Lilmod v'La'asos - Bringing the Mitzvos to Life - Excepts from Torah Emeth in-house Dirshu halacha shiur. A project of the Daf Hayomi Institute
THE CHAZON ISH
Last week, we left off saying that the Chazon Ish wore a cotton tallis Kattan. Did he not agree with the Mishnah Beruras synopsis that a yirei shamayim should wear wool? In fact, it is recorded that the Vilna Gaon wore cotton as well. Let us begin by understanding why the Gaon was not concerned
with the Mechaber’s view that only talleisim made of wool or linen are obligated min hatorah. There are known to be two possible explanations.
R’ Shmuel Salant suggested that the Gaon was already fulfilling the mitzvah min hatora since he wore a woolen tallis gadol the entire day. It was not necessary to do the mitzva twice. Furthermore by wearing a cotton tallis katan there was a chance to gain an additional mitzvah he would otherwise not have if he had worn wool. Since cotton, according to the Mechaber, is only obligated midrabanan, it is possible he would be fulfilling the mitzvah of “Loh Sasir” which means that one should comply with the gezeiros of Chaza”l. By wearing both wool and cotton the Goan may have gained two separate mitzvos.
Siach Eliyahu suggests that the Gaon was concerned with a shatnez issue. There is a view that wearing a wool or linen garment directly one on top of the other is considered shatnez, especially if the bottom one can’t be removed without first taking off the upper garment. Since they used to make linen undershirts, wearing a tallis katan made of wool on top of it would be violating shatnez according to this stringency. The Gaon felt it was not worth entering a question of shatnez in exchange of a hidur in the mitzvah of tsitsis.
However, both reasons still do not justify the way of the Chazon Ish. The Chazon Ish did not wear a tallis gadol the whole day nor was there any issue with shatnez . So, we are back at where we started. Why did the Chazon Ish wear cotton?!
The Steipler asked the Chazon Ish, who replied, ”The Gaons motive behind wearing cotton was to publicly demonstrate that the halachah is with the Rema. Since the Goan wore cotton we follow his practice.”
REB CHAIM KANIEVSKY SHLIT”A
Reb Chaim Kanievsky Shlit”a commented that he never fully understood the meaning of this comment, however it is possible that the Chazon Ish wished to conceal his true reason. In speculation about what that reason may be, Reb Chaim Shlit”a suggests it was based on a Tosfos in Nida(61: D”H Aval) . Tosfos seems to imply that if one is not having any pleasure from wearing a garment, the garment is exempt from tzitzis. The Chazon Ish was afraid that in Bnei Brak’s high temperatures it may be impossible to derive any pleasure from a woolen tallis kattan rendering it exempt from tzitzis according to Tosfos’s view. (Reb Chaim admits that his explanation only suffices during the summer months, but added that perhaps the Chazon Ish felt it was not enough of an issue to necessitate one to have two tallis katans).
Reb Shlomo Zalman Orbach Ztz”l, however, clearly writes that even if one does not derive any pleasure from a garment it is still considered “wearing” and therefore is obligated in tzitzis, including the brachah.
The following are three questions posed to R’ Chaim Kanievsky Shlit”a.
Question: Is it preferable to wear a tallis katan made from wool rather than other materials?
Answer: according to the Mishna Berrura one should be mehader in this, however this is not the minhag.
Question: If one is not a talmid, or a talmid of a talmid, of the chazon ish should he go with the opinion of the the Mishna Berura and wear wool tzitzis?
Answer: One is not obligated to be stringent.
Question: Is it okay for one who is accustomed to wearing wool tzitis to switch to wearing cotton because of his discomfort during the summer months?
Answer: He should make a Hatars nedarim.
Tzitzis on Jackets?!
Are you supposed to have tzitzis sewn on to your suit jacket? In theory a suit jacket should require tzitzis since it has four corners. The custom is not to put tzitzis on jackets, but the Bais Yosef among others struggle to try and explain this custom. The Bais Yosef’s answers that only clothing which is meant to protect the body from heat or cold is obligated in tzitzis. Even though the suit fills this purpose as well, since the suit is originally intended for formal dress it is therefore exempt from tzitzis.
The Rema strongly refutes this thought saying “It is worthless to me”. If that is the case, asks the Rema, how can we be fulfilling a mitzvah with the tallis kattan since the entire purpose for wearing it is for the mitzvah and not for protection?
Why do jackets not need tzitzis?
To be continued.