Holding the Tzitzis during Davening

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Holding the Tzitzis during Davening: [1]

See end of this Halacha for a summary of the practical Chabad custom!

A. Holding the Tzitzis by Baruch Sheamar:[2]

One is to hold the two front Tzitzis of his Tallis while reciting Baruch Sheamar [from beginning to end[3]].[4] [The Tzitzis is held in one’s left hand. At the conclusion of the blessing one passes the Tzitzis over his eyes and kisses them.[5] The Rebbe was witnessed to first take hold of the Tzitzis in his left hand and then to pass it to his right hand, kissing the Tzitzis while they are in his right hand.]

 

B. Holding the Tzitzis by Kerias Shema

It is a Mitzvah to hold the Tzitzis[6] in one’s left hand, in the area corresponding to the heart, during the reading of the Shema [in Shacharis].[7]

How to hold:[8] Some Poskim[9] rule one is to hold the Tzitzis between the pinky [finger 5] and ring finger [finger 4] of the left hand. [The Chabad custom is to hold the Tzitzis between the pinky and the ring finger and then to cross the strings over the ring and middle finger [fingers 4 and 3] and then pass the strings between the middle finger and the index finger [fingers 3-2].[10] See picture at end of this Halacha. Others[11] have the custom to wrap the Tzitzis around one’s pinky.]

Vayomer:[12] When one reaches the Parsha of Tzitzis [Vayomer] he is take hold of the Tzitzis with his right hand and look at them.[13] [The Gedil/braid of the Tzitzis however remains in his left hand until the words “Nemanim Venechmadim Laad”, and he is only to take the fringes in his right hand.[14]]

Ureisem Oso: Some are accustomed to look at the Tzitzis upon saying the word Ureisem Oso and place the Tzitzis over their eyes. Doing so is a good custom, and shows one’s love for the Mitzvah.[15] They are also accustomed to kiss the Tzitzis upon looking at them. All this is done to show one’s love for the Mitzvah.[16] One is to touch and look at the two front Tzitzis.[17] [Practically, it is not the Chabad custom to place the Tzitzis over the eyes or kiss them upon saying the word Ureisem.[18] However by Ureisem Oso one is to take hold of the two middle Tzitzis with his right hand.[19] The Rebbe was not witnessed to do anything upon reciting the words Ureisem; neither to kiss, look or hold the two middle Tzitzis.[20]]

Looking at the Tzitzis: As stated above, one is to look at the Tzitzis when he begins the Parsha of Vayomer[21], and some also do so upon saying the word Ureisem.[22] [Some[23] write one is to remain looking at the Tzitzis throughout the entire period of reciting Vayomer.] When looking at the Tzitzis [during the above times] one is to look specifically at the two front Tzitzis.[24] [Some[25] write that when one looks at his Tzitzis he should have in mind to fulfill the positive Mitzvah of “Ureisem Oso”. The Rebbe was not witnessed to specifically look at the Tzitzis anytime during Shema.[26]]

Kissing the Tzitzis: Some are accustomed to kiss the Tzitzis by the words Ureisem Oso. All this is done to show one’s love for the Mitzvah.[27] The Tzitzis are likewise kissed by the words “Venechmadim Laad”.[28] [Some are accustomed to also kiss the Tzitzis by the words “Velo Sasuru” [29], by the three words of Tzitzis[30], and by the word Emes[31]. The Chabad custom is to kiss the Tzitzis six times throughout the Shema at the following places: 1) Tzitzis, 2) Tzitzis 3) Tzitzis; 4) Emes; 5) Kayemes; 6) La’ad. The Chabad custom is to pass the Tzitzis over the eyes before kissing them.[32] The Rebbe was witnessed to pass the Tzitzis first over the right eye and then over the left eye and then kiss it.]

Letting go of the Tzitzis:[33] The Tzitzis are to remain in one’s hands until one reaches the words “Nemanim Venechmadim Laad”. At that point one is to kiss the Tzitzis and remove them from his hand. [Some[34] write that one is to hold the Tzitzis in both his left and right hands until the word La’ad. However the Rebbe was witnessed to let go of the Tzitzis from his right hand immediately after kissing them by the last word “Tzitzis”, the braid however remained in his left hand, between the pinky and ring finger, until Nemanim Venechemadim.]

