Rosh Chodesh: Removing Tefillin

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By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

On Rosh Chodesh the tefillin are removed before Mussaf.[1] There are two reasons for this. The first reason is related to the Mussaf liturgy. According to nusach sefard and sefardi, the Mussaf Kedusha opens with the words “keter yitnu lecha” (“We crown you, our Lord…”) referring to the teaching that the Jewish people, along with the angels, crown God as King of the world. It is explained that it would be unbecoming to make reference to God as the Supreme crowned being while one is wearing tefillin, which are considered to be a crown in their own right.[2] 

The second reason tefillin are removed before Mussaf is in order to add a Yom Tov flavor to the day. As Mussaf represents the Yom Tov nature of Rosh Chodesh the tefillin are removed at that time.[3] In fact, some authorities recommend removing the tefillin before the Torah reading as it also represents the Yom Tov nature of the day.[4] There are also those who recommend removing the tefillin before Hallel for the same reason.[5] Some suggest removing the tefillin after the Torah is returned to the aron kodesh.[6] Nevertheless, the halacha is not in accordance with any of these views.[7] 

As one will notice, widespread custom is to remove the tefillin after the kaddish that follows “uva l’tzion“.[8] Once the tefillin are removed they are usually just placed on a table and not properly put away and in most cases they are not even wrapped up. The reason for this is in order to minimize the interruption between the kaddish and the start of Mussaf.[9] Nevertheless, the tefillin should at least be covered before one begins Mussaf.[10] 

Although this approach is normative and based on kabbalisitc considerations,[12] there is reason to suggest that it might not be the ideal manner in which to conduct onself. According to a number of authorities the tefillin should be removed while reciting uva l’tzion, just before beginning the yehi ratzon paragraph.[13] Other sources seem to indicate that the tefillin should be removed after completing uva l’tzion but before the kaddish is recited.[14] Indeed, this approach is consistent with other occasions when there is some form of an interruption before Mussaf. For example, in most congregations the rabbi delivers the Shabbat morning drasha *before* the kaddish is recited. In this way, Mussaf can commence immediately after the kaddish with no interruptions.[15] 

Furthermore, leaving the tefillin exposed and unwrapped for the duration of Mussaf is unbecoming the reverence owed to them. In fact, according to halacha, whenever one removes tefillin one is to wrap and put away the shel-rosh before even removing the shel yad! There does not seem to be any good reason why this halacha should be ignored on Rosh Chodesh.[16] Folding the tefillin during the repetition of Mussaf is also not an option as one is required to listen attentively to the repetition and not engage in any other activities.[17] As such, the tefillin are left unwrapped and exposed for an exceptionally long time.[18] 

Therefore, it appears to me that the ideal procedure on Rosh Chodesh would be to remove, wrap, and put away the tefillin before the kaddish is recited. Once everyone finishes putting away their tefillin the kaddish can be recited and the entire congregation can begin Mussaf at once without any interruption. As mentoned, this is conssitent with other occasions when there is an interruption before Mussaf.

One who is in a congregation where the custom is to leave the tefillin unwrapped until after Mussaf is permitted to deviate from the congregational practice and to properly put away one’s tefillin before beginning the silent Mussaf. For a number of reasons beyond the scope of this post, there is no problem of lo titgodedu with doing so. Although it is indeed ideal to begin the shemoneh esrei at the exact same time as everyone else[19] one is still considered to have discharged tefilla b’tzibbur if one begins a few moments thereafter.[20]

[1] OC 25:13; Mishna Berura 25:59; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 10:19; Rivevot Ephraim 7:317.

[2] Mishna Berura 25:61; Shulchan Aruch Harav, OC 25:41.

[3] OC 423:4; Levush 25:13; Mishna Berura 423:10.

[4] Levush 423:4; Rema Mipano 108.

[5] Rema Mipano 108.

[6] Magen Avraham 28:30.

[7] Magen Avraham 423:6.

[8] Magen Avraham 25:30.

[9] Rambam, Hilchot Tefilla 9:13; Taamei Haminhagim, Inyanei Rosh Chodesh.

[10] Kaf Hachaim 28:7; Teshuvot V’hanhagot 1:45; Rivevot Ephraim 1:281:5.

[12] Magen Avraham 423:6, Pri Megadim, EA 423:6; Mishna Berura 25:59; Kaf Hachaim, OC 25:94,95.

[13] Mishna Berura 25:59.

[14] Siddur Baal Hatanya.

[15] Mishna Berura 25:59.

[16] Mishna Berura 28:8.

[17] Mishna Berura 124:17; Igrot Moshe, OC 4:19; Tzitz Eliezer 11:10.

[18] Pri Megadim, MZ 34:2.

[19] Mishna Berura 66:35.

[20] Igrot Moshe, OC 3:4. For more on the discussion of when to remove the tefillin on Rosh Chodesh see: Rivevot Ephraim 1:283.

About Ari Enkin

Rabbi Ari N. Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He is the author of the “Dalet Amot of Halacha” series (8 volumes), Rabbinic Director of United with Israel and a RA"M at a number of yeshivot.


  1. I don’t usually daven in shuls with drashot, but it seems to me that quite a few do them before kaddish. What better marker to start the amida?

    I seem to recall an explicit nosei keilim that says the tefillin should be wrapped. Artscroll ignores it, infamously.

    The “yehi ratzon” at the end of uva l’tzion is actually an adaptation of an extinct bracha that used to be said when the tefillin were removed. It’s therefore somewhat appropriate to remove tefillin there every day, but I’ve also heard a claim for the line “titkabel” in kaddish shalem.

    Didn’t the Rav say that tefillin should be left on throughout?

    Aren’t they removed (by those who wear them) on chol hamoed before hallel?

  2. Old minhag Ashkenaz is to leave tefillin on for mussaf.

  3. Hadardai-

    Please get me some sources on this!!

    Ari Enkin

  4. Just leave them on. It’s a mitzvah!

  5. Sephardic custom is to remove and wrap the tefillin after the qaddish. Since the reason we are removing them after qaddish is because we assume the qaddish is the conclusion of uva letzion and NOT an introduction to the amidah, it makes little sense to worry about interrupting between the qaddish and mussaf. Those who remove tefillin before the qaddish (some posqim, as you know, hold this way) reason that the qaddish is a prelude to mussaf and, as such, tefillin should be removed prior to its recitation.

  6. RJM-

    I dont get it. A ‘chatzi-kaddish’ is always in honor/preparation of the prayer that FOLLOWS it, not the one that preceeded it.

    Hence,the sefardic custom you cite has me a bit dizzy.

    Ari Enkin

  7. This is a big machloqet among the acharonim, I don’t have sefarim in front of me right now but if you look around you will see that there is a big debate here. I know it is brought in R’ Ovadyah Yosef’s sefarim, for example.

    With regard to hatzi qaddish – the qaddish after reading from the Sefer Torah is a concluding qaddish. North African qehillot conclude every tefillah – Shaharit, Minha and Arvit – with a hatzi qaddish, not a qaddish yatom. So it is not such a davar pashut really.

  8. I believe that the deraasha on Shabbos just before the Chazti Kaddish of Musaf is problematic since there is not supposed to be interruptions between Ashrei and the kaddish. In yeshivishe minyanim, where I usually daven, the dereshah is said either right after torah leining or after davening.

  9. Or, the derashah is said after kaddish shalem following Musaf and before ein kelokeinu.

  10. Or before the Torah is taken out.

  11. Nachum, yes that’s right! I forgot about that one.

  12. There are also those who recommend removing the tefillin before Hallel for the same reason.

    In a number of places I have seen a difference between what people do on Rosh Chodesh and on Chol ha Moed — on RH they remove it before Mussaf, whereas on ChM they remove it before Hallel. Any basis for that difference?

