I have been putting on tefilin shel Rashi for many years and a friend recently said I should start putting on Tefilin Rabenu Tam as well. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch says that only the especially pious put on tefilin shel Rabenu Tam and one should be careful not to appear arrogant ("tzidkut yeter")

Does the upside of purchasing and wearing tefilin shel Rabenu Tam outweigh the risk of appearing arrogant (and also having to explain to people that I am still a Litvak and not a Chabadnik...)

  • Page 2, esp. second column cckollel.org/parsha_encounters/5767/bo.pdf
    – rosends
    Mar 1, 2017 at 11:22
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    Couldn't you just put them in private and avoid the issue of arrogance entirely?
    – mevaqesh
    Mar 1, 2017 at 14:30
  • According to the kitzur shulchan Arukh, apparently it doesn't outweigh the risk. What else are you looking for?
    – Double AA
    Mar 1, 2017 at 14:34
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    Consider clarify what you are looking for. Are you looking for sources that discuss whether or not something is haughty? Those seem completely useless since whether something is considered haughty is completely a funtion of time and place. | Are you only looking for sources that assume that it is haughty and therefore stat e that it should be avoided, or nevertheless condone the practice?
    – mevaqesh
    Mar 1, 2017 at 16:44
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    @DannyLieberman In short, the traditional position is that arrogance would outweigh the benefits, and then you have to decide in your local context if any given action appears arrogant. Certainly the popular Chasidish practice represents a departure from the classical practice (even if, at least by now, it has become defensible). IMHO if you aren't at a level where you could figure this all out on your own, then you aren't at a level where, at least classically, you'd have considered wearing RT Tefillin. Whether to adopt the Chasidish reforms is a separate general issue.
    – Double AA
    Mar 8, 2017 at 19:02

3 Answers 3


This is an except from an excellent treatment of the subject taken from Rabbi Avi Zakutinsky who is affiliated with the OU on halachablog (see there for more).

The Shulchan Aruch (34:3) rules that Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin should be worn only by one who is known to be a very pious person. The Mishnah Berurah explains that it is a sign of haughtiness for anyone else to do this because the accepted practice is to wear only Rashi Tefillin. This led to the custom among many ashkenazim not to wear Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin.

Many chassidim and sefardim have the custom to wear Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin. Some explain that since today many people wear these tefillin, it is no longer considered a sign of haughtiness (see Yalkut Yosef vol. 1 page 46, shu”t Chaim Shaul 1, Birkei Yosef 34, shu”t Minchas Yitzchak 6:7, Yabia Omer 9:108).

In addition, the Teshuva Me’ahava (cited in the sefer Os Chaim V’Shalom 34:9) explains that one does not need to be pious to wear Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin [after wearing Rashi Tefillin]. He feels that the restriction of the Shulchan Aruch was only for wearing both Rashi Tefillin and Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin at the same time. Wearing Rabbeinu Tam Tefillin after wearing Rashi Tefillin would be permitted according to all authorities.

(emphasis added)

  • 1
    So the answer to his question "Does the upside of purchasing and wearing tefilin shel Rabenu Tam outweigh the risk of appearing arrogant" is a firm NO. The risk of appearing arrogant does outweigh any benefit. All that remains to be seen is if any given circumstance appears as arrogance, which is an entirely local issue about which no general statement can be made.
    – Double AA
    Mar 1, 2017 at 16:44
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    – Isaac Moses
    Mar 1, 2017 at 20:36

The Shulchan Oruch 34 (3) is clear that

לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה כֵן(16) אֶלָּא מִי שֶׁמֻּחְזָק וּמְפֻרְסָם בַּחֲסִידוּת.‏

Only someone who is well-known and established as being pious should wear Rabbeinu Tam's tefillin.

Mishna Berura says (16)

טז) כן - היינו אפילו אם ירצה להניחם רק אחר התפלה וכתב הבה"ט באיש אחד שהיה נוהג להניח תפילין דר"ת לאחר התפלה בפרהסיא בפני הקהל אי מחזי כיוהרא פסק בתשובת מהר"ש הלוי דמחזי כיוהרא וצריך שיבטל מנהגו וכ"כ בתשו' שבות יעקב ח"ב סימן מ"ד שאפילו אם מקצת עושין יש בו משום יוהרא ואם מניחן בפני אדם גדול שאין נוהג להניחן כ"א בקרב ביתו ודאי מחזי כיוהרא ע"ש: ‏

That is even if he wants to put them on after the prayers. The Beir Heiteiv quotes a teshuva that someone who used to put on the tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam after prayers in public in front of the community is considered as arrogant and should abandon his custom. Another teshuva says that even if a number of people do this, there is still a danger of arrogance. And if he puts them on in front of a “great man” who only puts them on in the privacy of his own house, he is certainly considered arrogant.

