– Author: Rav Jeremy Koolyk
Observance of mitzvot happens in the real world, a world fraught with responsibilities and distractions. For mitzvot which are performed over an extended period of time, like tzitzit, tefillin, and sukka, this fact inevitably necessitates interrupting mitzvot in order to attend to one’s affairs. When one resumes a mitzva after an interruption, is one continuing the original fulfillment of the mitzva or starting the mitzva anew? This question lies at the crux of the issue concerning whether one must recite a new beracha after interrupting a mitzva. In this article, we will explore the parameters of when a resumed mitzva requires a new beracha and when the original beracha suffices.
The Tur writes that if one removes his tallit with the intention of putting it away and then later decides to wear it again, it is obvious that he must recite a beracha when he wears it again. In this case, the original beracha recited when he first wore it is certainly no longer in effect, as he consciously ended his performance of the mitzva. Hence, a new beracha is required when he begins the mitzva again. However, the Tur is uncertain as to whether a beracha is necessary in a case where a person removed his tallit with the intention of wearing it again, such as before entering the restroom. On the one hand, perhaps this case should be compared to a case in which the tefillin slipped out of the correct place, where the Gemara rules that a new beracha is required. On the other hand, perhaps this case differs from that of the tefillin because here he intended to replace the tallit, whereas there the tefillin slipped out of place without his knowledge. The Tur leans toward the second option.
Presumably, the logic behind these options revolves around how to define a new wearing of the tallit. The beracha recited on the tallit should remain in effect as long as it is connected to the current wearing session. One way to look at the situation is to view the removal of the tallit as the conclusion of the first wearing session, such that when the tallit is donned again, a new beracha is required for the new wearing. Another way to view it – the way the Tur views it – is that since the tallit was removed with the intention of putting it back on, when it is returned it is considered an automatic continuation of the original wearing such that the original beracha would suffice.
To assess these two options, it is necessary to analyze the following Gemara (Sukka 46a), which discusses when a new beracha is required in the contexts of sukka and tefillin. The Gemara compares the beracha on the mitzva of sukka to the beracha on the mitzva of tefillin, noting that the number of times one must recite a beracha upon entering the sukka is contingent upon a Tannaitic dispute about tefillin:
תנאי היא; דתניא: תפילין, כל זמן שמניחן מברך עליהן, דברי רבי. וחכמים אומרים: אינו מברך אלא שחרית בלבד. אתמר, אביי אמר: הלכתא כרבי, ורבא אמר: הלכתא כרבנן. אמר רב מרי ברה דבת שמואל: חזינא ליה לרבא דלא עביד כשמעתיה, אלא מקדים וקאי ועייל לבית הכסא, ונפיק ומשי ידיה ומנח תפילין ומברך. וכי איצטריך זימנא אחרינא – עייל לבית הכסא, ונפיק ומשי ידיה, ומנח תפילין ומברך. ואנן נמי כרבי עבדינן, ומברכין כל שבעה.
It is contingent upon a Tannaitic dispute, as it was taught in a baraita: ‘Tefillin – whenever one dons them, he must make a beracha on them’, these are the words of Rebbi. The Sages [Chachamim] say: He only makes a beracha on them in the morning [i.e., the first time he dons them during the day]. It was stated that Abaye said: The halacha follows Rebbi. Rava said, The halacha follows the Sages. Rav Mari, son of Shmuel’s daughter, said, ‘I witnessed Rava practicing against his own ruling; he would wake up early, go to the bathroom, exit, wash his hands, and don tefillin with a beracha. When he needed to relieve himself again, he would go to the bathroom, exit, wash his hands, and don tefillin with a beracha.’ We, too, practice like Rebbi, and recite a beracha on the sukka all seven days.