  13. Expanding on reason 1, here is what the Rav said about this topic

    The Shulhan Arukh indicates that one should remove his Tefillin before reciting Musaf. This halakhah is related to the Nusah Sefard custom of reciting the words keser yitnu lecha in the Musaf Kedushah. Tefillin is considered the crown of the Jew. In turn, God Himself is also portrayed as wearing Tefillin (Berakhot 6a). Man’s tefillin is referred to as tif’ara while God’s Tefillin is a keser. On a weekday, no keser is offered to God within Kedushah, because He is already wearing his keser – His Tefillin. On Shabbat and Yom Tov, however, Tefillin are worn neither by man nor God. The Medrash Rabbah in Vayikra states that the angels place a symbolic crown on God’s head, so to speak, a crown that is weaved from Israel’s prayers. We therefore symbolically replace His tefillin with a figurative crown, a keser on God’s head, so to speak, by reciting the words keser yitnu lecha in Musaf. [Thus, the meaning of the words which introduce the Nusach Sfard Kedushah for Musaf, keser yitnu lecha malachim hamonei maalah im amcha yisrael kevutzei mata is that the angels place a crown upon God’s head after having weaved the crown with the prayers of Israel] For this reason, on Shabbat and Yom Tov, on days when Tefillin are not worn, the Kedushah of Musaf is introduced with the words keser yitnu lecha ָ. Because the Sefardic custom is to recite keser yitnu lecha in Musaf of Rosh Hodesh as well, our Tefillin must also be removed prior to Musaf, reflecting the fact that God Himself does not wear His Tefillin at this point. However, Ashkenazim do not recite keser yitnu lecha as part of the Musaf Kedusha but rather say the words Nekadesh es shimcha ba’olam, words which contain no connotation regarding the wearing of tefillin. As a result, many Ashkenazic aharonim do not recommend that the Tefillin be removed prior to Musaf.

  14. Tal-

    Maybe because on a day when melacha is forbidden the tefillin are removed before Hallel, but on a day when it is permitted (Rosh Chodesh) – before Mussaf?

    Just a guess.

    Ari Enkin

  15. HaDarda”i on October 25, 2011 at 6:13 am

    Old minhag Ashkenaz is to leave tefillin on for mussaf.
    Ari Enkin on October 25, 2011 at 6:21 am


    Please get me some sources on this!!

    Ari Enkin


    If I may interject here, to lend a hand..

    There is a fine article in Yerushoseinu I (5767), entitled זמן חליצת תפילין לפי מנהג אשכנז, by R. Hillel Hofner, which discusses this at length.

    Here are some sources brought there, to keep them on for musaf.

    1) Taz סימן כה, ס”ק טז.

    2) דברי חמודות על הלכות קטנות להרא”ש, הלכות תפילין אות עד.

    3) Interestingly, the minhog not to remove tefillin before musaf on Chol Hamoed and Rosh Chodesh was even known among Italian Sepharadim, mentioned in שו”ת דבר שמואל, brought in שע”ת סי’ כה ס”ק כב.

    4) Maharil kept them on, brought in מנהגי וורמייזא of ר’ יוזפא שמש, ח”א, עמוד סג

    5) תרומת הדשן, brought in לקט יושר, עמוד 15, says to remove them after musaf kedushoh.

    6) מנהגות וורמייזא, עמוד קפג

  16. IIRC R’YBS was quoted as saying that if you can’t put the tfillin away in a bkavod manner, then leave them on.

    LOL on not doing it during chazarat hashatz- what’s folks experience on chol hamoed sukkot (for tfillin wearers and for those taking out lulav even if not wearing tfillin)


  17. What about someone davening beyechidut? It seems even more likely that he should leave them on.

  18. Shimon Altshul

    The Rema in OH25:13 cites the kabbalistic “consideration” for the tefillin to be worn during שלש קדושות וארבע קדישים which many authorities (including the Gra) amend to read ארבע קדושות ושלש קדישים Thus there would be an advantage to remove the tefillin after the קדיש תתקבל, not before.
    The Rav z”l felt very strongly that the tefillin should be properly wrapped up and put away before musaf is recited. If I recall correctly he quoted a Taz in that regard which I never found.

