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Is it enough to use my fingers to figure out if the teffilin is between my eyes, or am I halachically required to use a mirror in order to ensure that it is?

I faintly remember a sugya in Ketuvot where the question of "Ika Levrurei" (the ability to check) came up, where if there is a possibility to check something, one may not rely on Chazakah. Does this apply?

(I am not talking about using a mirror and their issue regarding Lo Tilbash.)

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    Are you saying that despite initially knowing the tefillin is in the right place, should you check davka with a mirror or can you rely on your fingers? – Shoel U'Meishiv May 12 '15 at 18:52
  • Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/47429 – msh210 May 12 '15 at 19:18
  • how is that related at all? – user9410 May 12 '15 at 19:28
  • @MOKAY Try reading the referenced responsum :) – Double AA May 12 '15 at 20:03
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    @DoubleAA why the edit?? i was shouting! – user9410 May 12 '15 at 20:12
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HaRav Yitzhaq Yosef in his Qitzur Shulhhan Arukh, Yalqut Yosef (Orahh Hayim 27:4) states (my translation/emphasis):

מותר להסתכל בראי כדי לראות אם התפילין של ראש מונחין במקומן. ומכל מקום אין צריך להקפיד בזה כל כך, ודי שיבדוק כפי מה שיש ביכולתו שהתפילין יהיו מונחין במקומן, שלא יטה לצדדין. וכן צריך שיהיה הקשר של התפילין (של ראש) באמצע.

It is permitted to look in the mirror to see if the tefillin shel rosh are in their proper place. Nevertheless, one need not be so stringent about this, and it suffices for one to check according to ones ability that the tefillin are in their proper place so that they don't tilt to the sides. So, too, the knot of the tefillin (shel rosh) should be in the center.

  • hes talking about the issur of Lo Tilbash, which looking at a mirror acc. to many shitot is. im asking whether one is mechuyav to use it – user9410 May 12 '15 at 19:56
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    While you are right that he is addressing Lo Tilbash, he also clearly states that it suffices for one to check one's tefillin with one's hand and one need not be so stringent as to check them in the mirror. – Lee May 12 '15 at 19:58
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    That is precisely the only section I highlighted...? – Lee May 12 '15 at 19:59
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    Summarize my point? The se'if is three sentences long...?! – Lee May 12 '15 at 20:27
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    the knot being in the centre is easy to detect by your sense of touch. There is a bone there and you can feel if the knot is touching it. – CashCow May 13 '15 at 9:47
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Rav Binyomin Zilber (Oz Nidberu) saw me using the mirror in yeshiva for this purpose and called me over to chastise me. He insisted that using one's fingers was sufficient and it was better not to use a mirror.

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I heard R. Nota Greenblatt say that using a tefillin mirror is a way of announcing that you are an ignoramus.

  • Interestingly I wondered about a story involving his rebbi the Brisker Rov using one. Given that R. Greenblatt was a member of the BR's minyan I asked him if the BR used a mirror, but he told me that he never saw the BR donning his tefillin. Evidently, however, he didn't use one in the course of his davening. – mevaqesh May 12 '15 at 23:46
  • Also one must remember that according to some (mostly historical) poskim it is prohibited for a man to ever use a mirror. (IIRC this includes the Rambam). Obviously according to them a mirror isnt necessary when donning tefillin. – mevaqesh May 12 '15 at 23:48
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"אהיה קרוי 'בור' ומצות תפילין אקיים"...

נוהג היה הגאון רבי יצחק יעקב ווייס זצ"ל, בעל ה"מנחת יצחק", להתרפא במעיינות הישועה שבעיר קרעניץ. שם גם קשר קשרי-ידידות עם עוד גדולי ישראל שאף הם באו לפוש ולהתרפא, וביניהם מרן הגרי"ז מבריסק זצ"ל.