 

Summary of the practical Chabad custom of holding the Tzitzis:

Baruch Sheamar:[35] While saying Baruch Sheamar one holds the two front Tzitzis with the left hand. At the conclusion of the blessing one passes the Tzitzis over his eyes and kisses them. [The Rebbe was witnessed to first take hold the Tzitzis in his left hand and then to pass it to his right hand and kiss the Tzitzis while they are in his right hand.]

Shema:[36] At the phrase beginning “Vehavienu Leshalom” one brings the two front Tzitzis together; one then adds the Tzitzis at the back left side, to the left of the two front Tzitzis; and one then adds the remaining back-right Tzitzis, to the right of the two front Tzitzis. All four Tzitzis, following the above order, are then held together between the pinky and the ring finger [fingers 5-4]. One then crosses the strings over the ring and middle finger [fingers 4 and 3] and passes the strings between the middle finger and the index finger [fingers 3-2]. See picture at end of this Halacha. The Tzitzis are to be held near the heart. When one reaches the Parsha of Tzitzis [Vayomer] one takes hold of the loose strings of the Tzitzis with his right hand, having the Gedil of the Tzitzis remain in the left hand [and looks at them]. [One holds it in this manner until the words “Nemanim Venechmadim Laad”.] One passes the Tzitzis over his eyes and kisses the Tzitzis at the following places: 1) Tzitzis, 2) Tzitzis 3) Tzitzis; 4) Emes; 5) Kayemes; 6) La’ad. After the final kissing by the word La’ad one is to let the Tzitzis go from his hand. One does not place the Tzitzis over the eyes or kiss them upon saying the word Ureisem Oso [although when he reaches those words he is to take hold of the two middle Tzitzis with his right hand]. [After kissing the Tzitzis by the word La’ad, one lets the Tzitzis go from his hands.]

 

Q&A

When by Shema is one to begin to take hold of the Tzitzis?

Some Poskim[37] rule that one is to begin taking hold of the Tzitzis by the words “Meiarba Kanfos Haaretz”. Others[38] are accustomed to take hold of the Tzitzis by the words “Maher Vehavo Aleinu”. The Chabad custom is to begin to take hold of the Tzitzis at the phrase of “Vehavieinu Leshalom”.[39]

 

How many Tzitzis is one to hold during Shema?

Some[40] write one is to hold onto only the two front Tzitzis. The Arizal however writes that one is to hold all four Tzitzis[41], and so is the Chabad custom.[42]

 

How is a lefty to hold the Tzitzis?[43]

A lefty is to hold the Tzitzis in his left hand, just as is done by one who is right handed.[44]

 

If one is wearing glasses, is he to pass the Tzitzis under his glasses, over his actual eyes, prior to kissing them?[45]

It is implied from the Poskim that the Tzitzis are to touch the actual eyelids.

 

Is one to take hold of the Tzitzis when reciting Shema in the morning prior to Davening?[46]

Some are accustomed to do so while others are not.

 

Is a blind person r”l to place the Tzitzis by his eyes during Shema?[47]

Some Poskim[48] rule he is not to pass the Tzitzis over his eyes, as doing so appears like he is mocking himself. Others[49] rule he is to follow the same order as everyone else, and pass the Tzitzis over his eyes, and so is the ruling according to Kabala. According to all, he is to hold and kiss the Tzitzis just as is done by everyone else.

 

The great effect of passing the Tzitzis over the eyes during Shema:[50]

It is brought in the name of the early Sages[51] that whoever passes the Tzitzis over his eyes during the Parsha of Vayomer is guaranteed not to become blind.

 

   

 

Folding the Tallis Gadol after Davening:

Which hand?[52] The Tallis is to be removed using the left hand.

When: One is to fold the Tallis immediately after Davening.[53] The Tallis should not be left rolled up in an unfolded position. It certainly should not remain unfolded throughout the night.[54] If one forgot to fold his Tallis until the next morning, then the next day, prior to wearing the Tallis, he is to shake it towards the ground.[55]

Who?[56] It is proper to personally fold one’s Tallis rather than give it to someone else to fold.

How:[57] The Tallis is to be folded while one is standing.

