Have Questions or Comments?
Leave us some feedback and we'll reply back!

    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)

    Phone Number)

    In Reference to

    Your Message


    Should we be careful to wear tzitzis when praying the evening ma’ariv service? Rav Mordechai Eliyahu (Responsa Ma’amar Mordechai, vol. 2 no. 3) explores this question.


    The argument in favor goes as follows: We are careful to wear tefillin and tzitzis while reciting Shema in the morning because the third paragraph includes the obligation to wear tefillin and tzitzis. If we fail to wear them while reciting the obligation, we are testing falsely, or rather to our own faults.

    Rav Eliyahu gives a fairly brief answer, which I will expand further and add sources. Magen Avraham (24:3) quotes the Zohar as saying that if you read Shema without wearing tzitzis, you are testifying falsely about yourself. Machatzis Ha-Shekel (ad loc.), a supercommentary to the Magen Avraham, argues that this requirement can be traced even to the Gemara.

    The Gemara (Berachos 14b) says that someone who recites Shema without wearing tefillin testifies falsely. But that is just about tefillin. Rashi (ad loc., sv. ) explains that he testifies falsely about G-d, who said that we will wear tefillin but we do not. Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah (ad loc., sv. ) explains that he testifies falsely about himself, for failing to fulfill the commandment he reads. This logic, the Machatzis Ha-Shekel argues, can also be applied to the commandment of tzitzis.

    The Pri Megadim (ad loc., Eshel Avraham 3) agrees with the Machatzis Ha-Shekel. He also quotes Tosafos (Menachos 43b sv. chosam), who say that tzitzis testify that the Jews are servants of G-d — note the language of “testify.”


    From all this, you could conclude that you must also wear tzitzis while reciting Shema at night. Rav Eliyahu does not discuss this but you could ask why we are not also discussing wearing tefillin at night while reciting Shema. Isn’t that commandment also mentioned in the third paragraph of Shema? I would answer that the commandment of tefillin does not apply at night, therefore you are not testifying falsely by refraining from wearing them at night. While tzitzis also does not apply at night, authorities debate whether that means we are exempt from wearing tzitzis at night or night-time clothes (e.g. pajamas) are exempt from tzitzis. According to this latter opinion, we would still be testifying falsely by reciting Shema at night without wearing tzitzis.

    However, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 24:1) only says that you should be careful to wear tzitzis while reciting Shema, not that you must. From this, Rav Eliyahu deduces that there is no concern about testifying falsely. This admonition is for a different reason, which Rav Eliyahu does not explain. While he does not quote it, the Bi’ur Ha-Gra (ad loc.) also says that this is not a rule (de-mi-dina ein tzarich). Interestingly, the Aruch Ha-Shulchan does not quote any of this, implying he disagrees with even the stringency.


    Additionally, while Rav Eliyahu does not discuss this, the Maharsha seemingly disagrees with the Machatzis Ha-Shekel. The Maharsha (Chiddushei Aggados, Berachos 14b sv. kol) connects the false testimony to tefillin because it is one of the three signs of G-d’s covenant with Israel (together with circumcision and Shabbos). According to this explanation, you cannot extend the concept of false testimony from tefillin to tzitzis because the latter is not one of the three signs.

    Similarly, Rav Meir (Maharam) of Rothenburg (Responsa, no. 273) discusses the case of someone who sent a messenger to bring his tallis for morning davening. The messenger only arrived after Shema and the owner put the tallis on with a blessing between Shema and Amidah, when normally you are forbidden to say extraneous blessings. Maharam Rothenburg objects that tefillin is connected to Shema but not tzitzis. Therefore, the man had no justification to put on his tallis between Shema and Amidah. (See also Hagahos Maimoniyos, Hilchos Keri’as Shema 3:2.)

    According to Maharam Rothenburg and Maharsha, tzitzis are not required for Shema. Therefore, while it is good to wear tzitzis when reciting Shema, and not removing your tzitzis before ma’ariv, this does not rise to the level of an obligation.