According to the Gemara, the dispute between the Tanna’im about whether a new beracha must be recited each time the tefillin are put back on has ramifications for how many times one recites a beracha on the mitzva of sukka. According to Rebbi, who holds that each time the tefillin are removed and replaced a new beracha is required, it follows that on Sukkot, each time a person returns to the sukka, he must make a new beracha. According to the Chachamim, however, just as the initial beracha on tefillin suffices for the entire day despite breaks in the tefillin-wearing, so, too, one beracha on the sukka suffices for the entire week of Sukkot, despite the many interruptions. Although even the Chachamim agree that one must make a beracha on the tefillin each day, this is because the intervening night was a time when no obligation of tefillin existed (laila lav zeman tefillin); the mitzva of sukka, conversely, is obligatory both during the day and the night. Therefore, one beracha at the beginning of the obligation suffices for the entire duration of the obligation, despite the many breaks which may transpire.
The conclusion of the Gemara, based on the ruling of Abaye and the practice of Rava, seems to be that the halacha follows Rebbi, thus requiring a new beracha each time a person puts on tefillin and each time a person returns to the sukka. Indeed, the Rishonim codify the position of Rebbi as the accepted halacha.
Based on this Gemara, the Beit Yosef challenges the Tur’s conclusion that if one takes his tallit off with the intention of putting it back on, a new beracha is not required when he wears the tallit again. The Beit Yosef points out that Rava would remove his tefillin and make a new beracha every time he entered and exited the bathroom. In other words, even though he removed his tefillin with the intention of putting them back on after he came out of the bathroom, he nevertheless recited a beracha each time he donned his tefillin anew. The Beit Yosef concludes on this basis that the intention to continue the mitzva does not help to continue the effect of the original beracha; rather, after each interruption in a mitzva, a new beracha must be recited upon the continuation of that mitzva.
The Darkei Moshe defends the position of the Tur. He argues that a general principle cannot be extrapolated from the story of Rava reciting a beracha on tefillin each time he exited the bathroom. This is because it is forbidden to wear tefillin in the bathroom. Therefore, he had no choice but to remove them prior to entering the bathroom. The fact that he was forced to remove his tefillin meant that when he removed his tefillin, it was unequivocally considered the conclusion of that wearing session, despite his intention to wear them again when he came out of the bathroom. However, in the Tur’s case, the person is not forced to remove his tallit, but rather removes it of his own volition with the intention of putting it back on. Therefore, as long as when he removed the tallit, he intended to put the tallit back on, his second wearing is considered a continuation of the original wearing session and no new beracha is required.
The Shulchan Aruch and Rema rule in Hilchot Tefillin in accordance with their respective opinions in the Beit Yosef and Darkei Moshe. According to the Shulchan Aruch, any time a man removes his tefillin, he must make a new beracha when he puts them on again. According to the Rema, in most cases it depends upon his intention at the time of the removal of the tefillin: If he planned to put them back on, a new beracha is not required, while if he planned to leave them off, a new beracha is required. In certain cases where the removal of the tefillin is halachically obligatory (e.g., entering the bathroom), even the Rema agrees that a new beracha is required despite the intention to put the tefillin back on.
Contradictions in the Rulings of the Shulchan Aruch and Rema
Within the context of Hilchot Tefillin, the positions of Shulchan Aruch and Rema seem wholly consistent with the explanations of the Gemara that they respectively put forth in the Beit Yosef and Darkei Moshe. However, if we turn to two other areas of halacha, the Acharonim point out internal contradictions in their positions.
In Hilchot Sukka, the Beit Yosef cites the opinion of the Maggid Mishneh: Even though one recites a beracha each time one enters the sukka, if a person leaves the sukka just to speak briefly with his friend or bring something to the sukka, this does not constitute a break in the mitzva, and he therefore need not recite a new beracha upon his return. Since he quotes no dissenting opinions, the implication is that the Beit Yosef accepts the ruling of the Maggid Mishneh. This ruling seems to contradict his ruling in Hilchot Tefillin, where he rules that after any break in the mitzva a new beracha is required upon resumption even if there was intent to continue. Here, he rules that if one takes a short break from the sukka to speak with a friend, a beracha is not required when he returns. What explains the difference between his two rulings?
If we look at Hilchot Tzitzit, it becomes evident that the Rema also appears to contradict himself. The Shulchan Aruch rules there:
אם פשט טליתו, אפילו היה דעתו לחזור ולהתעטף בו מיד, צריך לברך כשיחזור ויתעטף בו
If he removed his tallit, even if he planned to immediately wear it again, he must make a new beracha when he wears it.