 


[1] 24/5-7

[2] Admur 51/2; M”A 51/1; Arizal in Shaar Hakavanos, brought in Kaf Hachaim 48/1

[3] Arizal ibid

[4] The reason: As from Baruch Sheamar, the Divine ray of the two front Tzitzis begin to shine. [Or Tzaddikim] Baruch Sheamar and the two front Tzitzis are both rooted in the world of Yetzira. [Arizal ibid]

[5] Sefer Haminhagim p. 22 [English]

[6] See Q&A regarding how many Tzitzis one is to hold

[7] Admur 24/4; Michaber 24/3; Hagahos Maimanis Tzitzis 3/80; Midrash Tehillim 35b

The reason: This is hinted to in the verse “Vehaya Hadevarim Haeileh Al Levavcha”. [ibid]

[8] Admur 24/4

[9] M”A 24/1 in name of Rav Michal of Arptchik; Birkeiy Yosef brought in Kaf Hachaim 24/9 that so is the custom; not explicitly mentioned in Arizal or Siddur Rashash; see Kaf Hachaim ibid

[10] Sefer Haminhagim p. 24 [English]

The Rebbe’s custom: The Rebbe was witnesses to pass the Tzitzis over fingers 2-4 and hold the Tzitzis between the index and the thumb [fingers 4-5], hence it would cross over three fingers not two.

[11] Maharshal in Yam Shel Shlomo Yevamos 1/3 that “So is the custom of the meticulous, and it has a great source in Kabala”; Birkeiy Yosef 24/1; Ashel Avraham Butchach 24; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 24 footnote 33

[12] Admur 24/4; M”A 24/1 in name of Arizal; Ketzos Hashulchan 19/25

[13] Admur ibid; Some write one is to remain looking at the Tzitzis throughout the entire period of reciting Vayomer. [Arizal in Shaar Hakavanos p. 27b; Kaf Hachaim 24/8]

[14] Arizal in Shaar Hakavanos p. 27b “When one begins Vayomer he is to take hold of the Tzitzis also in his right hand, leaving the roots in the left hand”; Kaf Hachaim 24/8; Ketzos Hashulchan 19/25; Custom of Rebbe as witnessed by congregants; See Sefer Haminhagim p. 24 [English] of the custom of the Rebbe Rashab “They were held [in the left hand] throughout the Shema, including the stages when they were kissed.

Other opinions: Some Poskim write that at Vayomer one is to hold the Tzitzis only in the right hand. [P”M 24 A”A 1; See Kaf Hachaim ibid that negates this ruling.]

[15] Admur 24/6; Michaber 24/4 regarding looking and placing over eyes

[16] Admur 24/6; Rama 24/4 regarding kissing

[17] Admur 61/24 “It is a good custom to touch the Tefillin and Tzitzis upon mentioning their Mitzvah in Shema. Thus when one says “Ureisem Oso” one is to touch the two front Tzitzis and look at them, as explained in chapter 24”; Michaber 61/25

[18] See Sefer Haminhagim p. 24 [English]; The Rebbe was not witnessed to kiss the Tzitzis or pass them over his holy eyes upon saying the word “Ureisem Osam”

[19] Sefer Haminhagim p. 24 as was seen by the Rebbe Rashab, and as explicitly written in Admur 61/24

[20] As seen in videos of the Rebbe; Reply of Rav Groner “It was very difficult to observe these moments, but from my observations, as much as I was able to see, he did not [even look at the Tzitzis]”

[21] 24/4

[22] 24/6

[23] Arizal in Shaar Hakavanos p. 27b; Kaf Hachaim 24/8

[24] 24/7; Michaber 24/5

The reason: As they contain 10 knot which hint to the ten Sefiros which are tied and attached to each other. [Admur ibid; M”A 24/2 in name of Rekanti] They also have 16 strings and 10 knots which add up to 26 and is the numerical value of the name Havayah. [Admur ibid; Michaber ibid]

Other opinions: Some Poskim write that in the Parsha of Vayomer, and when looking at the Tzitzis upon wearing the Tallis one is to look at all four Tzitzis. [Kaf Hachaim 24/20 based on Arizal]

[25] Chesed Lealafim 24/2; Kaf Hachaim 24/16

[26] As seen in videos of the Rebbe Davening; In reply to the question “Is there any time in Shema that our custom is to look at the Tzitzis, [other than prior to kissing them]?” Rabbi Groner replied “It was very difficult to observe these moments, but from my observations, as much as I was able to see, he did not”

[27] Admur 24/6; Based on this, some are accustomed to also kiss the Sukkah upon entering and exiting, and to kiss the Daled Minim, Matzah and Maror to show their belovedness of the Mitzvah. [Ateres Zekeinim 12 in name of Shelah; Kaf Hachaim 24/19]

[28] Admur 24/4; Chesed Leavraham

[29] Arizal in Shaar Hakavanos p. 27b; Kaf Hachaim 24/8;

[30] Chesed Lealafim 24/2; Kitzur SHU”A 17/7; Kaf Hachaim 24/18; Ketzos Hashulchan 19/25; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 24 footnote 34 that some are not accustomed to kiss the Tzitzis upon saying the word Tzitzis, as doing so ruins one’s Kavana.

