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Tzitzit - Chapter Three

Tzitzit - Chapter Three

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Halacha 1

A garment to which the Torah obligates a person to attach tzitzit [must meet the following requirements]:
a) it must have four - or more than four - corners;
b) it must be large enough to cover both the head and the majority of the body of a child who is able to walk on his own in the marketplace without having someone else accompany him and watch him;
c) it must be made of either wool or linen alone.

Halacha 2

In contrast, a garment made of other fabrics - for example, clothes of silk, cotton, camels' wool, hares' wool, goats' wool, and the like - are required to have tzitzit only because of Rabbinic decree, in order to show regard for the mitzvah of tzitzit.

[These garments require tzitzit only] when they are four-cornered - or have more than four corners - and are of the measure mentioned above.

[The motivating principle for this law] is that all the garments mentioned in the Torah without any further explanation refer to those made of either wool or linen alone.

Halacha 3

"On the four corners of your garments" (Deuteronomy 22:12): This applies to a garment which possesses four corners, but not to one which possesses only three. Perhaps, [it comes to include] a four-cornered garment and [to exclude] a five-cornered garment? The Torah continues: "with which you cover yourself." This includes even a five- (or more) cornered garment.

Why do I obligate a garment of five corners and exempt a garment of three corners? Neither has four corners [as required by the above verse]. Because a five-cornered garment has four corners.

Accordingly, when one attaches tzitzit to a garment with five or six corners, one should attach the tzitzit only to the four corners which are farthest apart from each other from among these five or six corners, as [implied by the phrase,] "On the four corners of your garments."

Halacha 4

If a garment is made of cloth and its corners of leather, it requires tzitzit. If the garment is of leather and its corners are of cloth, it does not require tzitzit. The determining factor is the makeup of the garment itself.

A garment belonging to two partners requires [tzitzit], as [implied by Numbers 15:38]: "On the corners of their garments." The term "your garments" [(Deuteronomy 22:12), which is interpreted as an exclusion,] excludes only a borrowed garment, since a borrowed garment does not require tzitzit for thirty days. Afterwards, it does require them.

Halacha 5

For a garment of wool, the white strands should be made of wool. For a garment of linen, the white strands should be made of linen. For garments of other [fabrics], the white strands should be made from the same fabric as the garment itself. For example, silk strands should be used for a silk garment, strands of goats' wool should be used for garments of goats' wool.

If one desired to make white strands of wool or linen for [garments of] any type [of fabric], one may, because [strands of] wool and linen can fulfill the obligation [of tzitzit] for garments made of their own fabric or for garments made of other fabrics. In contrast, [strands made] from other fabrics can fulfill the obligation [of tzitzit] only for garments made of their own fabric.

Halacha 6

What is the ruling regarding making woolen strands for a garment of linen or linen strands for a garment of wool - even though we are speaking only of the white strands without techelet?

One might think that it should be permitted, because sha'atnez is permitted to be used for tzitzit, as evident from the fact that techelet is made using woolen strands, and yet it should be placed on a linen garment. Nevertheless, this is not done.

Why? Because it is possible to make the white strands from the same fabric as [the garment]. Whenever [a conflict exists] between the observance of a positive commandment and the adherence to a negative commandment, [the following rules apply]: If it is possible to observe both of them, one should. If not, the observance of the positive commandment supersedes the negative commandment. In the present instance, however, it is possible to observe both of them.

Halacha 7

Techelet should not be attached to a linen garment. Rather, one should [make the tzitzit] from white threads of linen alone. This is not because [the prohibition against] sha'atnez supersedes [the mitzvah of] tzitzit, but rather it is a Rabbinical decree [imposed] lest one wear the garment at night, when one is not required to wear tzitzit, and thus violate a negative commandment when the performance of a positive commandment is not involved.

[This is because] the obligation to wear tzitzit applies during the day, but not at night [as can be inferred from Numbers 15:39]: "And you shall see them." [The mitzvah applies only] during a time when one can see. [Nevertheless,] a blind man is obligated to wear tzitzit. Even though he does not see them, others see him [wearing them].

Halacha 8

A person is permitted to wear tzitzit at night, both during the weekdays and on the Sabbath, even though this is not the time when the mitzvah should be fulfilled, provided he does not recite a blessing.

When should the blessing over tzitzit be recited in the morning? When [the sun has risen so] that one can differentiate between the strands of techelet and those which are white.