So it seems that you must be careful to avoid arrogance. But to put the tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam on in private at home would seem to be no problem.

There is a concept of קרקפתא דלא מנח תפילין (a skull on which tefillin were never put). The Gemoro Rosh Hashono 17a says that such a person is considered someone who sins with his body. My Rav of many years ago told me that to avoid the problem of being a קרקפתא דלא מנח תפילין I should be sure to put on Rabbeinu Tam's tefillin at least once in my life.1

1. He did not address whether the same concern applies to any of the other possible permutations of tefillin, and I didn't ask about that.

  • 1
    I should be sure to put on Rabbeinu Tam's tefillin at least once in my life. What about the dozens of other permutations of Tefillin?
    – mevaqesh
    Mar 1, 2017 at 16:46
  • @mevaqesh What can I tell you? That's what he said; I did not ask him further. Mar 1, 2017 at 16:47
  • It's not entirely obvious to me that Yuhara can't apply when doing something in private.
    – Double AA
    Mar 1, 2017 at 20:49
  • @DoubleAA See din.org.il/wp-content/uploads/newsletter/he_71.pdf ממקורות אלו ברור, לכאורה, שלא שייך חשש יוהרא ביחידות. כל החשש הוא מה שנוהג הנהגה הניכרת לאחרים כיוצאת דופן, ובאופן שאין היכר בדבר אין בכך איסור. Mar 1, 2017 at 21:12
  • but consider judaism.stackexchange.com/a/43864/759 din.org can certainly take a position, but it's not entirely obvious that it's true. R Aharon Lichtenstein once compared it to the internal pride of some character in a poem of Tennyson's I believe, but I don't recall which one. There's a feeling of pride when you are strict and better-than-everyone in private too which may not be a healthy Jewish feeling.
    – Double AA
    Mar 1, 2017 at 21:14

I want to point two details in your question.

  1. The fact that you know that one who wears RTT can be perceived as arrogant,
  2. and the fact that you are in a community (lituanian) in which a large majority of men wear Rashi's Tefilin only. So your question is not for, e.g. a young Chasidish Avrech who started to wear RTT after marriage. He is perfectly conformist and without doubt not arrogant. He makes nothing new, nothing that we can not expect. Perhaps the contrary would be strange.

Shulchan Aruch OC 34, 3:

לא יעשה כן אלא מי שמוחזק ומפורסם בחסידות:‏

Needs to do this only a person recognized for his devotion.

From the Bet Yosef and Darke Moshe in the Siman we learn tha this statement is extracted from a Shut Maharil. The issue is to wear the two, RTT and Rashi T. together. This cannot may be discreet. So the word of Bet Yosef regard the problem of a public wearing of Rabenu Tam Tefilin. In this case we can understand why the Baer Heytev adresses again the question. The BH addresses an other practice: to wear the RTT at the end of the prayer, alone, after Removing Rashi Tefilin.

Baer Heytev:

נשאלתי על איש אחד שהיה נוהג להניח תפילין של ר"ת לאחר התפלה בפרהסיא בפני הקהל אי מיחזי כיוהרא. פסק בתשובת מהר"ש הלוי דמיחזי כיוהרא וצריך שיבטל מנהגו. וכ"כ בתשובת שבות יעקב ח"ב סי' מ"ד שאפי' אם מקצת עושין יש בו משום יוהרא ואם מניחן בפני אדם גדול שאין נוהג להניחם כי אם בקרב ביתו ודאי מחזי כיוהרא ע"ש.‏

I received a question about a man, who used to wear RTT after the prayer, in front of everyone. is it considered as a manner to brag?

The answer in Teshuvat Maharash Halevi is that this is regarded as a kind of boasting, and he hav to stom this habit. Ther is a similar answer in Teshuvot Shevut Yaakov, part II, number 44, and he added that even if he is not alone, but few people make this, there is a problem of boasting. Additionally, if he wear RTT in front of a great man who prefer to wear them at home, there is obviously a problem of boasting.

We learn that the problem of brag is only in front of other people who has not this habit. The fact to wear RTT at home doesn't present problem of Yuhara, but, the chumra needs to be proportional to the general level of the person.

It seems from the above shut reporting, that the context is very important. For example, nowadays in Israel in a shtible, if you see someone wearing RTT, everyone will think that he is chasidish or in any group who has the minhag to wear RTT, he only makes as his friends and / or family. You can judge the thing only in the context you are. E.G. if a given morning, in a lituanian Yeshiva, a lituanian Bochur decide to wear RTT in front of the Rosh Yeshiva, the question of Yuhara will be actual.

purchasing and wearing tefilin shel Rabenu Tam outweigh the risk of appearing arrogant ---> no, if it is made discretly.

  • corrected an error.
    – kouty
    Mar 2, 2017 at 9:23

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