The Rema then comments:
וי”א שאין מברכין אם היה דעתו לחזור ולהתעטף בו. וי”א דוקא כשנשאר עליו טלית קטן, והכי נוהגין
Some say that he does not make a new beracha if he planned to wear it again. And some say that this is only if he was wearing a tallit katan in the interim, and this is the accepted practice.
The opinion of Shulchan Aruch here seems consistent with Hilchot Tefillin, as in both cases, a new beracha must be recited when the article is worn again. But as mentioned, the Rema’s ruling is puzzling. The first opinion he cites is identical to what he writes in Hilchot Tefillin, but the second opinion, which he notes is the opinion followed in practice, is seemingly at odds with what he writes in Hilchot Tefillin. In Hilchot Tefillin, he rules that removing the tefillin with intention to put them back on means that the original beracha will suffice, while in Hilchot Tzitzit he rules that this is only true if one was wearing a tallit katan in the interim. What explains the difference between the rulings of the Rema?
Resolutions for the Shulchan Aruch: Rule and Exception
Let us first tackle the contradiction in the Shulchan Aruch between Hilchot Tzitzit and Hilchot Tefillin on the one hand and Hilchot Sukka on the other. Methodologically speaking, two main options to resolve the contradiction exist: Hilchot Tzitzit and Hilchot Tefillin demonstrate the rule, while Hilchot Sukka constitutes the exception, or vice- versa. Both of these options are employed by the Acharonim in attempting to resolve the opinion of the Shulchan Aruch.
The Pri Megadim suggests that the operating principle is put forth in Hilchot Tzitzit and Hilchot Tefillin. In general, the Shulchan Aruch holds that if one interrupts the performance of a mitzva even with intent to return to that mitzva, a new beracha is required. The mitzva of sukka is an exceptional case because the definition of the mitzva is “teishvu k’ein taduru,” “dwell [in the sukka] as you live [in the house year-round]”. In other words, the mitzva of sukka requires that one’s behavior in the sukka mimic one’s behavior in one’s permanent residence. Since it is considered normal for a person to briefly leave his house to converse with a friend outside, when a person leaves the sukka to speak with a friend, he has not interrupted the mitzva of sukka. After all, he is treating his sukka just as he would his permanent residence. Thus, after a short break from the sukka, no beracha is necessary since there was no true interruption in the mitzva. Generally speaking, though, after any true interruption in a mitzva, regardless of one’s intent to return to the mitzva, a new beracha is required.
The Chemed Moshe takes the opposite approach, identifying the rule where the Pri Megadim sees the exception. In his opinion, generally, when one interrupts a mitzva with intention to return to the mitzva, a new beracha is not required when the mitzva is resumed, as the Beit Yosef rules with regard to sukka. The rationale for this is simple: Since the person is obligated to complete the mitzva and indeed plans to return to it, when the mitzva is resumed, there is a clear connection to the original fulfillment such that the original beracha suffices. Thus, despite the fact that speaking to one’s friend outside of the sukka is a break in the mitzva of sukka, since the person plans to return to the sukka and is obligated to complete the mitzva of dwelling in the sukka, when he returns to the sukka it is considered a continuation of the original mitzva. Tzitzit, however, is an exceptional case because once a person removes one’s tallit, there is no longer any obligation to fulfill the mitzva. The mitzva of tzitzit requires that one affix tzitzit strings to a four-cornered garment that one is wearing, but if one is not wearing such a garment, no obligation exists. Thus, when one removes his tallit, even if he intends to return to that mitzva shortly, he is totally divorced from the mitzva of tzitzit. Since there is no obligation that binds him to the mitzva during that time, when he replaces the tallit, it is viewed as a new fulfillment of the mitzva, which requires a beracha beforehand.