Which blessing should be recited upon it? "Blessed are you, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to wrap ourselves with tzitzit." Whenever a person wraps himself in tzitzit during the day, he should recite the blessing before doing so.

No blessing should be recited on the tzitzit when making them, because the ultimate purpose of the mitzvah is that one should wrap oneself in [a tallit].

Halacha 9

It is permissible to enter a lavatory or a bathhouse [wearing] tzitzit. If one of the strands of white or techelet becomes torn, it may be discarded in a garbage dump, because tzitzit is a mitzvah which does not confer sanctity on the article itself.

It is forbidden to sell a garment with tzitzit to a gentile until he removes the tzitzit, not because the garment possesses a measure of holiness, but because we are concerned that he will dress in it, and [unknowingly,] a Jew will accompany him, thinking that he is a fellow Jew, and the gentile may kill him.

Women, servants, and minors are not required by the Torah to wear tzitzit. It is, however, a Rabbinical obligation for every child who knows how to dress himself to wear tzitzit in order to educate him to fulfill mitzvot.

Women and servants who wish to wrap themselves in tzitzit may do so without reciting a blessing. Similarly, regarding the other positive commandments which women are not required to fulfill, if they desire to fulfill them without reciting a blessing, they should not be prevented from doing so.

A tumtum and an androgynous are obligated in all positive commandments because of the doubt [about their status]. Therefore, they fulfill [all these positive commandments] without reciting a blessing.

Halacha 10

What is the nature of the obligation of the commandment of tzitzit? Every person who is obligated to fulfill this mitzvah, if he wears a garment requiring tzitzit, should attach tzitzit to it and then wear it. If he wears it without attaching tzitzit to it, he has negated [this] positive commandment.

There is, however, no obligation to attach tzitzit to a garment which requires tzitzit, as long as it remains folded in its place, without a person wearing it. It is not that a garment requires [tzitzit]. Rather, the requirement is incumbent on the person [wearing] the garment.

Halacha 11

Even though a person is not obligated to purchase a tallit and wrap himself in it so that he must attach tzitzit to it, it is not proper for a person to release himself from this commandment. Instead, he should always try to be wrapped in a garment which requires tzitzit so that he will fulfill this mitzvah.

In particular, care should be taken regarding this matter during prayer. It is very shameful for a Torah scholar to pray without being wrapped [in a tallit].

Halacha 12

A person should always be careful regarding the mitzvah of tzitzit, because the Torah considered it equal to all the mitzvot and considered them all as dependent on it, as [implied by Numbers 15:39]: "And you shall see them and remember all the mitzvot of God."

Commentary Halacha 1

A garment to which the Torah obligates a person to attach tzitzit - With this expression, the Rambam could be alluding to the concept that a person is not obligated to wear tzitzit. Should a person desire to wear a garment of the type that requires tzitzit, then he has the opportunity to fulfill the mitzvah. See Halachot 10-11.

[must meet the following requirements]: a) it must have four - Deuteronomy 22:12 states: "Make braids on the four corners of your garments." As explained in Halachah 3, this excludes a garment with fewer than four corners.

or more than four - corners; - See Halachah 3.

b) it must be large enough to cover both the head and the majority of the body of a child - Menachot 41a adds that the garment must be large enough for an adult to use it occasionally.

This requirement is particularly significant regarding a tallit katan. Note the Mishnah Berurah 16:4, which requires that a tallit katan be at least 0.75 of a cubit long and 0.75 of a cubit wide on each side, without including the area of the hole where one's head is inserted. Preferably, the tallit katan should be a cubit by a cubit on each side.

who is able to walk on his own in the marketplace without having someone else accompany him and watch him; - The Tur (Orach Chayim 16) defines this as referring to a child who is at least nine years old.

c) it must be made of either wool or linen alone. - as explained in the following halachah.

Commentary Halacha 2

In contrast, a garment made of other fabrics - for example, clothes of silk, cotton, camels' wool, hares' wool, goats' wool, - The term "wool" when used without any modifier refers to wool from sheep or rams alone.

and the like - are required to have tzitzit only because of Rabbinic decree - The Rambam's opinion is quoted as halachah by the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 9:1). The Ashkenazic authorities, however (see the Ramah), disagree and maintain that all four-cornered garments require tzitzit regardless of the fabric they are made of. This difference of opinion results from the interpretation of a debate between Amoraim (Menachot 39b).

