29 January 2006

The Arukh haShulhan on Women & Tefillin

The Arukh haShulhan, composed by the scholar, Rabbi Yechiel Michel ben Rabbi Aaron HaLevi Epstein (1829-1908) has further to contribute to the conversation about women wearing tefillin.
In section 38.6 of Orah Hayyim, he wrote the following:
נשים ועבדים פטורים מתפילין מפני שהיא מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא דשבת ויו"ט פטור מתפילין ואם רוצין להחמיר על עצמן מוחין בידן ולא דמי לסוכה ולולב שפטורות ועכ"ז מברכות עליהן דכיון דתפילין צריך זהירות יתירה מגוף נקי כדאמרינן בשבת [מ"ט.] תפילין צריכין גוף נקי כאלישע בעל כנפים ובירושלמי ברכות שם אמרו תמן אמרין כל שאינו כאלישע בעל כנפים אל יניח תפילין אך אנשים שמחויבים בהכרח שיזהרו בהם בשעת ק"ש ותפלה ולכן אין מניחין כל היום כמ"ש בסי' הקודם וא"כ נשים שפטורות למה יכניסו עצמן בחשש גדול כזה ואצלן בשעת ק"ש ותפלה כלאנשים כל היום לפיכך אין מניחין אותן להניח תפילין ואע"ג דתניא בעירובין [צ"ו.] דמיכל בת שאול היתה מנחת תפילין ולא מיחו בה חכמים אין למידין מזה דמסתמא ידעו שהיא צדקת גמורה וידעה להזהר וכן עבדים כה"ג [עמג"א סק"ג וב"י ולפמ"ש א"ש]:
"Women and servants are exempt from tefillin since it is a positive time-bound commandment "(quoting from the Shulhan Arukh), that shabbasos and holidays one is exempt from tefillin. "And if they want to be stringent upon themselves, they should be reprimanded" (quoting from the Mapah on the Shulhan Arukh), and it is similar to neither sukkah nor lulav that they are exempt. And even so, they bless on them since tefillin require an extra carefulness of a clean body, as we say [that Rabbi Yannai said] in Shabbas (49a): "Tefillin require a clean body like Elisha, master of wings." And in the Yerushalmi Berakhos (2.3) there, they say “they said, ‘All who is not like Elisha’, master of wings, should not lay tefillin.’” Only men who are obligated, per se, that they should be careful in them at the time of the reading out of the Shema’ and prayer. Therefore, they don’t place them on all day, like it is written in the previous section. And if so, women, who are exempt, why should they bring themselves into a great concern like this? And by them at the time of the reading out of the Shema’ and prayer, like for men all day; therefore, we shouldn’t allow them to lay them on. Even though it was taught [in a beraisa] in Eruvin (96a) that “Mikhal, daughter of Sha’ul, wore tefillin and the sages did not admonish her,” we do not learn from this, because we already know that she was a totally righteous woman and she knew to be careful. And, so, too, with servants.

As I had mentioned in my previous posting, I still think that women not only maintain (at least in our Western society) as clean of a body, but perhaps even cleaner bodies, and would most likely not be in any ספק (doubt) of cleanliness.
Not totally relevant to this, is in the following section (OC 38.7) where he wrote that one is to be careful from thinking sexual thoughts about women while wearing tefillin - I think this is not widely relevant to this discussion (nevertheless, women can still be distracted by others, whether if they are bisexual or lesbian; see, for instance, BlackHerring's comments elsewhere).


Drew Kaplan said...

To save you some time scrolling through the comments, I'll post here BlackHerring's comment to which I was referring:

Girls being sexy during davening - I happen to be bi, which rather undermines your assumption that I can't possibly understand what you go through. On the whole, I find women a good deal more alluring than men.
I know perfectly well the kind of distracting effect that pretty girls can have, but I don't think that they should remove themselves from my view to help me control myself. If I'm in shul sitting right behind an extremely attractive butt, that's my problem, not hers.

Anonymous said...

1. Regardless of whether women are more or less capable of maintaining a "guf naki" than men, the point is that unlike sukkah and lulav, laying tefillin can actually be counterproductive for a woman if they happen to do so without the proper nakius. Since they are not obligated, the prudent course of action is that they should avoid doing so based upon this concern. This is the basis for the ruling that we are to prevent them from doing so - their stringency has the liklihood of becoming a leniency.

2. Guf naki refers usually not only to physical cleanliness, but also includes breaking wind, which is equally common to men and women.

Gatos Hombre said...

anonymous, see my comment on the last post...."guf Naki" has a specific meaning in hilchos tefillon...It is not refering to whether u are dirty or not with dirt etc. Rather it refers to bodily functions like flatulants and feces etc.

Anonymous said...

Gatos: See my previous comment #2 where I pointed out precisely that, highlighting the flaw in Drew's "women are cleaner" line of reasoning.

Tim Lieder said...

So you're saying that women are more inclined to let er rip and fart away?

Well that might be true of my mom and grandmother but I don't see it in other women.