Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Shlach. Tzitzis for Women

Last week, at our Kiddush, a friend recounted an interesting experience. He had been on one of his long walks in the forest preserve, and he saw two women on the path. They were dressed in tzniyusdikkeh old-fashioned-Orthodox garb. He was surprised to see that one of them was not only wearing tzitzis, and not only were the strings worn outside her clothes, but that she also had techeiles in her tzitzis.
It was ironic, he said, because, in consideration of the heat and humidity, he himself had left both long pants and tzitzis at home.

His story led perfectly in to our Torah discussion at the Kiddush, because Parshas Shelach ends with the parshah of Tzitzis.  Coincidentally, the local Kollel had printed a discussion by a dear friend and colleague on that very topic. I am reproducing the article here 

After the article, I bring sources, some of which were cited in the article, with comments and interpretation.

Our discussion will follow the sources section.

Women and Tzitzis 

Rabbi Henoch Plotnik 

-Rabbi Plotnik, an alumnus of Chicago Community Kollel, is a Ra'm at Yeshivas Meor HaTorah and Mora d'Asra of Bais Tefila in Chicago. 

The Gemara in Menachos (43a) teaches us that women are exempt from the mitzvah of tzitzis due to its status as a time-dependent mitzvah (z'man grama). This mitzvah is time-bound since only an article of clothing worn by day is obli-gated in tzitzis, as derived from the pasuk "u're'isem oso" in this week's parshah. Additionally, the well-known words of the Targum Yonasan ben Uziel include women wearing tzitzis and tefillin under the prohibition of "lo yilbash," forbidding a woman from wearing men's clothing. As a general rule, even some-one who is exempt from a mitzvah can certainly perform it vol-untarily, provided that there are no other prohibitions involved. In fact, the halachah for Ashkenazim follows the opinion of the Rishonim (Rabbeinu Tam) that women are even allowed to make a brachah when performing a "z'man grama" despite the implication of the word "v'tzivanu" ("and He commanded us"). Those that follow Sephardic custom may not recite the brachah as per their tradition, following the opinion of the R"i.

The Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 17) paskens that women are indeed peturos from tzitzis; the Rema adds that as is the case for other z'man grama mitzvos, they have the option to put on tzitzis and make a brachah. It should be noted that the Rema is only discussing a feminine article of clothing; wearing distinctively mate attire would certainly violate "to yilbash" (R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l in Shulchan Shlomo 3:18). The Rema adds that a woman should not wear tzitzis because it is "michzi k'yuhara" - an activity perceived as haughty and arrogant. Traditionally, women have never worn tzitzis; breaking with that long-standing conduct of bnos Yisroel since time immemorial is viewed as yuhara, hardly a commendable virtue. Furthermore, the Rema comments that since the mitzvah of tzitzis is not a "chovas gavra" (meaning, even men are not technically obligated to seek out a four-cornered article to obligate themselves in tzitzis if they don't own one, unlike tefillin where the observance is imperative), women should not put themselves in a position where they would need to wear tzitzis. (However, the minhag haolam is for us [men] to go out of our way and acquire clothing that is obligated in tzitzis.) The Bi'ur Halachah (190) adds that since the Gemara makes no mention of women per-forming this mitzvah, they should always refrain from making a brachah even in the event that they do wear them. He makes the same point concerning mitzvas shofar. 

In 1976, when women's "equality" movements were sweeping across the country, Rav Moshe Feinstein wrote a teshuvah (O.C. 4, #49) addressing the issues that were coming to the fore, one of which was the subject of women wearing talleisim. After explaining how Hashem in His ultimate wisdom exempted wom-en from mitzvos aseh shehaz'man grama and that Chazal neither encouraged nor mandated their observance, Rav Moshe writes unequivocally that even if "times have changed," the Torah has not. Those waging war against its tenets and principles and demanding "equality" are guilty chas v'shalom of very serious prohibitions. Although women were certainly given license to voluntarily perform those mitzvos, their true motivation must be the desire to fulfill the mitzvah, and not to make political or aggressive statements. If undermining Hashem's Torah is the underlying reason for their actions, their position is akin to kefirah, believing that the Torah needs to be changed. A woman is no less capable of achieving kedushah than a man but for reasons known only to the Giver of the Torah, women were given different mitzvos to perform. Being chosen for an alter-native role in mitzvah performance should not be per-ceived as a slight to their honor. 

