7

When it comes to determining the order in which different things happen, there are often rules. According to Zevachim 89a, there are two rules in particular:

  1. That which occurs more frequently takes precedence (כל התדיר מחברו קודם את חברו);
  2. That which is more sacred takes precedence (כל המקודש מחברו קודם את חברו).

When it comes to the relative order of tallit and tefillin every morning, the rule is that one puts on the tallit and only then puts on the tefillin. This is because the tallit is put on every morning, while the tefillin is only worn on non-festive weekdays. In the words of the Kitzur Shulchan Arukh (10:2):

והא דמקדימין את הציצית לתפילין, משום שמצוות ציצית תדירה יותר, שנוהגת בין בחול, בין בשבת ויום טוב, ומצות תפילין אינה נוהגת אלא בחול, וקימא לן תדיר ושאינו תדיר, תדיר קודם

The reason that we precede the tefillin with the tzitzit is because the tzitzit are worn more frequently, since they are used by weekdays, shabbatot and festivals, while tefillin are only used on [non-festive] weekdays. We have a principle that when one thing is more frequent than another, the frequent takes precedence.

However, the Shulchan Arukh also explicitly states (Orach Chayim 25:1) that we put on tefillin after the tallit because of the principle that we should ascend in holiness (מעלין בקודש), which indicates that while the mitzva of tzitzit might be more frequently observed than the mitzva of tefillin, tefillin have greater sanctity.

So, why do we apply rule 1), that an object used more frequently than another takes precedence over it and not rule 2), that the object with greater sanctity takes precedence? Cannot rule 2) be used in order to prioritise tefillin over tzitzit?

  • Can you give a give source as to why כל המקודש מחברו קודם את מחברו should be connected to putting on tefillin? – Laser123 Mar 29 '17 at 23:20
  • 1
    @Laser123 - Nope, but a source saying that it shouldn't would also answer my question! – Shimon bM Mar 29 '17 at 23:24
8

This is a good question, and really it's probably a better question than the answers out there.

For context, we have to realize that this question (order of operations for donning Tzitzit and Tefillin) is a "modern" question which is a side effect of the modern practice of wearing a Tallit and Tefillin exclusively in Shul. In principle, these Mitzvot have nothing to do with each other, and when you want to put on a piece of clothing with Tzitzit you do so and when you want to put on Tefillin you do so. So the order you put them on in would have originally had more to do with how you dress yourself in the morning than anything else. Even today if for some reason you don't want to put on your Tallit yet but you do want to don you Tefillin (eg. you don't have your Tallit available yet, or you're wearing some sort of shirt/jacket which would require you to essentially take your Tallit off again to get the Tefillah Shel Yad in place) then you just don your Tefillin first.

That said, the practice of choosing to don Tzitzit before Tefillin is quite old.

Dagul MeRevava OC 25 addresses your question from Zevachim and answers that since there are other reasons given to have Tzitzit be first (such as its being equated to all the Mitzvot (see Nimmukei Yosef)), we choose rule 1 (as you say).

Arukh haShulchan OC 25:1 says that Ma'alin BaKodesh is applied here to the wearer not the Mitzvot themselves, so again given the option of using rule 1 or 2, we choose rule 1 so as to have our bodies ascend in holiness.

Sha'agat Aryeh 28 basically accepts your premise and says that indeed Tadir is not a good argument. The ordinary rules of how to deal with something Tadir vs. something holier apply, namely (Rambam Temidin 9:2), you can pick whichever you want.

Moreover he notes it's not clear Tzitzit is actually Tadir. According to a fair number of Rishonim, Tzitzit doesn't apply at night while Tefillin does (everyone agrees in practice we abstain from donning Tefillin at night, at least MiDerabanan). Thus Sha'agat Aryeh actually prefers choosing rule 2 because there's no loss since even if Tzitzit is Tadir, you're allowed to choose rule 2 if you want.

R Abadi notes (Or Yitchak 2:22) that Tadir shouldn't even matter here since you aren't obligated to put on a piece of clothing with Tzitzit (if you happen to wear a four cornered garment, you have to attach Tzitzit to it), whereas you are obligated to don the Tefillin (even if for whatever reason you aren't going to wear them every moment of the day). Thus this isn't a case of having to pick between two equal options. (In the opposite vein, the Levush (OC 25:1) argues that Tefillin can't be donned while naked so clearly clothing Mitzvot should precede Tefillin.)

Artzot HaChayim (OC 25:1) notes that Rav Ovadia Bartenura (to Zevachim 10:6) actually rules (unlike the Rambam) that rule 1 precedes rule 2 in general which would answer your question.

In the end, it's important to note the Agur quoted in the Beit Yosef (OC 25) who writes based on the Zohar that Tzitzit should precede Tefillin. In a place where Halakha doesn't give a clear preference, many use Kabbalah to find a preferred practice, and this might be the origin of the old custom which the various reasons above developed around.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .