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; \ Brief 'L'reatise 011 the
Sigtiificance of this Mitzvah
RABBI JACOB IMMANUEL SCHOCHET
. the "hosts of the L-rd. I. Oia: of these markings are the Tzitzith. . Terumah ( 4 1 d ) Each sovereign's army is garbed in its own distinctive ilniform. May this booklet inspire us to bring to fruition the ideals mentioned rherein. 6 Teveth 5727 . in zrhom I ~ ~ be 1 glorified. This uniform is a symbol of the allegiance which the wearer owes to his sovereign.~r?rt."" 1 Zuhar Chadash. S. J.I~ruel. which identify them as the servants of G-d. the Shechina dwells upon this person and procla~ms: 'Thou rrrt M y serl. T h e people of Israel. in the pages following we shall discuss the significance and symbolism of the Tzitzith in the light of traditional Jewish thought." also have their special insignia.INTRODUCTION Said Rabbi Shzmolt bar l'ochai: " W h e n a person rises zn t h e nzorning 'tnd dorzr ihe Tefillin and Tzitzith .
and do them. " Y o u shall make for yourself twisted cords @on the foar corners of yoar covering.they are t o make for themselves. and you shall look upon it and remember all the c-ommandments of the L-rd. Tzitzith @on the corners of their garments. after which you go astray.THE PURPOSE The Mitzvah of Tzitzith is mentioned twice in the Torah : '. throughout their generations. The immediate aims consist of one positive and one negative principle: . and to put with the Tzitzith of each corner a thread of blue. so that you will remember and do all My commandments and be holy unto your G-d'. And it rhall be m t o you for Tzitzith. and you will not follow your heart and your eyes. .. Numbers XV: 38ff. . ." Deuteronomy XXII : 12 The Torah itself thus explains the purpose of this Mitzvah. wherewith you cover yourself. In the first passage quoted we find both immediate and long-term aims.
' d ) Tzitzith require one thread colored by a uniquely processed blue dye (presently extinct).111: 174b f. Just as tzitz is derived f ~ o m Y1Y ( t o gaze.a ) The term "Tzitzith". The term Tzitzith recalls the tzitz. is derived from the same root. 16. upon which were engraved the words "Holy unto G . because it was worn on the forehead. Ezek. Shldrh. Our further discussion will show that the tzitz-Tzitzith relationship is more than etymological."zitzith also refers to the hairs. C ) only a four-cornered garment requires Tzitzith. Ser Slfrr.e. the fringes attached to the garment in order to be seen). the golden plate. 8 : 3 ) . This word thus denotes that the fringes are to be seen. Song 2:9). b) Tzitzith are attached to human attire. Z o h ~ r .Tzitzith. to be looked upon. Cf. and that the everyman's Tzitzith is in fact a model of the high priest's tzitz. See footnotc on p. worn by the high priest. a place visible to all (Rashbarn). . too." 1. 3. . or "fringes" on the forehead (cf. "S~OUJ-fringes" (i.d (Exodus 28:36). and its best translation is. therefore. cf. 2.
8. and the sea resembles the color of the heaven.Because blue resembles the color of the sea. and wen more so when we consider the etymological meaning of t'cheleth: "What is the meaning of t'cheleth ( n s 3 n ) ? It means tachlith (n933n). . mar. ad lor.!'+ from which the blue dye is extracted.'' the absolute and ultimate end and object of everything (viz. Ramban.InlH (fern. 9*. Cf.. ad lor. s u also Medrdshim on this verse. and 226b. gender). and the heaven resembles the 'color' of G-d'sThrone o f Gl~y!"~ The sight of the Tzitzith thus induces a mental vision. cit. ad lor. l o 7. and Z o h ~ III:226b ." while i t should say . west. 24:l). tntn alludes to an awareness of the Divine. Zohar. Zobrr. A conchifrr~i~rc animal. an awareness of the Shechinah (Divine Presence)! In whichever of the four directions of east. 10.: him.) 9. Numbers ad lor. Y e r u r h ~ l m i . the Shechin&) . the Tzitzith make us conscious d the omnipresent Creator and L-rd of the Universe? Today we no longer have a blue thread because the chiLozon. With this same thought our Sages explain the Scriptural phrase "that you may look upon lnlH (it. therefore. with his comments on Gen. (Yerwsbdmi. gender) if referring to the Tzitzith or the t'cheleth. ff. and 6. (see his words here and cf. south and north we turn (alluded to by the specification of a fewcornered garment). lit. say the Sages. [bid. III:175b. Baal Haturim. But its significance is still retained when we read the precept of t'cbeleth and contemplate on this Mitzvah.. is presently concealed and unknown. Berachoth 1:2.Menachoth. ibid.