Interestingly, the Maharil (the basis for many of the cus-toms mentioned by the Rema) was asked why he didn't protest against a certain woman who consistently wore a tallis katan. His response was that he was concerned that she may not heed his words "and better she should remain a shogeig and not a meizid." Clearly the Maharil held this practice was something that fundamentally needed to be rectified. In fact, in that same teshuvah (37, chadoshos) he refers to such women as "hedyotos," a term reserved for those who are actually simpletons and misguided despite their apparent good deeds. 

The Aruch Hashulchan as well writes concerning women and tzitzis, "We do not allow this, such is the custom, and it should not be changed." It would also seem that any contemporary woman who dons what is recognizable as a classic men's tallis would be in violation of "lo yilbash" as quoted above from R' Shlomo Zalman. 

As far as tefillin are concerned, the Rema strongly condemns the practice of women wearing them; as the com-mentaries explain, since tefillin require extra attention to "guf naki," they are best worn only by those who are absolutely obligated to do so. The Gemara does record that one woman, Michal bas Shaul, wore tefillin (Eruvin 96a). The Kaf Hachaim writes that she was a lone excep-tion, as she possessed the neshamah of a man as well as other unique considerations. The common perception that Rashi's daughers wore tefillin has no reliable source and therefore need not be investigated. (For an exhaustive treatment of this popular myth, see article by Dr. Ari Zivi-tovsky available through the OU and their website.) 

In conclusion, neither social upheaval nor modern influence should ever encourage or cause us to waiver from true Toras Imecha, our badge of pride and honor since matan Torah. Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky zt"l explained that the reason minhagei Yisrael are termed Toras Imecha is because just as a mother instinctively senses what her child needs, Klal Yisrael has developed and maintained those customs we instinctively know we need in order to perpetuate the kedushah and sense of mission we are privileged to transmit. Observing what we have always done in the past, will guide us in how to proceed in the future. 

OC 17 2

נשים ועבדים פטורים מפני שהיא מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא.
הגה: ומכל מקום אם רוצים לעטפו ולברך עליו הרשות בידו כמו בשאר מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא (תוספות והרא"ש והר"ן פרק ב' דראש השנה ופרק קמא דקדושין) אך מחזי כיוהרא ולכן אין להן ללבוש ציצית הואיל ואינו חובת גברא (אגור סימן כ"ז) פירוש אינו חייב לקנות לו טלית כדי שיתחייב בציצית ולקמן בסימן י"ט אמר כשיש לו טלית מארבע כנפות (ולבשו).

The Agur quoting the Maharil as brought by the Rama
 ונשאל מהר״י מולן והשיב דנשים הלובשות ציצית שטות הוא ומחזי כיוהרא. ואחת היתה בשכונתינו שהיתר. לובשת 

