T’cheles (likely authentic blue) Tzitzis

The Shulchan Aruch includes a disagreement between the Mechaber (R Yosef Karo) and the (Ashkenazi) Ramo. The Mechaber’s view is that the strings should be the same colour as the four cornered garment they are attached to. In that vein someone wearing a Kapote which is black and has four square edges, would need to wear black Tzitzis. That’s my understanding of the Mechaber. The Ramo states that Minhag Ashkenazim is different. Ashkenazim don’t look at the colour of the garment as determinant, rather they always wear white. Undoubtedly this is not a Minhag from the time immemorial. Rather, when the Jews had preserved the tradition of Tcheles from generation to generation it is reasonable to conclude that the strings were not all white. Indeed, we see even amongst Sefardim like the Rambam, and others such as the Ra’avad and Tosfos different ways to utilise and incorporate the Techeles string.

The tradition of Identifying/finding Techeles was lost. There is the famous Radziner Rebbe who thought he identified Tcheles, and the subsequent debunking of the Radziner Techeles by Chief Rabbi Herzog and others. About 15 years ago the murex trunculus (as I recall, I could be mistaken with the exact name) enjoyed very strong halachic and scientific support as being authentic T’cheles.

Rav Soloveitchik opposed attempts to identify and conclude what T’cheles was as he was very much the Masoretic Jew from Beis HoRav (stretching to the Vilna Gaon). As such, where a mesora/tradition was lost, that was the end of the story, and one would need a Novi/Melech HaMoshiach to confirm the source of the T’cheles blue.

According to Kaballah, the Sefer Hachasidim related that he saw in a prophetic image that God wore white Tzitzis on a completely white garment.

The Mishna Brura opines that it is best to wear a pure white garment and white Tzitzis, as in this way one fulfills both the opinion of the Ramoh and the Mechaber.

It is rumoured that the last Lubavitcher Rebbe’s father, Reb Levi Yitzchok הי׳ד who was an accomplished Kabbalist, wore a plain white Tallis and white Tzitzis.

Mori V’Rabbi Rav Hershel Schachter argues that today, based on the Gemora in Menachos 40a, that the Gemora states explicitly that someone who wears Indigo coloured strings as a substitute for Techeles is fulfilling the Torah command of Tzitzis. Therefore since in our day we have something which can be called ספק תכלת, possibly Techeles, there is a cogent argument to no longer follow the Ramoh’s custom, and to wear modern T’cheles, since it’s a ספק דאורייתא, a Torah doubt, for which we normally are careful to be concerned about.

Clearly, Rav Schachter, arguably the most accomplished of the Rav’s Talmidim, doesn’t agree with his Rebbe, Rav Soloveitchik (during which time this T’cheles wasn’t yet (re)discovered.

Rav Schachter opines that Rav Elyashiv’s view that one should continue wearing white, must be based on a reason that Rav Schachter didn’t merit to understand. I seem to recall Rav Schachter meeting with Rav Elyashiv and this was one of their conversations.

I have a set of the first T’cheles of the new type that have been sitting in my cupboard for many years. I haven’t looked into the matter since I read Rav Soloveitchik’s view.

I’m interested in any views which may differ from the rather compelling logic and psak of Rav Schacter. I know that Chassidim (and today’s Litvaks are no different) look to their Master and follow their Rebbe/Daas Torah behaviour and practices.

I’m interested in halachic arguments against Rav Schachter’s logic.

Tzitzis in the Urinal, Part 2

I had previously written a blog post without looking anything up (not a good idea) but anyway, I had a hunch it was a reasonable question.

In the comments section, there is an interchange between myself and a Choshuve Rav on what I had written. On Shabbos morning, I went for the ערוך השלחן who was the prime Posek for both Lithuanian and Polish Jewry (in terms of an Acharon who had put together a smaller version of the Shulchan Aruch). There was much politics about two of his rulings which caused him to be “abandoned”. He shouldn’t have been, but that’s our crooked society. The Chayei Adam was also important, and for Chassidim, especially Chabad, the Shulchan Aruch HoRav was the decisive Shulchan Aruch (the latter sadly has parts missing due to a tragic fire).

Either way, the style of the Aruch Hashulchan is not for the masses. He usually starts from the Gemoras and Rishonim and ends up with his Psak. He is, in my opinion, far more decisive that the Mishna Brura who  tends to list important Acharonim and in the end often concludes according to the majority, even though you can “tell” from the gist of what he holds that he might disagree with them. That’s my opinion anyway. Your mileage may differ.

So, I was rather uplifted to see the Aruch Hashulchan (who started off as a Rav in a Lubavitch town of all places) write as follows

סימן כא סעיף ו

וכתבו בסעיף ג:

מותר ליכנס בציצית לבית הכסא, וכל שכן לשכב בהן דשרי. ויש שכתבו שנהגו שלא לישכב בטלית שיש בו ציצית, גם שלא ליתנו לכובסת כותית לכבס. והכל שלא יהיו מצות בזויות עליו. אך נוהגים להקל לשכב בהם.

עד כאן לשונו. ואינו מובן טעם האוסרים לישכב בטלית: אטו גריעא שכיבה ממרחץ ובית הכסא?

ונראה לי דטעמם: דכבר בררנו דהכל מודים דדבר של בזיון אסור אף כשנפסלו הציצית, וקל וחומר בכשרותן. ולכאורה הכניסה לבית הכסא ולמרחץ הא הוי דרך בזיון. וצריך לומר הטעם כמו שכתבתי, שכן דרכם של בני אדם ואי אפשר באופן אחר רק בטורח מרובה. ולכן השכיבה, שדרך בני אדם לפשוט בגדיהם – אם כן הוה בזיון כשישכוב בטלית. אך רבינו הרמ”א הכריע שנוהגים להקל לישכב בהם. והטעם: דלא חשבינן זה לבזיון כלל.

(ואדרבא האר”י ז”ל שכב בטלית קטן, כמו שכתב המגן אברהם סעיף קטן ב’.)

ויש מי שכתב דכל זה הוא בטלית קטן. אבל בטלית גדול העשוי רק להתפלל בו – אין ליכנס בו לבית הכסא (ט”ז סעיף קטן ג’). ובוודאי כן הוא, שהרי אין טורח לפושטו, ואם כן נחשב בזיון כשילך בו לבית הכסא או למרחץ. ונכון להקפיד להפשיט הטלית גם בעת יציאתו לקטנים. וכן אנו נוהגים, והכל מטעם שבארנו.

He discusses the practice of people sleeping in Tzitzis, and says how could this be forbidden if one says its permitted to go into the toilet (they didn’t have urinals) with Tzitzis, surely the latter is a bigger issue. He then says that in essence everyone agrees that it’s not respectful to take the Tzitzis into a toilet, even if the Tzitzis became Posul, and how much more so if they are Kosher. (Note: he isn’t talking about the Tallis for davening which everyone says one should take off). The Aruch Hashulchan then boldly says (and in my opinion it is logical and correct) that really if we think about it, taking Tzitzis into a Toilet (or smelly Urinal) really isn’t an honourable thing. The same applies to a bath house (I have heard that Chassidim leave their Shtreimels outside the Mikvah). We must conclude that “this is what people do, and it’s a real hassle to remove your Tzitzis each time you need to go the toilet”

Now, returning to my original question, one could argue (and I repeat, I am not a Posek) that simply tucking the Tzitzis in and going to a urinal, is preferable to leaving them hanging out. I would argue that this is not a major undertaking.That being said, IF I was a Posek, I think my answer to someone who asked me, would be that since you asked, I suggest that you tuck them in. You obviously have the sensitivity and it is the correct thing to do.

Interestingly, R’ Shea Hecht told me this morning that the famous R’ Lazar Doovid Freedman, used to take his Tallis Kotton off completely, before he went to the Beis HaKiseh. Now, I can’t recall, but I think he wore it OVER his shirt, at any rate, R’ Shea asked him why, and he answered that he has reasons.

I started to look into the Mishna Brura and elsewhere on Shabbos afternoon (I hadn’t had a shloof) and then found myself asleep with my head in the Mishna Brura. At any rate …

PS. I asked Rabbi Telsner on Shabbos morning if you could take a Shofar into the Beis HaKisei (I’m talking about perhaps in Marcheshvan where you aren’t using it) and mentioned to him that I’m not asking a klotz kasha. He answered that it was a good question.

There is probably a good answer to this but …

On Shabbos, while in the male urinal, I stood next to a guy who was wearing his gartel. I admonished him and said that the gartel was a הכנה for davening. I don’t believe it is necessary today, but I wear one because my Zayda Yidel HaCohen Balbin ע’’ה did (and on Yom Kippur I wear his Gartel, as he passed away on Yom Kippur)

ר׳ יהודה הכהן בלבין before WW2

The guy thought and said, “you know, you’re right”

Anyway, when I was younger and devoted some time each day to Mishna Brura, I remember being inspired by his words regarding wearing Tzitzis out, as opposed to in. I don’t include the uncouth manner of some who wear their shirts out of their pants as well today, something I don’t understand unless one wears a Kapote covering it (I see boys from the local Yeshiva all dressed like that, and personally I don’t agree with that practice).

Getting back to the Mishna Brura, in his usual way (not Litvish) of quoting all opinions he wrote very strongly that one should wear the Tzitzis out, as if he was a proud member of Hashem’s army. That was when I was in Kerem B’Yavneh. From that time on, I followed the Mishna Brura. (Ironically, the major Posek was actually the Aruch Hashulchan, but he was then considered controversial for very bad reasons by Hungarians, but in Lita and elsewhere they followed the Aruch Hashulchan).

Anyway, to my question. I don’t wear a suit jacket to work. My Tzitzis have always hung visibly at University. I am sure it didn’t help, but I don’t and didn’t care. I wear a shirt and pants, generally. In winter its warm and in summer it’s cool. It’s natural.  I walked into the bathroom, and went to the urinal to do what men do. In Universities, they don’t exactly smell “wonderful” once the students are in season. I left the Urinal and asked myself for the first time (I don’t know why) whether I should have tucked in my tzitzis before entering. At the end of the day, although the Mitzvah of Tzitzis is not a Chovas Gavro but a Chovas Cheftza, the Tzitzis themselves are M’aaseh Mitzvah. I haven’t looked to see  if this has been discussed anywhere (many Poskim/Haredim wear jackets and Yibitzes which cover the Tzitzis).

For Sephardim who follow the Zohar and Ari, this isn’t a question because they aren’t allowed to wear their Tzitzis out from memory because it’s considered Yuharo (showing off).

Am I asking a silly question?

PS. I’ve also mentioned to Meshichisten who have the advertisement on their Yarmulka that they should turn it inside out before entering a bathroom in my opinion.