1 2 .. Aforeh Neburhirn. and secondly.good was no longer purely good.'.Cf.of which he was not aware before. man felt ashamed of his nakedness and wished to cover his body..and they made themselvc-. .' But we have grown su. loinclothes. T h e exposure of those parts of the body now brought forth in him a feeling of shame on two counts: first of all. is akin t o the verh 722 (ro rrbcl. Adam and Eve had a sense and awareness of nakedness and prepared themselves clothes to cover their bodies. (cf. the Hebrew word for garment. 713. .':' Clothes thus remind man of his fall from a state of absolute purity into one of susceptibility to temptation and an inner struggle between the aspirations of the Divine soul and the passions of the physical body. 175a. accustamed to our clothing that we regard it as a mere means of protection against adverse climatic conditions or as a means for decorative 13. Zohar. because they were a source of temptation. 1 4 . Genesis i:?: "and they knew that they were n a k e d . see also bid. For these reasons. H e saw that certain parts of the body were more directly associated w ~ t hthe sense of physical pleasure. V. when his spiritual self was absolutely predominant In his presently contam~nated m ~ n d . and references cited in note 12. be faithless). . After their sin. llI:226a." See Sforno. ad [or. Sanhedrin 37a). Indeed. . because these parts of the body were a reminder of the humiliating downfall of man into thc power of lust.
Hence is clearly seen the misconception of those that would argue that if one does not wish to wear a four-cornered garment then he is not obligated by the Mitzvah of Tzitzith. all-inclusive warning n o t to follow "your own heart and your own eyes" . When dwelling upon this contrast. The eyes. are an epithet 16. when the Israelites are no longer sccustomed to wearing ( four-cornered ) garments. mads personal feelings. in Torah-terminology."Iu "YOUR HEART A N D YOUR EYES" The Torah-passage dealing with the precept of Tzitzith contrasts the remembrance and observance of the "commandments of G-d" against the going "after your own heart and your own eyes. Orach Cltayim:24.the generations. Or Harhayim.See Tur (and Shulrhan Arwrh). but pronounces a general." This counterpoise suggests more than the apparent literal sense.regardless of what the intentions may be. after which you go astray. they should still make some four-cornered garments and attach Tzi tzi th. . Cf. its latent meaning becomes obvious: The heart is the seat of man's emotions. Numbers ad lor. For the Torah does not specify a going after sinful inclinations. and commentaries ad lor. .
and so potent in effectiveness.-rd your G-d am holy!" (Levit. Burnidbm Rahba. upon which is engraved "Holy unto G-d!" They are the Jew's insignia as a member of G-d's "kingdom of priests and holy nation. for I the I. the rope to which we can cling to prevent us from drowning. that it is equivalent to all the other precepts of the Torah. For surely a consistent observance of this Mitzvah of Tzitzith must lead to a proper and complete observance of all the commandments. But as simple and easy as it is. so rich is this Mitzvah in symbolism. the Tzitzith are our life-line. T h e Tzitzith are everyman's tzztz. W. I t is indeed one of the most easily observed commandments. end of Shii2rh.'" and as our Sages su) graphically relate (Menachoth 4 4 a ) how the sight of the Tzitzith stopped a man on the vergc of c o m m i t ~ n ga grave sin and helped him to regain body and to restore his spiritual equilicontrol over h ~ s brium. as the Torah affirms in relation to the 19. .CONCLUSION Our sages refer to the precept of Tzitzith as a simple and easy Mitzvah. 1 9 : 2 ) .I5 - ." They not on1y confer "additional sanctity upon Israel" (Sifrd: Shlach) but help one realize the ultimate aim of "ye shall be holy. W h e n thrown into the tumultuous waters of the temptations of every-day life.
is then wound around the remaining seven threads. and once again a double knot is tied. one should recite the blessing over another garment while also keeping in mind the garment slept in. . and two and three-eights inches) from both edges of the corner. Though the obligation applies to daytime only. On the intervening spaces the longer thread is wound round. in the third one 11 times. (one and eleven-sixteenths. however. This hole must be between 4 and 6 cm. it is customary to wear a T d i t b Kdun even when sleeping at night so that when sleeping into daytime one will not be devoid of Mitzvoth Also. and in the fourth one 13 times. (See diagram 111). in the second one 8 times.17 - . 9. according to the esoteric teachings it is meritorious to wear Tzitzith at night too. One should see to make these four spaces of equal size. 7. which is purposely longer than the others. 6. The obligation of Tzitzith applies only to daytime.5. In the morning. therefore the blessing must not be proaounced before daybreak or after sundown. Four threads are drawn through a hole in the comer of the garment. in the first one 7 times. thus giving us eight threads in two rows of four each. The two rows are then tied together with double knots. This is repeated until there are in all five double knots and four intervening spaces. One thread. (See diagrams I1 and 111). 8.
7).). 17. In a Talith Katan it is customary to make 2 holes (both within the limits mentioned in par.* slightly distanced from each other and preferably at a slant (see diagram 11).TALITH KATAN (The small Talith worn as a garment) 15. (See diagram I ) 16.) on the external side of the garment.. The threads are drawn through both holes and the two rows are then tied together (as in par. 18. . and the length at least 2 m o t h (exclusive of the neck-opening. app. 7 ff. For boys between the ages of six and thirteen years one may rely on the opinions which permit smaller sizes for a Talith Katan. The width of a Talith Katan should be at least 1 amah ( 4 8 cm. and one amah square in the back). so that there is one a d square in the front. When donning the Talith Katrln one first puts it over the head and recites the blessing: * Some people follow the custom to make a single hole only. 19 in.
While standing garbed thus. one recites the following verses: 22.21. Before donning the Talith one recites the blessing: After the blessing one covers the head with the Talith and dons it (for a short while) in the fashion of Arab garbs by taking the two ends of the right side and swinging them over the left shoulder to the back. ( Psalms 3 6:8-11) .
= 0.) .3937 in.(1 CM.
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