The Maharil in our version of the Maharil
 אמהרי"ל במקום שיש איש יודע לתקן ציציות אל תתקנם האשה ואמר דלא נהירא בעיניו מה שיש נשים מכניסות עצמן לחיוב ציצית ושאלו לו מפני מה אינו מוחה ביד הרבנית (מ' ברונ"א) בעירו שהינחה בכל עת טלית קטן והשיב שמא אינה מקשבת לי ועל כה"ג אמר מוטב יהו שוגגין ואל יהו מזידין 
(ג) הואיל ואינו חובת גברא — בזה מתורץ למה מברכות הנשים על לולב, דהוא גם כן מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא. ותירץ, שאני הכא שאינו חובת גברא, שאפילו איש אין עליו חיוב דאורייתא לקנות טלית בת ד' כנפים, אלא אם מתעטף חייב לעשות ציצית; מה שאין כן לולב, דגבי איש הוא חובת גברא שהוא חובת הגוף:
Mishna Berura 
(ה) ואינו חובת גברא — בזה מתרץ למה מברכות הנשים על לולב דהוא ג"כ מ"ע שהזמ"ג ותירץ שאני התם שאינו חובת גברא שאפילו איש אין עליו חיוב דאורייתא לקנות טלית בת ד' כנפות אלא אם מתעטף חייב לעשות בו ציצית משא"כ לולב דגבי איש הוא חובת גברא שהוא חובת הגוף. ודע דאנן פסקינן גבי ציצית חובת גברא ולאו ח"ג ותרוייהו לקולא חובת גברא לקולא למעוטי חובת מנא שכל זמן שאינו לובש הטלית אע"פ שיש לו ד' כנפות פטורה מציצית לאו חובת גברא שאינו חייב לקנות לו טלית כדי שיתחייב בציצית רק אם יש לו טלית מד' כנפות ולובשו אז חייב בציצית עיין סי' י"ט:

Kaf HaChaim
(ה) שם בהגה: אך מחזי כיוהרא ולכן אין להן ללבוש ציצית וכו' — ועוד יש חשש איסור משום לא יהיה כלי גבר על אשה. לבוש סעיף ב'. ובדברי האר"י ז"ל בשכר הכוונות שהבאנו לשונו לעיל סימן ט"ז אות ב' מפורש שאין הנשים שייכות במצוה זו, יעויין שם. וכן כתב בן איש חי פרשת לך לך אות י"ג. ועיין לקמן סימן לח אות ט:
(ו) שם בהגה: הואיל ואינו חובת גברא — פירוש, שאינו חייב ליקח לעצמו טלית, כמו שכתוב ריש סימן כ"דמגן אברהם ס"ק ב. וכן כתב הט"ז ס"ק ג. מאמר מרדכי אות א'. ומה שכתב בשולחן ערוך סימן יט סעיף א: ציצית חובת גברא הוא, בא לאפוקי ממאן דאמר כלי קופסא חייבין בציצית, כמו שכתב הט"ז שם ס"ק א. אבל לא בא לומר ליקח לעצמו טלית שאינו חייב, כמו שכתוב סימן כד. ומה שקרא אותו חובת גברא, לפי שאם בא ללבוש בגד בת ד' כנפות חייב להטיל בה ציצית, כמבואר בסימן י"ט טור ובית יוסף:
ומזה נתבאר לנו דציצית חובת גברא, ולא חובת גברא, ותרווייהו לקולא. חובת גברא לקולא, למעוטי כלי קופסא, שכל זמן שאינו לובש הטלית, אף על פי שיש לו ד' כנפות פטורה מן הציצית, וכמו שכתוב בסימן י"ט. ולא חובת גברא, שאינו חייב לקנות לו טלית כדי שיתחייב בציצית, רק אם יש לו טלית בת ד' כנפות ורוצה ללובשו חייב להטיל בו ציצית, וכמו שכתוב בסימן כ"ד טור ושולחן ערוךועיין מה שנכתוב שם על סימן כד סעיף א בסייעתא דשמיא:

Aruch HaShulchan
....גם בציצית לכאורה יכולות להתעטף ולברך.

אבל באמת לא שמענו זה. ואין מניחין אותן ללבוש טלית, וכל שכן לברך. ואינו דומה לשופר וסוכה ולולב דהוי פעם אחת בשנה והמצוה כרגע, אבל ציצית מצוותה כל השנה ולא נאה לנשים. ועוד: דכל המצות הם חובה לאנשים, ולכן יכולות גם הן לעשות כן. אבל ציצית אינו חובה כמו שכתבתי בסימן י"ט, ואיך נניח לנשים לעשותה? וזהו כוונת רבינו הרמ"א שכתב: ומכל מקום אם רוצות... אך מיחזי כיוהרא. ולכן אין להן ללבוש ציצית, הואיל ואינו חובת גברא. עד כאן לשונו, כלומר: דמיחזי כיוהרא כיון שהיא תמידית, וגם כיון שאינו לחובה לאיש אלא כשיש לו בגד של ארבע כנפות. ולכן אין מניחים לנהוג מצוה זו. וכן המנהג ואין לשנות.