Because of this difference of opinion, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 9:6) suggests that everyone wear a tallit of wool, so that he will fulfill the mitzvah as required by the Torah according to all opinions. Shulchan Aruch HaRav 9:4 and the Mishnah Berurah 9:5 suggest that a God-fearing person should have both his tallit gadol and his tallit katan made of wool. See also the commentary on Halachah 5.

in order to show regard for the mitzvah of tzitzit. - Were tzitzit not required to be attached to these garments, people might not attach them to the garments which do require them.

[These garments require tzitzit only] when they are four-cornered - or have more than four corners - and are of the measure mentioned above. - Even when extending the scope of the mitzvah, the Rabbis maintained these criteria, which are explained in the previous halachah.

[The motivating principle for this law] - as explained in Menachot, ibid.

is that all the garments mentioned in the Torah without any further explanation - This includes the garments to which tzitzit are attached, as Numbers 15:38 states: "On the corners of their garments."

refer to those made of either wool or linen alone. - Since, regarding the prohibition against mixing fabrics (sha'atnez, Hilchot Kilayim 10:1) and the laws of tzara'at (leprosy, Hilchot Tumat Tzara'at 13:1), the Torah mentions garments of wool and linen, we can assume that any place in the Torah which mentions the word "garment" is referring to one made from wool or linen unless another fabric is explicitly mentioned.

Commentary Halacha 3

"On the four corners of your garments" (Deuteronomy 22:12): - In this halachah, the Rambam departs from his usual pattern of stating a law tersely without explanation, and quotes the entire passage (Menachot 43b), from which these laws are derived.

This - The Torah's command to attach tzitzit

applies to a garment which possesses four corners, but not to one which possesses only three - since the mention of a specific number of corners obviously is intended to exclude garments which do not meet this requirement.

Perhaps, [it - this phrase

comes to include] a four-cornered garment and [to exclude] a five-cornered garment? - i.e., why restrict the scope of the exclusion?

The Torah continues: "with which you cover yourself." This - extra phrase, which has no apparent purpose was added to

includes even a five- (or more) cornered garment. - One also "covers himself" with such garments.

The Talmud continues, asking

Why do I obligate a garment of five corners and exempt a garment of three corners? - Why is the inclusion applied to a five-cornered garment and the exclusion to a three-cornered garment? Perhaps they should be reversed, after all,

Neither - a three- or five-cornered garment

has four corners [as required by the above verse]. - The Talmud answers:

Because a five-cornered garment has four corners. - Therefore, it is logical to assume that the inclusion applies to it. This concludes the quotation from the Talmud.

Accordingly, - Since the reason tzitzit are placed on a five-cornered garment is that it possesses four corners

when one attaches tzitzit to a garment with five or six corners, one should attach the tzitzit only to the four corners - Indeed, if one attaches tzitzit to more than four corners of the garment, one transgresses the prohibition against adding to a Torah commandment (Magen Avraham 10:2).

which are farthest apart from each other - for, in this way, the tzitzit will be more noticeable (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 10:3).

from among these five or six corners, as [implied by the phrase,] "On the four corners of your garments." - There are other opinions, which maintain that a garment with more than four corners does not require tzitzit. In consideration of these opinions, it is preferable not to wear such garments at all (Magen Avraham 10:1).

Commentary Halacha 4

13A garment made of leather does not require tzitzit. Deuteronomy 15:38 states that tzitzit must be attached to בגדיהם, "their garments." The word בגד implies a woven garment and not one of leather (Levush, Orach Chayim 10:4). Thus, a leather garment does not require tzitzit.

If a garment is made of cloth - any cloth, not only wool or linen

and its corners of leather, it requires tzitzit. - The same law applies when not only the corners, but also a portion of the garment itself, is leather. As long as the majority of the garment is cloth, it requires tzitzit (Shulchan Aruch HaRav 10:8; Mishnah Berurah 10:10).

If the garment is of leather and its corners are of cloth - In this case as well, as long as the majority of the garment is leather

it does not require tzitzit. The determining factor is the makeup of the garment itself. - This is derived from the conclusion of the verse from Deuteronomy, "with which you cover yourself." A person covers himself with the major portion of the garment (Rabbenu Manoach).

A garment belonging to two partners requires [tzitzit], as [implied by Numbers 15:38]: "On the corners of their garments." - Here, the usage of a plural term implies an inclusion of garments which belong to many owners.

In contrast,

The term "your garments" - In this verse, the singular form of the word "your" is used.

