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Thursday, August 11, 2022
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Ashkenazic Approach

Many Ashkenazic yeshiva students wear their tzitzit out, in line with the Mishna Berura’s (8:26) powerful exhortation to do so. The Chafetz Chaim famously writes:

Those men who tuck their tzitzit in their pants, not only are they ignoring the Torah’s direction “ure’item oto,” you should see the tzitzit and thereby recall all the mitzvot (Bamidbar 15:39), they are degrading Hashem’s mitzvot and will be held accountable by Hashem for having done so!!

The Mishna Berura writes that if one received a special garment from the king with the latter’s name carved in it, he would proudly display it at all times. How much more so should we show the garment of the King of all Kings, Whose Holy Name is alluded to in the tying of the tzitzit!

The Aruch Hashulhan (Orah Haim 8:17), while using milder language, expresses a similar sentiment. He notes that baseline halacha does not require a man to wear tzitzit outside his pants. Nonetheless, he writes, “Why should one be embarrassed about performing Hashem’s mitzvot?” He concludes that Torah authorities are not pleased with men who tuck their tzitzit inside their pants. However, he makes an exception for those who find it highly impractical.

 

Sephardic Approach

As is well-known, Rav Ovadia Yosef (Teshuvot Yehave Da’at 2:1) marshals a boatload of evidence that runs contrary to the strong words of the Mishna Berura and Aruch Hashulhan.

Rav Ovadia begins by noting that the Rishonim already debate this matter. Moreover, many Rishonim, including the Ba’al HaItur, Rabbenu Yonah, and the Maharam MiRutenberg, agree that the Torah does not require one to wear one’s tzitzit out.

Moreover, the Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim 24:1) uses much more mild language than the Mishna Berura or the Aruch Hashulhan. The Shulhan Aruch merely writes that “it is proper to wear tzitzit outside one’s garments.” The Shulhan Aruch implies that one is not required to wear tzitzit out and is not frowned upon for not doing so.

In addition, Rav Ovadia notes that the broad consensus of top-tier poskim, including the Shulhan Aruch (Orah Haim 23 and Yoreh Deah 367:4) and even the Mishna Berura (23:3), permit men to wear tzitzit in a cemetery since they customarily wear them tucked inside their garments.

Finally, Rav Yosef notes that Kabbalistic authorities believe it is proper to wear tzitzit inside one’s garments. Rav Haim Vital, the leading student of the Ari z”l, records (Sha’ar HaKavanot 7b) that the Ari wore his tzitzit inside his garments and even frowned on those who wear it outside. Maran HaHida (Birkei Yosef, Orah Haim 8:7 and Kesher Gudal 2:2) agrees.

Rav Ovadia notes that Sephardim follow the Ari z”l in “such matters” even when it runs counter to the view of the Shulhan Aruch. Rav Ovadia refers to matters of hiddur mitzvah (mitzvah enhancements) such as the directions of lulav waving and the shape of a sefer Torah’s letters.

Rav Ovadia notes that all venerated Sephardic authorities he witnessed as a young man wore their tzitzit inside. Rav Yitzhak Yosef relates that these great rabbanim include Rav Yaakov Sofer (the author of the authoritative Kaf HaHaim), Rav Ovadia Hadayah, and Rav Ezra Attia.

 

Application to Today’s Sephardic Teenagers

Rav Ovadia concludes that it is beautiful for Ashkenazic yeshiva students to express their pride in following Hashem’s ways and wear tzitzit outside their garments. Nonetheless, it is proper for Sephardic Jews to follow their tradition to keep tzitzit inside their clothes.

Nonetheless, Rav Yitzhak Yosef (Yalkut Yosef Orah Haim 8:46) writes that a Sephardic teenager who wishes to fortify his commitment to Torah may wear his tzitzit outside his garment. However, he notes that a Sephardic man should follow the traditional Sephardic practice of wearing the tzitzit inside one’s pants after marriage.

 

Conclusion

The Torah (Devarim 13:7-12) condemns the Mesit, one who tries to influence others to veer from the Torah path in an unparalleled harsh manner. However, the Torah thereby teaches that Hashem also bestows tremendous reward upon those who influence others to follow the Torah.

Teenage young men who wear tzitzit out make a profound statement. They are proudly broadcasting their pride and joy in observing Hashem’s mitzvot. The reward Hashem has in store for these young men is profound!

Therefore, I counseled the Sephardic TABC student to continue his outstanding practice wearing his tzitzit outside since he encourages himself and his schoolmates to embrace Torah observance enthusiastically. However, I reminded him that upon marriage, God willing, he should follow the traditional Sephardic practice of keeping tzitzit inside his garments.

 

Postscript

The TABC talmid who posed the question is a Moroccan Jew, so it is important to note that the Moroccan minhag is also to wear the tzitzit inside one’s garments. Two Moroccan luminaries, Rav Shalom Messas (in his haskama to Ptil Techelet) and Rav Moshe Malca (Teshuvot Mikveh Mayim 3:1), corroborate this assertion. Furthermore, the Baba Sali wore his tzitzit inside his garments, as is recorded in Ptil Techelet (page 238). In addition, Rav David Yosef (Halacha Berura volume one, Teshuvot Otzerot Yosef number 27) and Rav Mordechai Lebhar (Magen Avot, Orah Haim 8:11) write that all Sephardic communities wear tzitzit inside their garments.


Rabbi Haim Jachter is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Orah, the Sephardic Congregation of Teaneck. He also serves as a rebbe at Torah Academy of Bergen County and a dayan on the Beth Din of Elizabeth.

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