Based on his analysis, the Chemed Moshe writes that the rulings of the Shulchan Aruch with regard to tzitzit and sukka are understood, but his ruling about tefillin is perplexing. Tefillin, he argues, is more similar to sukka than it is to tzitzit since there is a bona fide obligation to wear tefillin. Accordingly, one who removes his tefillin with plans to put them back on should not need a new beracha since he planned to return to the mitzva, and there was an obligation to do so. It is difficult, then, to understand why the Shulchan Aruch requires a new beracha if one removed tefillin with intent to put them back on. The Chemed Moshe therefore writes that logic should dictate distinguishing between sukka and tefillin on the one hand and tzitzit on the other. The former set does not require a new beracha after a short break with intention to return, since there is a clear connection between the two mitzva sessions, while the latter requires a new beracha since during the intervening break the person was totally disconnected from the mitzva.
In defense of the Shulchan Aruch, we may suggest that the Shulchan Aruch accepts the general premise of the Chemed Moshe about when a new beracha is warranted but views the mitzva of tefillin differently and disagrees with the premise that tefillin is always considered an obligatory mitzva. Once a person has already worn tefillin for part of the day and removed them, is it clear that there is any obligation to continue to wear them?
Concerning this issue, the Shulchan Aruch writes that although tefillin should ideally be worn all day, because tefillin require a level of purity of body and mind that is difficult to maintain for an extended period of time, in practice tefillin are only worn for Keriat Shema and prayer. The Pri Megadim explains that on a Torah level, the base mitzva is fulfilled on any given day by wearing tefillin for even a moment, while wearing tefillin for the entire day is considered the best fulfillment of the mitzva (mitzva min hamuvchar). The practice to wear tefillin just for prayer, then, is essentially refraining from engaging in the mitzva min hamuvchar for fear of violating the sanctity of the tefillin. According to this approach, one who wore tefillin even momentarily and then removed them has already fulfilled the basic mitzva and does not have an absolute obligation to put them on again. Assuming the Shulchan Aruch agrees with this interpretation, it is quite logical, then, that he rules that one must always recite a new beracha after removing the tefillin just as after removing the tallit. Even though the wearer may have planned to put the tefillin back on, since there was no obligation to do so, as the basic obligation had already been discharged, his second wearing is considered disconnected from the original mitzva, such that the initial beracha is no longer sufficient.
Resolutions of the Rema: Textual Emendation, Stam Da’at, and Bridging the Gap
As mentioned, the Rema, too, seems to contradict himself. He rules in Hilchot Tefillin that when one removes tefillin with intent to put them back on, no new beracha is necessary, while he also rules in Hilchot Tzitzit that the practice is to make a new beracha unless one was wearing a tallit katan while the tallit was removed. What accounts for this discrepancy?
The Divrei Chamudot was so bothered by this quandary that he suggested emending the text of the Rema in Hilchot Tzitzit. The words “v’hachi nohagin,” which indicate which opinion is followed practically, should be moved to immediately follow the first opinion quoted in the Rema, thus signaling that in practice if one removed the tallit with intention to put it back on, no new beracha is required. This is wholly consistent with the ruling of the Rema in Hilchot Tefillin.
Assuming, however, that the text of the Rema has not been corrupted, other options to reconcile the rulings of the Rema must be explored. The Bach and Magen Avraham suggest that the opinion quoted in the Rema that requires one to be wearing a tallit katan to be exempt from a new beracha is referring specifically to a case in which the tallit was removed without particular intention (stam da’at). In other words, if a person removed his tallit with the specific intention of putting it back on, he need not recite a new beracha regardless of whether he was wearing a tallit katan during the interim, which is consistent with the Rema in Hilchot Tefillin. Similarly, if a person removes the tallit with specific intention not to put the tallit back on, he must certainly make a new beracha if he changes his mind and decides to wear it again, whether or not he was wearing a tallit katan. The presence of a tallit katan is the determining factor in whether or not a new beracha is required only if he removes his tallit without any specific intention as to when to return the tallit to his body. It is feasible, then, to rule both like the Rema in Hilchot Tefillin and like the second opinion in Hilchot Tzitzit, as the two are not contradictory, but rather relate to different levels of intention.
