Thursday, April 21, 2011

A time-saver?

Some have the tradition not to wear tefillin during Chol HaMoed (the intermediate days on which one is permitted to work in the middle of a Pilgrimage Festival). I'm inclined to wonder whether the fact that one must add the Yaaleh v'Yavo prayer to the Amidah prayer, add the Hallel psalms, and add the Musaf (Additional) Amidah prayer and still get to work on time might have something to do with that.


Blogger Miami Al said...

A guy asks his Rebbe, should I wear Tefillin on Chol Hamoed.

The Rebbe asks, "Did your father wear Tefillin on Chol Hamoed?"

The guy responds, "No he didn't."

The Rebbe responds, "Then you shouldn't either."

The guy tells the Rebbe, "But my father didn't wear Tefillin during the rest of the year either."

The Rebbe responds, "No, don't do that."

Thu Apr 21, 12:47:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Another wiseguy heard from. :)

Thu Apr 21, 01:00:00 PM 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your theory doesn't work since Hasidim don't wear tefilin on Chol Hamoed and they are usually more strict about not working then.
Also no one in Israel wears tefilin on Chol Hamoed and it is much easier to take the whole week off there.
I have met a lot of older Conservative Jews who were under the false impression that since they were retired (ie "didn't work") they didn't need to put on tefilin on Chol Hamoed regadless of what their family custom was.)
Miami Al, I have been to Conservative Temples at which no one wore tefilin on regular weekdays except for the Rabbi, the Chazan, one guy in his 90's and me.

Thu Apr 21, 01:21:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Well, so much for that idea.

"I have been to Conservative Temples at which no one wore tefilin on regular weekdays except for the Rabbi, the Chazan, one guy in his 90's and me."

Tell me about it. :( Back in the good old days when our synagogue was still holding morning minyan on Mondays and Thursdays, I frequently found myself the only minyan attendee wearing tefillin if my husband were home sick or had to leave early to teach a morning class. :( On the other hand, all the men, and some of the women, at my "kaddish minyan" (at the egalitarian Conservative synagogue where I said kaddish for my mother) wore tefillin. But not on Chol HaMoed. :)

Thu Apr 21, 01:33:00 PM 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A leading Orthodox Rabbi once told me that as my father had no established custom (he put Tefilin on only rarely) I should wear tefilin if I worked on a particular chol ha-moed and not when I didn't. The reasoning as I understood it was that the moe one engaged in secular pursuits the more one need the spiritual innoculation of tefilin.

In general, according to many scholars including Rav Herschel Schechter at YU, the authentic tradition is to wear tefilin. The common practice not to is based on the Zohar and mysticism.

Thu Apr 21, 02:03:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

I used to wear tefillin on Chol HaMoed, until I went to my "kaddish minyan" on Chol HaMoed Sukkot, and saw that no one, including the rabbi, was wearing tefillin. Not having a tradition from my father regarding wearing tefillin on Chol HaMoed, since he's never worn tefillin, I didn't think I was under any obligation to "out-frum" the rabbi.

Thu Apr 21, 03:17:00 PM 2011  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your father _never_ wore tefilin?
Not even once as a kid?

Thu Apr 21, 03:47:00 PM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Honestly, I don't know. But, considering the fact that his own father died when he was a pre-schooler and he got such a minimal Jewish education that he couldn't recite kiddush beyond "Borei p'ri hagafen," I would be surprised to learn that he *had* laid tefillin. That said, he used to go straight from the "graveyard shift" (10 PM-6 AM) to shul to make sure that they got a minyan, and he *always* insisted on reading the entire Haggadah, albeit in English, no matter how many of our guests had already left.

Thu Apr 21, 05:27:00 PM 2011  
Anonymous jdub said...


You joke, but that story happened to me, although my "rebbe" was a professor at JTS (one of the last of the old generation European rabbis who taught there).

I asked him and he said "there are three minhagim" (picture this with a high pitched yiddish accent), "wear it with the brakha, wear it without the brakha, or don't wear it at all, what does your father do?"

I said "he doesn't wear tefillin"
"Well, that's what you should do."
"But he doesn't wear tefillin at all."
"No,no, no don't do that, don't do that."

No joke, pre-Sukkot 1989, Professor Israel Francus. Emes ha'Torah, i promise.

Fri Apr 22, 07:42:00 AM 2011  
Blogger Miami Al said...


I read the story online. Perhaps it was from you! :)

Chag Sameach, Shabbat Shalom!

Fri Apr 22, 09:55:00 AM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

JDub, one of the more interesting aspects of becoming more observant than one's parents is precisely the question of what minhag (custom) one should observe for practices that one's own parents didn't observe. A semi-retired blogger (who might wish to remain anonymous) once joked on his own blog that, since his father didn't lay tefillin, he followed the minhag of his yeshiva.

I assume that I'm not the only woman who finds herself in the interesting position of having to chose her own minhag for laying tefillin. Even in the non-Orthodox movements, there aren't many women whose mothers lay/laid tefillin, and, among the non-Orthodox, many of our fathers don't/didn't lay tefillin either.

Fri Apr 22, 10:06:00 AM 2011  
Anonymous jdub said...

Al, it may be, I've posted the story before (maybe even on this blog?) But trust me, I'm no hasid.

Fri Apr 22, 11:50:00 AM 2011  
Anonymous Woodrow/Conservadox said...

Another reason why I don't (leaving aside the reasons discussed above)- since I am not tremendously careful about where I pray in my apartment, there's probably a few chametz crumbs in my tefillin bag, and I'd rather just put it away with the other things I don't want to search, since I don't see any easy way of cleaning either the tefillin or the bag 100%!

Sat Apr 23, 11:55:00 PM 2011  
Anonymous Woodrow/Conservadox said...

By the way, I went to my Orthodox shul's minyan this morning. Out of 20 congregants, only 3 wore tefillin. The rabbi wasn't among them. So certainly the majority doesn't. (Caveat: I have no idea whether the result would be the same on a weekday since I didn't wake up early enough for the weekday Chol Hamoed minyanim!)

PS Will be moving to NYC at the end of this summer!

Sun Apr 24, 10:39:00 AM 2011  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Nice point about not being able to clean chametz from tefillin.

Nu, if you're within walking distance after your move to NYC, come on over for Shabbos!

Sun Apr 24, 04:06:00 PM 2011  

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