[(Deuteronomy 22:12), which is interpreted as an exclusion], excludes only a borrowed garment, since a borrowed garment does not require tzitzit for thirty days. - Nevertheless, one is allowed to attach tzitzit to the garment if one chooses. Furthermore, one is allowed to borrow a colleague's tallit and recite a blessing over it - even without his knowledge (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 14:3-4).

Afterwards, it does require them. - Note the Hagahot Maimoniot, which explain that, even after thirty days, the Torah does not require a person to attach tzitzit to a garment which is not his own. The Sages, however, imposed this obligation because the garment appears to be his.

Commentary Halacha 5

For a garment of wool, the white strands should be made of wool - alone.

For a garment of linen, the white strands should be made of linen - alone. Note the explanation in the following halachah.

For garments of other [fabrics] - As mentioned in the commentary on Halachah 2, there is a difference of opinion among the Rabbis whether garments made from fabrics other than wool or linen require tzitzit or not. According to the opinions which maintain that they do, the concepts that follow are derived from the exegesis of a Biblical verse. (See Menachot 39b.) According to the Rambam, who maintains that the requirement of tzitzit on these garments is Rabbinic in origin, we must assume that these concepts were part of the Rabbinic ordinance requiring tzitzit for these garments (Kessef Mishneh).

the white strands should be made from the same fabric as the garment itself. - The authorities who consider the obligation to attach tzitzit to such garments as stemming from the Torah explain that, in the commandment to attach tzitzit, the Torah mentions the word "corner" an extra time, to teach that the tzitzit should be made of the same fabric as the corners.

For example, silk strands should be used for a silk garment, strands of goats' wool should be used for garments of goats' wool. - If one chooses to make tzitzit from these fabrics, one should use them for all four tzitzit. It is questionable whether it is acceptable to make some of the tzitzit of a specific garment from wool and others from the fabric of which the garment is made (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 9:4).

If one desired to make white strands of wool or of linen - The Ramah (Orach Chayim 9:2) states that at present it is customary not to make linen tzitzit at all.

for [garments of] any type [of fabric], one may - Menachot, ibid., derives this concept from the fact that Deuteronomy 22:12 mentions the mitzvah to attach tzitzit to our garments directly after the mention of the prohibition of making garments of wool and linen. Our Sages explain, that although mixtures of wool and linen are forbidden in general, such a mixture is required in tzitzit. (See the following two halachot.) Therefore, whenever tzitzit are made, either of these two fabrics may be used.

because [strands of] wool and linen can fulfill the obligation [of tzitzit] for garments made of their own fabric or for garments made of other fabrics. - Rabbi Meir of Rothenberg maintains, however, that wool and linen strands alone are not sufficient, and only a combination of wool and linen including strands of techelet can be used to fulfill the obligation of tzitzit for garments made from other fabrics. Shulchan Aruch HaRav 9:4 suggests considering this opinion.

In contrast, [strands made] from other fabrics can fulfill the obligation [of tzitzit] only for garments made of their own fabric. - Note Shulchan Aruch HaRav 9:5 and the Mishnah Berurah 9:10,13 which discuss a situation where the garment is woven from both wool and another fabric.

Commentary Halacha 6

What is the ruling regarding making woolen strands for a garment of linen or linen strands for a garment of wool - even though we are speaking only of the white strands without techelet? - It appears that the Rambam is asking about attaching tzitzit that have only white strands, without attaching techelet. Thus, one can conclude that when attaching tzitzit to a linen garment, it is forbidden to make the white strands of wool even though one includes a woolen strand oftechelet. Though the prohibition against sha'atnez is lifted for this garment, it is lifted only when there is no alternative but to do so (Kessef Mishneh).

One might think that it should be permitted, because sha'atnez - a mixture of wool and linen which is forbidden. (See Deuteronomy 22:11 and Hilchot Kilayim, Chapter 10.)

is permitted to be used for tzitzit, as evident from the fact that techelet is made using woolen strands - Chapter 2, Halachot 1- 2.

and yet it should be placed on a linen garment - according to Torah law. See, however, the following halachah.

Neverthless, this - Using linen strands for a woolen garment or vice versa

is not done.Why? Because it is possible to make the white strands from the same fabric as [the garment]. - Woolen strands for a woolen garment, linen strands for a linen garment, and thus skirt the prohibition entirely.

Whenever [a conflict exists] between the observance of a positive commandment and the adherence to a negative commandment, [the following rules apply:] - The following are general rules which apply, not only regarding tzitzit, but in other circumstances as well: for example, Hilchot Milah 1:9.