It is worth emphasizing one thing the Aruch HaShulchan says: that Tzitzis is different than other Zman Grammas in that it is constant. He says that this constancy is a good reason for women to not wear them.  What does he mean by this? He means that if a woman takes a lulav or hears shofar, she is a woman that is doing mitzvos like a man.  If a woman were to wear tzitzis every day, the halachic distinction between men and women, the firm standard of the ptur of zman gramma, would be attenuated. Speculatively, I would suggest that this is what the Targum Yonasan (Devarim 22:5) means when he says on Lo Yilbash לא יהיה גוליין דציצית ותפילין דאינון תיקוני גבר על איתתא. It's hard to understand why a simple daled kanfos would be a beged ish.  Maybe this is what he means.
Igros Moshe
 אגרות משה או"ח ח"ד סי' מט בעניין פטור נשים ממצוות עשה שהזמ"ג
איברא דאיכא רשות לכל אשה לקיים אף המצות שלא חייבתן תורה ויש להם מצוה ושכר על קיום מצות אלו וגם לשיטת התוס׳ רשאות גם לברך על המצות וכמנהגנו שמקיימות מצות שופר ולולב וגם מברכות שא״כ  גם על ציצית שייך לאשה שתרצה ללבוש בגד שיהיה בצורה אחרת מבגדי אנשים אבל יהיה בד׳ כנפות ולהטיל בו ציצית ולקיים מצוה זו. ורק להניח תפילין כתבו התוס' עירובין דף צ״ו ע״א ד״ה מיכל דצריך למחות בידן משום דתפילין צריך זריזות מרובה בגוף נקי ובהיסח הדעת שמטעם זו אף אנשים שמחוייבין בתפילין נמנעין מלהניחם כל היום אלא רק זמן המועט דתפלה בשחרית, וכן איפסק ברמ״א או״ח סימן ל״ח סעי׳ גי, ובתרגום יונתן על קרא דלא יהיה כלי גבר על אשה איתא לא יהי גוליין דציצית ותפילין דהינון תיקוני גבר על איתא לא סבירא להו לתוס׳ זה, ופשוט שהתוס׳ סברי שאינו מתרגום יונתן. אבל פשוט שהוא רק בחשקה נפשה לקיים מצות אף כשלא נצטותה, אבל מכיון שאינו לכוונה זו אלא מצד תורעמותה על השי״ת ועל תורתו אין זה מעשה מצוה כלל אלא אדרבה מעשה איסור שהאיסור דכפירה שחושבת דשייך שיהיה איזה חלוף בדיני התורה היא עושית גם במעשה שחמיר.
To Reb Moshe's teshuva, I would like to add a reference to the Meiri in Sotah 22b:, who says that tzitzis are sometimes used in the service of hypocritical dissimulation, to which he applies the passuk "ויציצו כל פועלי און"
In light of the Aruch HaShulchan's reason for opposing women wearing tzitzis, you recognize the special attraction tzitzis has for women that want to break down the mitzva distinction between men and women.
Yalkut Yosef from R Yitzchak Yosef on the Kitzur
ו נשים פטורות ממצות ציצית, ככל מצוות עשה שהזמן גרמא. ואף על פי שבשופר וסוכה ולולב אם רצו הנשים לקיימן רשאיות, ובלבד שלא תברכנה על המצוה, [למנהג הספרדים ועדות המזרח], ואין בזה משום כל הפטור מן הדבר ועושהו נקרא הדיוט, מכל מקום במצות ציצית אין להן לחייב את עצמן ולהתעטף בציצית, אפילו בלי ברכה, דמיחזי כיוהרא. ויש אומרים שיש בזה גם חשש משום לא יהיה כלי גבר על אשה, ואף על פי שהעיקר לדינא שאין בזה האיסור הנז' מכל מקום ראוי למונען מזה, ובפרט בזמן הזה כאשר הרפורמים מנהיגים כן בקהילותיהם. [ילקו''י שם עמוד שכג. ושאר''י ח''א עמוד רס]

