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Some Basic Laws of Tzitzith

Some Basic Laws of Tzitzith

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1. Only a garment designed for covering the body and having four corners (2 in front and 2 in the back) must have Tzitzith1. [A garment requires Tzitzith only when actually worn].

2. The Tzitzith, and the garment, should all be of the same material. Woolen garments with woolen Tzitzith are preferable to all.

3. The Fringes must be spun, and twined, and properly attached to the garment, specifically for the mitzvah of Tzitzith.

4. The Talith Gadol and the Talith Katan should be worn with 2 of the Tzitzith in the front, and the other 2 in the back.

5. The obligation of Tzitzith applies only to daytime; therefore the blessing must not be pronounced before daybreak or after sundown.

6. Though the obligation applies to daytime only, it is customary to wear a Talith Katan even when sleeping at night so that when sleeping into daytime one will not be devoid of Mitzvoth. Also, according to the esoteric teachings it is meritorious to wear Tzitzith at night too. In the morning, however, one should recite the blessing over another garment while also keeping in mind the garment slept in.

7. Four threads are drawn through a hole in the corner of the garment, thus giving us eight threads in two rows of four each. This hole must be between 4 and 6 cm. (one and eleven-sixteenths, and two and three-eights inches) from both edges of the corner. (See "Diagrams" for images.)

8. The two rows are then tied together with double knots. One thread, which is purposely longer than the others, is then wound around the remaining seven threads, and once again a double knot is tied. This is repeated until there are in all five double knots and four intervening spaces.

9. On the intervening spaces the longer thread is wound round, in the first one 7 times, in the second one 8 times, in the third one 11 times, and in the fourth one 13 times. One should see to make these four spaces of equal size.

10. The threads must be at least 24 cm. (app. 9 and a half in.) in length, in preferably the following proportion: one-third for the knots and intervening spaces, and the remaining two-thirds for the threads hanging loosely (below the last knots).

11. If one of the loose threads is torn off, the Tzitzith are still kosher. When two threads are torn off, the Tzitzith are still kosher if one is sure that they are both from the same row (see par. 7), by having been careful to see that both rows are made up of the same threads throughout.

12. The threads of Tzitzith must be twisted and if any thread has become untwisted, the untwisted part is considered as if it was cut off.

13. When purchasing Tzitzith, or a garment with Tzitzith attached, one should ensure that all requirements have been observed.

14. Tzitzith and Talith, though they possess no sanctity in themselves, should, nevertheless, not be used in an undignified manner because they were at one time used for a Mitzvah.

Talith Katan

(The small Talith worn as a garment)

15. The width of a Talith Katan should be at least 1 amah (48 cm. - app. 19 in.), and the length at least 2 amoth (exclusive of the neck-opening, so that there is one amah square in the front, and one amah square in the back).

16. For boys between the ages of six and thirteen years one may rely on the opinions which permit smaller sizes for a Talith Katan.

17. In a Talith Katan it is customary to make 2 holes (both within the limits mentioned in paragraph 72, slightly distanced from each other and preferably at a slant. The threads are drawn through both holes and the two rows are then tied together (as in paragraph 7) on the external side of the garment.

18. When donning the Talith Katan one first puts it over the head and recites the blessing:

Transliteration:

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam A-sher Ki-de-sha-nu Be-mitz-vo-tav Ve-tzi-va-nu Al Mitz-vas Tzi-tzit.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us concerning the commandment of Tzitzit.

Talith Gadol (Prayer-shawl)

19. The Tzitzith need to hang down from the sides of the Talith, not lower than 4 cm. (1 and eleven sixteenth inches) above the corner. It is advisable, therefore, to have a small hole near the edge of each side, one and eleven-sixteenth inches above the corner of the Talith, through which one draws the long thread (after tying the first double knot, just before proceeding with the coils). This will fasten the Tzitzith to the side and prevent them from slipping down.

20. Before donning the Talith Gadol one should check the Tzitzith to see that they are still kosher, except when this examination would prevent one from praying with the congregation. While checking the Tzitzith one recites the following verses:

Transliteration:

Bor-chi Naf-shi Et Ado-nai, Ado-nai E-lo_hai Go-dal-to Me-od, Hoid Ve-ho-dor Lo-vosh-to. O-te Or Ka-sal-ma, No-te Sha-ma-yim Ka-ye-ri-ah.

My soul, bless the Lord! Lord my G‑d, You are greatly exalted; You have garbed Yourself with majesty and splendor. You enwrap [Yourself] with light as with a garment; You spread the heaven as a curtain.

(Psalms 104:1, 2)

21. Before donning the Talith one recites the blessing:

Transliteration:

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-he-nu Me-lech Ha-olam A-sher Ki-de-sha-nu Be-mitz-vo-tav Ve-tzi-va-nu Le-his-a-teif Ba-Tzi-tzit.

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to enwrap ourselves in Tzitzit.

22. 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. While standing garbed thus, one recites the following verses:

How precious is Your kindness, O G‑d! The children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings. They shall be satiated with the delight of Your House, and You will give them to drink from the river of Your bliss. For with You is the source of life; in Your light we see light. Bestow Your kindness upon those who know You, and Your righteousness on the upright in heart.

(Psalms 36:8-11)

Footnotes
1.
If there are more than 4 corners, the garment still requires Tzitzith, though the fringes are attached only to the corners at the four extremities of the garment.
2.
Some people follow the custom to make a single hole only.
Rabbi Immanuel Schochet (1935–2013) wrote and lectured extensively on the history and philosophy of Chassidism and topical themes of Jewish thought and ethics. He was a renowned authority on Jewish philosophy and mysticism. He was rabbi of Cong. Beth Joseph, and professor of Philosophy at Humber College, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Published by Kehot Publication Society, Brooklyn, NY, 1967
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Menachem Posner for Chabad.org July 16, 2010

You should recite a blessing on your tallit kattan, even if it was the same one you wore yesterday.

However, if you slept in your tallit kattan and plan on wearing the same one during the day as well, it is questionable whether or not you may make a blessing. It is therefore advisable for those who sleep wearing their tallit kattan to have two pairs, thus donning a fresh one--and reciting a blessing--each morning.

In addition, married men, who also wear a tallit gadol, should only recite a blessing on the tallit gadil, whilst having in mind that the blessing is for the tallit kattan as well. Reply

David Reghay July 15, 2010

Are there any cases where one would not recite the blessing over the tallit kattan? I have heard that if it was the same one worn the previous day that a blessing need not be made. I may have misunderstood the source, however.

Thank you =] Reply

This is no fringe mitzvah! The tallit and tzitzit serves as constant reminders of our obligations to G-d and our fellows.
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