The Chemed Moshe employs his earlier analysis to resolve the contradiction in the Rema in a different manner. In general, the Rema holds that if one interrupts a mitzva with plans to resume it, a new beracha is not required, as he rules with regard to tefillin. However, this is only true of obligatory mitzvot because the obligation to return to the mitzva bridges the gap between the beracha and the resumption of the mitzva. Tzitzit, as alluded to above, is an unusual mitzva in that there is no obligation for a person who is not wearing a four-cornered garment to put on tzitzit. Therefore, barring a mitigating factor, one who removes his tallit, even with intent to put it back on, is entirely disconnected from the mitzva at that point and must therefore make a new beracha when he puts the tallit back on. Wearing a tallit katan, however, provides just such a mitigating factor; since a person who is wearing a tallit katan is still connected to the mitzva of tzitzit during his break from his tallit, he need not make another beracha on the tallit.
The Mishna Berura notes that the consensus of the Acharonim is to follow the first opinion in the Rema that exempts one from reciting a new beracha if he removes his tallit with intent to wear it again. Additionally, he interprets the second opinion in the Rema like the Bach and Magen Avraham, ruling that the presence of a tallit katan is only relevant in situations when the tallit was removed with stam da’at. Finally, he notes that even in the absence of specific intent, sometimes context can shed light on a person’s frame of mind. For example, if a person removes his tallit to use the restroom in the middle of prayer, he clearly intends to put it back on so that he can continue praying with a tallit. Similarly, if a person removes his tallit and folds it, he has demonstrated through his actions that he does not intend to put the tallit back on. The halacha in specific situations may therefore vary depending on the context.
 O.C. 8.
 Sukka 46a; see also Rosh, Hilchot Tefillin 14.
 See Ritva, Sukka 46a, s.v. “veha.”
 Rashi, Sukka 46a, s.v. “ela”.
 Rif, Sukka 22a; Rambam, Hilchot Tefillin 4:7, Hilchot Sukka 6:12; Rosh, Sukka 4:3.
 O.C. 8.
 O.C. 8:6.
 Even if he removes the tallit to use the bathroom, it is not considered as if he was forced to remove it since technically a tallit may be worn in the bathroom.
 O.C. 25:12.
 Mishna Berura, O.C. 25:47.
 See Divrei Chamudot 68 to Rosh, Hilchot Tzitzit 20; Magen Avraham, O.C. 8:18-19.
 O.C. 639.
 See, for example, Taz 639:20; Magen Avraham 639:17; Bikkurei Ya’akov 639:40; and Mishna Berura 639:46.
 O.C. 8:14.
 O.C., Aishel Avraham 8:18.
 Ultimately, the Pri Megadim rejects his suggestion because the Gemara (Sukka 46a) seems to equate between what constitutes a break with regard to tefillin and sukka, which would preclude the possibility of distinguishing between the two mitzvot. See, however, He’arot L’Masechet Sukka of Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (46a, s.v. chazina), who resolves the question from the Gemara and upholds the original suggestion of the Pri Megadim.
 Sukka 28b.
 O.C. 8:10
 See Shulchan Aruch, O.C. 24:1
 In practice, the Chemed Moshe is wary of ruling against the Tur and Shulchan Aruch, both of whom equate the mitzvot of tzitzit and tefillin.
 O.C. 37:2 and 25:4.
 Aishel Avraham, O.C. 37:2
 In fact, even according to those who argue with the Pri Megadim (see Levush, O.C. 37:2; Yeshuot Ya’akov, O.C. 37:1; Bi’ur Halacha, O.C. 37:2, s.v. mitzvatan) and maintain that there is a de’oraita obligation to wear tefillin all day, it stands to reason that since the practice developed to wear tefillin for only a short amount of time, it can no longer be considered obligatory to wear the tefillin again after they have been worn during a day.
 Commentary to Rosh, Hilchot Tzitzit 20, # 68.
 O.C. 8:14.
 O.C. 8:19.
 The Magen Avraham points out that while this interpretation of the yesh omrim does not fit the language of the Rema, it is compatible with how the opinion is presented in the Darkei Moshe, O.C. 8:7.
 O.C. 8:11.
 O.C. 8:37-38.