If it is possible to observe both of them - by fulfilling the positive commandment without breaking the prohibition

one should. If not, the observance of the positive commandment supersedes the negative commandment. - Rav Nissim Gaon explains that although the violation of a negative commandment receives a more severe punishment than the failure to observe a positive commandment, when God originally gave the negative commandments, He prescribed that they do not apply when adherence to them causes the performance of a positive commandment to be nullified.

The Tanya (Iggeret HaTeshuvah, Chapter 1) explains the rationale for this principle. Man's purpose in this world is to spread Godly light through the observance of mitzvot. Accordingly, the observance of these mitzvot is always given preference when there is such a conflict.

It must be emphasized that one must fulfill the mitzvah at the time one is violating the transgression. It is forbidden, however, in order to break a commandment to later perform a mitzvah.

In the present instance, however, it is possible to observe both of them - as explained above.

144
Commentary Halacha 7

Techelet should not be attached to a linen garment. - This decree was imposed even when techelet was available.

Rather, one should [make the tzitzit] from white threads of linen alone - even though by doing so, one does not fulfill the mitzvah of tzitzit to the fullest degree.

This is not because [the prohibition against] sha'atnez supersedes [the mitzvah of] tzitzit, but rather it is a Rabbinical decree - The Rabbis have the power to ordain that a person bypass the performance of a Torah commandment. Surely this applies in the present instance, when the mitzvah of tzitzit is not nullified entirely.

[imposed] lest one wear the garment at night - Significantly, the Rambam does not quote his apparent source (Menachot 40b) exactly. The Talmud states "lest one wear a garment of the night." The Rambam's change of phraseology teaches two concepts. First, that not only a garment which is generally worn at night, but even one which is worn primarily during the day, should not have techelet attached to it, lest one wear it during the night.

This also sheds light on a more involved issue. There is a difference of opinion among the Rabbis if the exclusion of wearing tzitzit at night applies to all tzitzit, or if it applies only to garments which are worn primarily at night. According to the latter opinion, garments worn primarily at night do not require tzitzit, even when worn during the day. In contrast, a garment which is worn primarily during the day requires tzitzit, even during the night and one does not transgress the prohibition against sha'atnez when wearing it at that time.

By altering the terminology used by the Talmud, the Rambam indicates his acceptance of the first perspective. Rabbenu Asher is the primary exponent of the second position. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 18:1) mentions both views without reaching a conclusion.

when one is not required to wear tzitzit, and thus violate a negative commandment when the performance of a positive commandment is not involved. - See Hilchot Kilayim 10:32, which mentions a similar concept regarding the priestly garments. The sash worn by the priests was made from sha'atnez. Therefore, the priests were allowed to wear it only when they were actually involved in the Temple service. Wearing it at other times constitutes a transgression, and not a mitzvah.

Significantly, Rabbenu Tam differs with the Rambam and allows the sash and tzitzit to be worn even during the times when doing so does not fulfill a mitzvah.

[This is because] the obligation to wear tzitzit applies during the day, but not at night [as can be inferred from Numbers 15:39]: "And you shall see them." - Note the Magen Avraham 8:13, which states that this verse also implies that one should wear tzitzit in a manner in which the strands can be seen.

[The mitzvah applies only] during a time when one can see. - i.e., the daytime hours. Note the Chatam Sofer and Rabbi Akiva Eiger (Orach Chayim 18), who mention opinions that maintain that the mitzvah is not limited by the times of day and night, but rather by situations when one can see the tzitzit. During a daytime eclipse, one would not be obligated.

[Nevertheless,] a blind man is obligated to wear tzitzit. Even though he does not see them, others see him [wearing them]. - There is no question concerning a blind man's obligation. He is required to wear tzitzit and may recite a blessing beforehand (Mishnah Berurah 17:1).

Commentary Halacha 8

A person is permitted to wear tzitzit at night - i.e., doing so is not a transgression of the prohibition against adding to the performance of a mitzvah.

The Mishnah Berurah 21:15 quotes the Ari zal, as advising one to sleep in a tallit katan at night.

both during the weekdays - Rabbi Yitzchak Abuhav maintains that this law applies even to tzitzit containing techelet. Based on the previous halachah, however, most authorities do not accept this opinion.

and on the Sabbath - On the Sabbath, it is forbidden to carry in the public domain. Therefore, one might think that it is forbidden to wear a garment with tzitzit at night, for it would be considered as if one is carrying them. The Rambam is teaching us that the tzitzit are not considered to be a burden, but rather an adornment of the garment to which they are attached (Hilchot Shabbat 19:20).

even though this is not the time when the mitzvah should be fulfilled, provided he does not recite a blessing. - Therefore, when a tallit is put on during the night - e.g., before the Selichot prayers - a blessing should not be recited (Ramah, Orach Chayim 18:3).