מאותם ימים, רגיל היה בעל ה"מנחת יצחק" לספר שהרב מבריסק נוהג היה להתבונן בראי קטן כדי לראות האם התפילין-של-ראש מונחים במקומם.

"הדבר חרה לאחד החסידים מבאי בית-הכנסת, שלדעתו לא היה זה מדרך החסידות להסתכל במראה, כידוע מתשובת בעל ה"דברי חיים" (שו"ת "דברי חיים" חלק ב, או"ח סימן ו), שכתב: "אם לראות במראה שהתפילין יהיו באמצע - הוא דברי בורות". הלך אותו חסיד ו'החרים' את הראי של הרב מבריסק...

אמר לו הרב מבריסק: "הן חסיד אתה, ומחמת חסידותך עשית זאת - הבה אספר לך סיפור חסידים. וממקום שבאת לטעון כנגדי - מהגאון בעל ה"דברי חיים" מצאנז בעצמו, מדידיה אדידיה! "פעם ישן מרן ה'דברי חיים' בסוכתו, וגשמי זעף התחילו לרדת עד שהכרים והכסתות התמלאו במים. וכידוע, 'המצטער פטור מן הסוכה', ו'כל הפטור מדבר ועושהו נקרא הדיוט'. אבל ה'דברי חיים' לא הלך לביתו. הוא נשאר בסוכה מתחת למטרות העז, וצעק: 'אהיה קרוי הדיוט - ומצות סוכה אקיים!'.

סיים הגאון מבריסק: אף אני אומר לך, אמנם ה'דברי חיים' כתב שלהסתכל במראה הוא מנהג בורות - אבל מוכן אני שאהיה קרוי בשם 'בור' ומצות תפילין אקיים בהידורה..."

http://www.yeshiva.org.il/midrash/11860

In summary, a certain Chassidic individual in the shul of the Minchas Yitzchak, Rabbi Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss, excommunicated the mirror of Rabbi Yitzchak Zev Soleveitchik that the latter used to ensure his Tefilin were in the correct place.

This was based on the Teshuva of the דברי חיים that using a mirror is brutish. R. Soliveitchik's response was "I see you are motivated by being Chassidic. I will tell you a Chassidic story - about the דברי חיים himself.

"Once he was sitting in his Sukka, and it was raining extremely hard and filling the plates and cups with water. As is known, one is exempt from Sukka in that circumstance and someone who does it anyway is called a simpleton. But the דברי חיים didn't go into his house and said 'Let me be called a simpleton, but the Mitzvah of Sukka I will fulfill.'"

R. Soleveitchik concluded: "The דברי חיים says that using a mirror is brutish - let me be called a brute and fulfill the Mitzvah of Tefilin beautifully."

  • The brisker rov used a mirror although the sanzer rov says it is 'buros' @MOKAY I am not sure of the exact translation of that. He replied I would rather be a 'bur' and have the tfilling on properly. – cham May 12 '15 at 19:44
  • So your question is a machlokes Brisk and Sanz. So depending if you are chosid or litvak you know what to do. – cham May 12 '15 at 19:58
  • @cham any source for the BR wearing tefillin? – mevaqesh May 12 '15 at 23:49
  • Please explain @mevaqesh – cham May 13 '15 at 5:10
  • Thank you very much for the summary @yishai. A pity you cant translate the whole story. I would not translate 'bur' brutish. Because it has 'bur' in Hebrew doesnt mean it has to have it also in English! – cham May 13 '15 at 15:21
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In sefer v'yismah Moshe,Rav Elyashiv was asked this question and he said a mirror is mutar for teffilin since the idea of a mirror has changed and is not considered a tachsit of women nowadays . Interestingly, there is a picture in gedolei yisroel portraits of greatness on page 65 showing Rav elyashiv l'shitoso using a mirror for tefillin.

The fact he used a mirror shows he held it was better than using ones fingers.

  • am I allowed to post the picture which c9mes from that book,or is that a copyright issue? – sam Feb 6 '17 at 18:27

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