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MBY 34:1-4 Tefillin of ‘Rashi’ and ‘Rabbeinu Tam’
MBY 34:1-4 Tefillin of ‘Rashi’ and ‘Rabbeinu Tam’
For this siman, we will present a synopsis of the halachic background behind the curious practice of some Jews who wear two different pairs of tefillin.

As we have learned, each ‘bayis’ of tefillin contains four ‘parshiyos’ (paragraphs) from the Torah. In order of appearance in the Torah, they are:
1) ‘Kadesh’ – Shmos 13:1-10
2) ‘V’haya ki yevi’acha’ – Shmos 13:11-16
3) ‘Shema’ – Devarim 6:4-9
4) ‘V’haya im shamo-a’ – Devarim 11:13-21

All agree that the sofer (scribe) must write the ‘parshiyos’ of a given set in the order in which they appear in the Torah. Rashi (together with Rambam) and Rabbeinu Tam (Rashi’s grandson), two of the great ‘rishonim’ (early post-Talmudic authorities, whose opinions helped shape halachic practice) had a “minor” ‘machlokes’ (dispute) over the correct order of placement of the the parshiyos within the ‘batim’ (boxes). [Note: Remember that in the ‘bayis shel rosh’, each ‘parsha’ is written on a separate scroll, and in the ‘bayis shel yad’, they are all written, one after the other, on the same long scroll. The ‘machlokes’ between Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam applies to both the positioning of the scrolls within the ‘bayis shel rosh’ and the location of the written ‘parshiyos’ on the long scroll of the ‘bayis shel yad’.]

What is the basis of this ‘machlokes’? According to Rashi, the ‘parshiyos’ should be placed in the same order that they appear in the Torah and are written. According to Rabbeinu Tam, the order of the last two ‘parshiyos’ is reversed – with ‘Shema’ occupying place #4, and ‘V’haya im shamo-a’ occupying place #3. (Why? The exact reason for this ‘machlokes’ is a bit technical and beyond the scope of this lesson.)

Halacha accords, unanimously, with Rashi and the Rambam. The Shulchan Aruch writes that it is acceptable for a pious person who generally strives for a higher-than-required performance of mitzvos – e.g. fulfilling minority opinions, when not in conflict with the majority – to wear both types of tefillin. Clearly, it is not possible to fulfill both opinions within one pair. How, then, does one go about wearing two different types of tefillin?

Three options are provided:
a) Put on two pairs simultaneously! This would mean literally tightening both ‘batim’ on the arm at once, and both ‘batim’ on the head at once. In this way, the bracha/brachos (depending on Sephardic or Ashkenazic practice) are recited the same way as one would recite them on one pair.
b) First put on Rashi tefillin – shel yad and shel rosh – with the appropriate bracha/brachos, and then immediately put on Rabbeinu Tam tefillin next to them.

[Note: Except for the process of tying them, these first two options are identical, i.e. both require two pairs of tefillin that are considerably smaller than most, so that two pairs can be worn simultaneously, each fitting within the prescribed “boundaries”. Practically speaking, for the ‘shel yad’, the two ‘batim’ must lie along the biceps, one higher up than the other, and for the ‘shel rosh’ also, one ‘bayis’ must lie above the other – both in the center of the head!]

c) Put on the Rashi tefillin with brachos. When the time comes to take off the tefillin (see MBY 25:13), remove the Rashi tefillin, put them away, and then put the Rabbeinu Tam tefillin on without brachos. (Note: The Mishnah Berura does not endorse switching after ‘Kedusha’.)

The preferred option – for one who chooses to wear both – is the third, as you may have guessed. CAUTION: we are forbidden, by the Torah, to add to the mitzvos (Heb: ‘bal tosif’.) In order to dispel the thought that one is in violation of this precept, he must stipulate that he is only donning the Rabbeinu Tam tefillin in case the halacha accords with his view. If it does not, he does not intend to wear them for the sake of a mitzvah.

A few final points:
- No one should wear Rabbeinu Tam tefillin on Chol Hamoed!
- One should not adopt this practice without the guidance of a personal rabbinic mentor; it can easily be classified as ‘mechzei k’yuhara’ – i.e. “religious one-uppens”!

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