[31] Ketzos Hashulchan 1 Hosafos p. 90b that so is the custom

[32] Sefer Haminhagim p. 25 [English]; Hayom Yom p. 64; Admur ibid and Michaber/Rama ibid regarding the kissing of the Tzitzis by Ureisem.

Passing over the eyes before the kissing: One passes the Tzitzis over the eyes prior to the kissing. [Chayeh Adam 11/1; Ben Ish Chaiy Vaeira 22; Sefer Haminhagim ibid; Custom of Rebbe] However from the Arizal it is implied that one is to do so after the kissing. [Shaar Hakavanos Derush Tzitzis 7, brought in Kaf Hachaim 24/8; Seder Hayom Tzitzis]

[33] 24/4; Ketzos Hashulchan 19/25

[34] Arizal in Shaar Hakavanos p. 27b, brought in M”A 24/1; Kaf Hachaim 24/8

[35] Sefer Haminhagim p. 22 [English]

[36] Sefer Haminhagim p. 24

[37] Ketzos Hashulchan 19 footnote 64 in name of Ateres Zekeinim 60

[38] Arizal in Shaar Hakavanos p. 27; Kaf Hachaim 24/8

[39] Sefer Haminhagim p.24 [English]; The Rebbe was witnessed to do at the beginning of the paragraph of Ahavas Olam.

[40] See Admur 61/24 and Michaber 61/25 “When one says “Ureisem Oso” one is to touch the two front Tzitzis and look at them”; Custom of Terumos Hadeshen in Leket Yosher p. 18; Custom of Gr”a in Maaseh Rav 39; Custom of Chazon Ish and Rav SZ”A. [Piskeiy Teshuvos 24 footnote 18]

[41] Arizal in Shaar Hakavanos Tzitzis Derush 7; Kaf Hachaim 24/8; So writes also Ateres Zekeinim 60

[42] Sefer Haminhagim p. 24 [English]

[43] Beir Moshe 2/5-7; Piskeiy Teshuvos 24 footnote 18; Dinei Iter 6/6 [p. 12 and 147]

[44] The reason: As the heart is by left side and the Tzitzis to be by the heart. [Beir Moshe ibid] As Malchus receives from the left side. [Peri Eitz Chaim Shaar Shema Beria 3] Based on this even a lefty is to hold the Tzitzis by the left side, according to Kabala the left and right side don’t change. [Dinei Iter ibid]

[45] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 24 footnote 24; Halichos Shlomo 7 footnote 35 writes that Rav SZ”A placed the Tzitzis over his glasses.

[46] Reply of Rabbi Groner, as to the Chabad custom in this regard. See Piskeiy Teshuvos 24 footnote 19 that one is to hold the two front Tzitzis at all times that Shema is recited outside of Shacharis.

[47] Kaf Hachaim 24/16

[48] Shevus Yaakov 2/38; Yad Ahron; Chesed Lealafim 24/2; Shesilei Zeisim 24/8

[49] Shalmei Tzibur p. 96

[50] Shut Rashbash 26 in name of Rabanan Savuraiy; Kitzur Shelah p. 40; Yad Aharon in name of Matzos Shmurim; Elya Raba 24/3; Beir Heiytiv 24/2; M”B 24/7; Kaf Hachaim [Falagai] 14/13; Kaf Hachaim 24/14

[51] This refers to the Rabanan Savuraiy which preceded the period of the Geonim. They lived directly after the times of the Talmud and Amoraim in the years 500-600

[52] Ben Ish Chaiy Noach 16; Daas Torah 8/2; Kaf Hachaim 28/8 in name of Chesed Lealafim

[53] Admur 300/4 regarding Motzei Shabbos; M”A 300 in name of Maharil; Taamei Haminhagim

[54] Ben Ish Chaiy Noach 16; Kaf Hachaim 14/26

[55] Ben Ish Chaiy Noach 16; Kaf Hachaim 14/26; Midrash Talpiyos brought in Taameiy Haminhagim 424; Ketzos Hashulchan 100 footnote 6

[56] Ben Ish Chaiy Noach 16 “Giving it to the Shamash to fold is bad for ones Mazal”; Nimukeiy Orach Chaim 24

[57] Machazik Bracha 24/10

 

 

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