  19. “The Rema in OH25:13 cites the kabbalistic “consideration” for the tefillin to be worn during שלש קדושות וארבע קדישים which many authorities (including the Gra) amend to read ארבע קדושות ושלש קדישים Thus there would be an advantage to remove the tefillin after the קדיש תתקבל, not before.”

    I count 3 kaddeishim said already before Uva Letziyon: After Yishtabbach, after Hallel, and after Keriat Hattorah.
    If anything, the Gra’s emendation negates the need to wait until after kaddish even for the kabbalistic reasons brought in footnote 12 (see particularly the Magen Avraham there) and thus all would agree to remove them before the kaddish.

  20. On the Rav and wrapping tefillin before Musaf — there is a story in Nefesh HaRav of a gadol in Europe, upon hearing that his daughter is close to death, taking off his regular tefillin, putting on Rabbeinu Tam tefillin, then taking off and /b wrapping /b the RT tefillin, then going to see his daughter. This may the source from the Rav.

  21. Regarding removing Tefillin on Chol HaMoed, do the Shaliach Tzibbur and the Kahal remove the Tefillin at the same time?

    For those who don Tefillin on Chol HaMoed, the custom is for the Kahal to remove their Tefillin before Hallel. According to the Magen Avrohom (quoting Rabi Menachem Azarya), the Kahal removes their Tefillin before Hallel while the Shat”z only removes them after Hallel. The Levushei Serad explains this is because of Tircha DeTzibura.

    The Kahal removes the Tefilllin during the Chazarat HaShat”z but the Shat”z may not keep them waiting between the end of the Chazara and Hallel so that he may remove his own tefillin (unless it is Chol HaMoed Sukkot when people tend to their Lulav and Etrog before Hallel giving the Shat”z time to remove his tefillin). He, therefore, removes his Tefillin after Hallel.

    Now how much time does it take to remove one’s Tefillin? Yet, the Poskim were very concerned about Tircha DeTzibura.

    This illustrates the importance of not keeping the congregation waiting and the seriousness that our Rabbis attached to the issue of Tircha DeTzibura.

    Steven Oppenheimer, D.M.D.

  22. Ye’yasher kochakha, R. Enkin.
    The debate between yourself vs. R’ Joel Rich & Dr. Oppenheimer as to whether the congregation may be occupied with removing/wrapping tefillin while listening to chazarat hasha”tz appears to parallel a debate whether one may learn Torah during chazarat hasha”tz, a debate presented in Piskei Teshuvot (by R. Simchah Rabinowitz) to Mishnah Berurah, OC 124, letter “chet”.

  23. I daven in a superfast minyan and still have time, as chazzan, to wrap the tefillin fully before the silent amida. It only takes about thirty seconds or so.

  24. shimon a / ariel:

    would the fact that nusach sfard doesnt care about the “kedusha” aspect of u’va le’tzion mean anything in this context?

  25. MiMedinat HaYam

    anon 7:19pm was me

  26. Sorry, a little over a minute.

  27. I heard it said (from Rabbi Yossi Paltiel) that Lubavitch chassidim who put on Rabbeinu Tam tefillin are meticulous not to take off their Rashi tefillin until after Uvo Letzion because of Kedusha in it. I am not sure about the specific connection of Uvo Letzion and Kedusha to tefillin.

    There is a ma’amor from the Lubavitcher Rebbe where he discusses how different parts of davening correspond to a soul’s journey through the four worlds. Karbanos and the beginning of the davening are Asiyah, Psukei D’Zimra are Yetzira (emotions), Birchos Kriyas Shmah and K”Sh are Briyah (contemplation), S”E is Atzilus. Then, going back down, putting down your head is going out of Atzilus, U’Vo Letzion is Briyah, Song of the Day is Yetzira, and Aleinu is Asiyah.

    Again, not sure what the connection is to wearing tefillin. I am sure it’s discussed somewhere.

  28. I also daven at a superfast minyan and generally have time to put my Tefilin away completelty before the Chatzi Kaddish before Musaf.

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