skip to Main Content

Q&A from the Bais HaVaad Halacha Hotline

Keeping Watch

April 27, 2023

Q May I keep my watch on my wrist while wearing tefillin?

A The Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 27:4) writes, “There must not be any chatzitzah (obstruction) between the tefillin and one’s skin, whether the shel yad or the shel rosh.” The Rama comments, “This applies only to the actual tefillin, not to the retzuos.” Accordingly, one may wear a watch. But the Magein Avraham (ibid. 5) is hesitant about this leniency, and the Biur HaGra and Pri Megadim (ibid. M.Z. 4) concur. The Mishnah Brurah (ibid. 14) only forbids a chatzitzah under the retzuah at the first coil, above the elbow. Contemporary poskim write that the custom is to follow the stringent view and not wear a watch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 2:26).

Some suggest that a watch with a leather band should be permitted under the principle of min bemino eino chotzeitz (an object of the same material is not a chatzitzah). But various poskim contend that that principle is inapplicable here (see Cheishev Ha’eifod 1:21 and Doveiv Meisharim 2:37).

The Yabia Omer (O.C. 2:2) writes that a watch may be worn lechat’chilah under the seventh coil of the retzuah.

An insignificant chatzitzah, like a small amount of dirt, is treated more leniently than a watch, and all agree that it is not considered a chatzitzah for retzuos (Teshuvos Vehanhagos ibid.). Likewise, if one has a Band-Aid on his arm, it may be left in place to avoid irritation. But a Band-Aid on the upper arm, under the first coil of the retzuah or under the bayis, must be removed. If doing so will cause pain, a rav should be consulted.

NEW Yorucha Program >