As an aside, it is important to mention that there are women that are obligated to wear tzitzis. We have written about this before.   Most of the people who read this are not members of that group.  Additionally, I am told that among some Chasidisheh groups, the Rebbe's wife puts on tzitzis and tefillin. This is probably a myth, but I don't care if it's true or not. I'm discussing Torah from Sinai.
I am unaware of even one poseik that mentions the idea of women wearing tzitzis with approval.  On the contrary- it is absolutely clear that the poskim disapproved of women wearing tzitzis. That, however, might be a cultural artifact, and therefore mutable if necessary. Therefore, while remaining aware of the historical and cultural opposition of all recorded poskim, we will limit our discussion to strictly halachic issues. 

1.  Let me share my biggest problem with this sugya.  I think that unlike other zman gramas, and even according to Rebbeinu Tam, a woman's bracha on Tzitzis is a bracha levatala. The mitzva of tzitzis is a two step process. If the beged is chayav, you put tzitzis in. If the person is chayav, you get a mitzva for wearing it. But if the beged is not chayav in the first place, it does not become a cheftza shel mitzva. Only a man's ownership of a beged creates the chiyuv to put in tzitzis before wearing that beged. I think that since a woman is not chayeves, her beged is not chayav, and she cannot create the cheftza of tzitzis by putting strings into a beged that is not chayav.
This has nothing to do with Rabbeinu Tam/Ri as brought in OC 14 whether women can put tzitzis into a beged. I'm talking about their beged being in the parsha of tztizis at all. Nobody is mattir tzitzis that were put into a beged before it was owned by a Jew, because it is not in the parsha of a beged of chiyuv (and later it would be min he'asui.) I say the same is true by a beged owned by a woman. As far as I can tell, the only beged that would be kosher would be one that is either owned by a man at the time of putting it together, or owned by a man who intends to sell it to a man. 
Therefore, the only beged that a woman could make a bracha on would be a beged into which tzitzis were placed while it was owned by a man.
It is possible that this is what the Maharil meant.  Although the Rama does not identify this as a problem, I believe that is because he is talking about Tzitzis that a women purchased or was given by a man who owned it when it was made and made it for a man.  But if it was made while the beged belonged to a women, it is passuuuul and it's a bracha l'vatala.

2.  We are machmir lechatchila like the Maharam that בני ישראל ועשו להם ציצית is darshened to mean that women cannot put the tzitzis into the beged, and that only a man can do so. According to the Maharam, a woman making a bracha on a woman-made beged would be making a bracha levatala. Also, people should know that if they're relying on Rabbeinu Tam's opinion in making a bracha on tzitzis, their Rabbeinu Tam would not allow them to make a bracha on tzitzis fashioned by a woman, on the basis of כל שישנו בקשירה ישנו בכתיבה (Gittin 45b.) To do so would be a bracha levatala.They would have to use tzitzis made by a man. Women making a bracha on tzitzis are using Rabbeinu Tam when it suits them and disregarding him when it does not.  
In any case, according to the Maharam and Rabbeinu Tam, the only tzitzis a woman could make a bracha on are where the tzitzis were inserted into the beged by a man.

As I said at the end of #1, I do agree that if a woman would walk into Eichlers and buy a pair of Tzitzis, that she could make a bracha on them.  

