stand to make the blessing.

Since the Shulchan Aruch rules about making a brocha while standing, it seems to me that the question is on the Ben Ish Chai's ruling and not on the practice of putting the tefilin on while sitting.


Optional background: The Pnei Yehoshua Megila 21a asks on Rashi's comment that the Mishna permits sitting for megila lechatechila- 'that it would seem that the bracha should also be sitting (PY doesn't exlain why). This goes against the Yerushalmi that the Beis Yosef brings that all blessings on mitzvos are said standing?'

The PY answers by limiting the Yerushalmi to cases where the mitzva is done standing- those that we learn from Omer (Bakama/Bakoma+lecha)*. But mitzos that are done sitting, the Yerushalmi would say to sit for the bracha.

Magen Avraham (OC 8:2) reads the Shulchan Aruch that both the mitzva and bracha of Talis should be done standing and asks from the mishna by chala which implies that an undressed woman may make a bracha if she's sitting. The MA answers that Teruma is not such a mitzva since it's only to fix the food. The PY assumes that his question is both on the bracha and the mitzva and doesn't understand the MA.

My take on the arguement (take it or leave it): The PY holds that while the mitzva is the primary entity, a bracha was established prior to the mitzva, as if they are a single unit. If you sit for the primary mitzva, you sit for the bracha. The Yerushalmi was commenting specifically on the standing mitzvos. The MA holds that while brachos were established prior to mitzvos, they are their own entity of hoda'a (thank You for sanctifying me with this mitzva). We must stand for hoda'a- just like the Yerushalmi says (also, see the end of PY re hallel). [Alternatively, it's an avoda and we stand for avoda- see Bach.] There are a few exceptions like chala, teruma, shechita- where you're not really sanctifying yourself like Talis, etc., your just fixing something in the food so you can eat it. There is still a bracha, but it isn't really a hoda'a, we just keep the same format. So you don't need to stand.

For those who don't want to waste their time: The Pnei Yehoshua says that you look at the mitzva. If the mitzva is sitting, the bracha is sitting. The Magen Avraham holds that you always stand for birchos mitzva (with a handful of exceptions).

It would seem based on Ashkenazi custom by megila (stand then sit) that Ashkenazim go with the Magen Avraham approach. Sepharadim by tefilin seem to use an approach similar to the Pnei Yehoshua.

I would be curious to know what Sepharadim do by megila.

[*Neither the BY's Yerushalmi nor the drasha of Omer appear in our talmudic texts]

  • if one could isolate the "doing of the mitzvah" to the donning of tefillin, then the pnei yehoshua answer would fly in the face of minhagim which have the tefillin donned while seated and the bracha made while standing. but if the ma'aseh of the mitzvah of tefillin is more than that momentary putting on and includes the kiyum of what the S"A demands -- saying shma and the amidah, one standing, one seated, or even that one is might wear them all day, no matter his position, then either sitting or standing would be somewhat a mistake.
    – rosends
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 16:33
  • my minhag is to stand for the beracha of megila Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 16:45
  • @Dan, correct. If you would ask the PY, he would tell you stand for both. (In theory if he held sit for tefilin, he would say sit for both).
    – YDK
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 17:20
  • @l', Are you in the Sepharadi camp? What do you do for tefilin?
    – YDK
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 17:23
  • @YDK it seems that this begs a more theoretical question about the underlying mitzvah of tefillin. is it the putting on, wearing for a brief time, or the wearing while performing other actions. am i yotzei just by putting them on and immediately removing them? if so, why does the S"A require that it be worn for certain parts of davening (hil tefillin 37:2) as a minimum a if the donnning was one mitzvah and the wearing another.
    – rosends
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 17:43

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