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Why Wear Tzitzit If We Are Not Obligated?

Why Wear Tzitzit If We Are Not Obligated?

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Question:

To my amazement, I just found out that the commandment to wear ritual fringes, tzitzit, only applies if you are wearing a four-cornered garment. I hope you don't mind my asking a very simple question: Being that most clothing is not four-cornered these days, why do we purposely walk around in four-cornered garments, thus obligating ourselves to wear tzitzit?

Answer:

It is that time of year again. Tax Season. The time of sifting through and scrutinizing all the receipts we have accumulated over the year, looking for something that might help us lower our taxes. After all, if an exemption is available, why not use it?

The thing is, doing mitzvahs, keeping the Divine commandments, is not like paying taxes.

If a mitzvah were nothing more than an order from On High, a matter of fulfilling an obligation, we might be eager to take advantage of “exemptions.” Why keep more rules than necessary?

But a mitzvah is not just an obligation. The word “mitzvah” is related to the Hebrew word for “connection” (tzavtah). That’s because each mitzvah is another opportunity to connect to G‑d. It is another chance to bring holiness into our lives and the world around us.

And who doesn’t want a better, holier world?

More specifically, the rabbis said that the commandment of tzitzit should be performed daily (or at least during prayers), since it serves as a reminder for us to choose to do what is right in any situation we encounter.1 In fact, our sages write that this commandment, “is the equivalent of all of the commandments combined.”2 How could we miss out?

Please see The Obligation and In The Words of Our Sages on our Tallit and Tzitzit site.

Yours truly,

Rabbi Yisroel Cotlar

FOOTNOTES
1.

Code of Jewish Law, Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 24:1. This is based on the verse, “This shall be fringes for you, and when you see it, you will remember all the commandments of G-d, and perform them." (Numbers 15:39)

2.

The Talmud Tractate Menachot 43b.

Rabbi Yisroel Cotlar is a Chabad rabbi in Cary, North Carolina. He is also a member of the Chabad.org Ask the Rabbi team.
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Discussion (7)
March 17, 2014
Where is the scripture that says we only need to wear tzittzit if we wear 4 cornered clothes? Exactly...
messydue
April 21, 2013
tzitzit
I feel that even an individual wearing a western style "t-shirt" can assume four corners or a garment since technically every angle from a center point represents a corner and thus any western style t-shirt can have 360 degrees/angles and the number 360 is divisible by 4. so if you have a t-shirt you can take the length of it's hem, divide by 360 and attach each one to the corresponding 90th degree. ill give an example. the hem on the shirt I'm wearing is 42" so if i divide that number by four (the degrees of 360 are inferred at this point) I get 10.25" therefore, starting at the hip i can measure every ten + 1/4 inches and place a tzittzit either by breaking the fabric or installing a button. I hope this clears up your assumption that the clothe's style/build are a prerequisite to the tzitzit as where it's obvious that the wearing of a garment at all is the prerequisite.
Brian Foust
Raleigh, NC
October 23, 2012
Thank you for the answer given. Yes I do want to connect with G-d at every opportunity. I want to express my love to Him in all that I do
Celeste
Philadelphia
June 13, 2012
answer for bryan
Rabbi Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg ob"m wore all those tzitzis because each one was made according to a different halachic perspective. there are many, many laws and opinions on the shape of the tzitzis, the stripes, the material it is made from, the knots, etc., etc. and this rabbi wanted to make sure he was wearing tzitzis according to all opinions
miriam
brooklyn
March 21, 2012
Wearing more than one tallis katan?
I read of a rabbi who recently died who was famous for wearing anywhere between 36 and 100 tzizis. I don't understand why that would be considered meritorious. Could someone explain.
Bryan
NY, NY
February 10, 2011
nice
good answer!
your friend,
johnny :P
Comfort
Raleigh
February 8, 2011
In the Words of our Sages
"Even though a person is not required to buy himself a talit or to cover himself with it, to fulfill the command of tzitzit, it is not proper for a pious man to exempt himself from this command. Rather, eternally a person should try to be wrapped in a garment that requires tzitzit in order to fulfill this command. And the time of prayer requires even more effort. It is very shameful for a student of the sages to pray when he is not wrapped." M"T Hil. Tzitzit 3, 12 [11].
Ariel
Jerusalem