The gemarah says that to wear tefillin a person needs to have a clean body like Elisha baal kenafayim (shabbat 49a). How does the gemara know that Elisha had a clean body?

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    Because he wore tefillin! :-) Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 18:35
  • This link has a long explanation based on the Neis that happened. torahdoc.free.fr/torahdoc/[1]%20Parasha/Rav%20Friedman/5771/… Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 18:53
  • @GershonGold it doesn't actually answer the question, merely connects the idea that a guf naki is needed for tefillin and that the dove brought a branch. It's pretty weak in my humble opinion; there are much nicer explanations for the aggada Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 19:36
  • baal kenafayim? is that "master of wings?" Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 20:02
  • @ClintEastwood Yes -- the story where he is mentioned (see link in question) was in the time that it was a capital crime to wear tefillin, but he did so anyway [see tosfos et al on how he was allowed to do that] ....one time a Roman officer saw him wearing tefillin and he ran for it; when he was eventually caught he had taken off his tefillin, and when asked what he was holding he responded "dove's wings;" when he opened his hands he had dove's wings there, miraculously
    – MTL
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 22:11

2 Answers 2


Tosfos answer, because a miracle occurred for the sake of his wearing tefillin. Only if he were wearing tefillin properly, i.e. with a clean body, would he merit such a miracle.

  • from the simple reading of the gemarah it doesn't seem that he was wearing the shel yad
    – user6641
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 19:14
  • @user6641 No, the shel yad was probably just covered so it wasn't obvious that he was wearing it. Besides, I don't see why that would be relevant anyway - even if he was only wearing the shel rosh, he clearly kept himself clean to merit a miracle Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 19:32
  • not sure how that is connected. Isn't it possible that he merited a miracle for any number of other reasons, especially his mesiras nefesh for the mitzvah? doesn't that seem to be the point of the story?
    – user6641
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 20:54
  • @user6641 No, because the miracle was done specifically with his tefillin, which God would not have done if he wasn't careful with keeping them clean (even if he was moser nefesh, if he didn't keep his body clean than he would be insulting the mitzvah anyway) Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 20:57
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    @Matt we're trying to prove that you need a guf naki for tefillin. It's like saying that we need a guf naki when running from jail, and bring a proof that a miracle happened with Bruria Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 22:38

I think you are misunderstanding the Gemara. You are taking it that we know that Tefillin require a Guf Naki from Elisha Baal Kenafaim. The point, however is different. It is that the Guf Naki has to be to the degree that Elisha Baal Kenafaim had one, to the point where he merited the miracle. It is an emphasis on how careful you have to be with it, not the source of the concept.

  • ah ha! Now I finally understand all of the comments! I merely read the question as Tosfos' question, not as a question of source (which I had known wasn't the Gemara's intent at all). Sadly now I have to undo my upvote of the question... Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 22:47

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