Someone (R'D'NJS of M'A) said the following:  
there is no halachic construct to say  that one can not be motzi oneself his / her own mitzva
even if you say women are peturot from tzitzit and therefor their beged [1] or tieing [2] is invalid, it is invalid for men but not for herselfi think that is axiomatic . [ and dont start with havdala and megilla please ] 
I responded to him that while in my heart I know he's right, I am too much of a technician to allow my mind to accept it.  Furthermore, I have to say that his teretz is somewhat demeaning to the concept of Eino Metzuveh v'Oseh.
However: we have to think about the Gemara in Hasfina about Rav Chanina ben Dosa's wife.  This is something Rabbeinu Tam has to deal with, too, but I don't recall if anyone discusses it. The Gemara in BB 74b says
דדביתהו דר"ח בן דוסא דעתידה דשדיא תכלתא בה לצדיקי לעלמא דאתי  

3. It's peculiar that a woman would wear Tzitzis out, when the inevitable result is to draw attention to one's clothing. I think this is what most surprised my friend in the forest preserve. Considering that in Chazal tzitzis are thought of as a means of reinforcing modesty, it's somewhat strange to use them in a fashion that has the opposite effect. On the other hand, the term "modesty" is malleable enough to support whatever thesis one wishes. Even so, my wife, whose insight into women's motivations is more reliable than mine, vehemently stated that any woman that wears her tzitzis out wants to be looked at- for her, the mitzva of tzitzis is וראיתם אותה, not for וראיתם אותו. Poor tzitzis..... .


  1. I am having trouble understanding your "Taana" in point #1. If I understand correctly, you are saying that even if a man were to attach strings to a woman's beged it would still be a bracha levatala since her beged is not chayav so it cannot become a cheftza shel mitzva.
    Doesn't the whole concept of an Eino Metzuva Veoseh mean that she is entitled to accept the Mitzva? Why is it different from a woman who makes a Succah? Yehuda Oppenheimer

    1. I'm so glad you pointed that out. I understand the concept of EMv'O to mean that a non-metzuveh can take a cheftza shel mitzva and get schar. But if there's a din that the creation of the cheftza requires a bar chiyuva, then a non-bar-chiyuva can not create the cheftza. Would Rabbeinu Tam say that a woman that makes her own igud of a lulav or build her own sukkah could make a bracha on it? I say no. It's not a cheftza shel mitzva.

  2. I agree. But what if a man puts the strings on a beged owned by a woman? You seem to be saying that it is still not a cheftza shel mitzva.

    1. It's enough of a problem that sellers put tzitzis into begadim that they do not intend to wear. Fine, at least they're men, they might wear them, so they have a din chiyuv, it's not like putting the tzitzis in while they're hefker, or owned by a goy. But at least you need a beged that is in the parsha of chiyuv- and I say that a woman's beged is no better than a beged shel hefker or a beged lailah according to the Rosh/Rabbeinu Tam. It's not in the parsha of chiyuv, and you're preparing it for someone who's not chayav. That's why I say that it should be owned by a man and put in by a man.

  3. I need to (continue to) think about that. I feel that perhaps a woman's beged is better than beged hefker, beged goy or beged laila because of her status as an EMv"O. I agree that a man should attach the strings. YO

    1. Good. I want to point out that the Mishbetzos in 18 at the end of sk 1 remains with a safek regarding putting tzitzis into a garment designated as a ksus lailah and then changing your mind and using it as a ksus yom, whether it's a min ha'asui problem. Also, in the sefer Daas Noteh, a likut on R'Ch Kanievsky's tshuvos, he talks at length about this, and he says even that if a child puts tzitzis into his own beged, and he doesn't plan to wear it after his Bar Mitzvah, that there would be a min ha'asui problem! I think you would agree that a woman is no more in the parsha than a kattan.

  4. I certainly agree that a woman is no more in the parsha than a kattan - but what would be if a Gadol put tzitzis on the beged of a koton to be used after his Bar mitzva. Would that be min ha'asui? I would say not. I look forward to seeing the Mishbetzos.

  5. Would saying that women are be'etzem chayav in all mitzvos, but that they have a ptur on some (zman grama) help at all?
    What about the Raavad that mitzvos zman grama were given mtchilah to women betoras reshus? Would this help explain how they can make a cheftza shel mitzva?

    1. I am unaware of this Raavad. As for women, this raises the question about what the petur of kattan is. It's time to review what Reb Moshe and Reb Meir Simcha say on that.

  6. Eagerly awaiting the review...