When should the blessing over tzitzit be recited in the morning? - According to the Rambam, this question applies whether one wears his tallit at night or not. Nevertheless, because of Rabbenu Asher's opinion mentioned in the previous halachah, if someone slept in his tallit katan, he should not recite a blessing upon it in the morning. Instead, it is preferable that he recite the blessing over his tallit gadol with the intention of including the tallit katan (Mishneh Berurah 8:24).

When [the sun has risen so] that one can differentiate between the strands of techelet and those which are white. - This time is slightly more than midway between dawn (עלות השחר) and sunrise (הנץ החמה).

Note the Ramah (Orach Chayim 18:3), who allows the blessing to be recited from dawn onwards.

Which blessing should be recited upon it? "Blessed are you, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to wrap ourselves with tzitzit." - This is the blessing recited over the tallit gadol. For a tallit katan, most authorities suggest concluding al mitzvat tzitzit, "concerning the mitzvah of tzitzit."

Whenever a person wraps himself in tzitzit during the day, he should recite the blessing before doing so. - Note the difference of opinion between the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 8:14) and the Ramah, whether a person who removes his tallit with the intention of putting it on again in the near future is obligated to recite a blessing or not.

No blessing should be recited on the tzitzit when making them - Note Hilchot Berachot 11:9, which states that one should recite the blessing, shehecheyanu, when one acquires or makes tzitzit. (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 22:1.)

because - making the tzitzit or even attaching them to the garment is only a preparatory act

the ultimate purpose of the mitzvah is that one should wrap oneself in [a tallit]. - See Hilchot Mezuzah 5:7; Hilchot Berachot 11:8.

Commentary Halacha 9

In contrast to tefillin (see Hilchot Tefillin 4:17-20) and a Torah scroll (see Hilchot Sefer Torah 10:6), which are themselves sacred articles,

It is permissible to enter a lavatory or a bathhouse [wearing] tzitzit - since the tzitzit themselves are not considered sacred articles. Shulchan Aruch HaRav 21:3 and the Mishnah Berurah 21:14 state that it is improper to enter a lavatory wearing a tallit gadol. Since this garment is worn exclusively at the times of prayer, it is not fitting to wear it in a lavatory.

If one of the strands of white or techelet becomes torn, it may be discarded in a garbage dump - in contrast to sacred articles that have become worn, which must be entombed. (See Hilchot Sefer Torah 10:3-4.)

The Ramah (Orach Chayim 21:1) differs and maintains that even after tzitzit have been removed from a garment, they should not be treated with disrespect.

because tzitzit is a mitzvah which does not confer sanctity on the article itself. - Though the tzitzit are used to perform a mitzvah, they, themselves, do not become sacred.

It is forbidden to sell a garment with tzitzit to a gentile until he removes the tzitzit, not because the garment possesses a measure of holiness - and we are afraid that he will deface it. (See Hilchot Mezuzah 5:11.)

but because we are concerned that he will dress in it, and [unknowingly,] a Jew will accompany him, thinking that he is a fellow Jew, and the gentile may kill him. - Note Hilchot Rotzeach UShemirat HaNefesh 12:7, which forbids traveling together with a gentile.

Women - Women are not required to fulfill any mitzvot whose observance is linked to a specific time. (See Hilchot Avodat Kochavim 12:3.) Since tzitzit are worn only during the day, women are not obligated to wear them.

servants - i.e., gentile servants, who are required to fulfill only the mitzvot for which women are obligated. (See Hilchot Tefilah 1:2 and Hilchot Issurei Bi'ah 12:11, 14:9.) A Jew sold as a slave is required to fulfill all the mitzvot.

and minors are not required by the Torah to wear tzitzit. - The Torah does not place any obligations on minors.

It is, however, a Rabbinical obligation for every child -Likkutei Sichot (Vol. 17) notes that the Rambam's choice of phraseology appears to indicate that the requirement to become trained in the performance of mitzvot obligates the child himself. Generally, it is understood that the obligation is on the child's parents, who are required to train him in Torah observance.

The contention that the obligation is on the child himself is supported by Hilchot Berachot 5:15-16, which states that an adult who has eaten only a small meal can fulfill his obligation to recite the grace by answering "Amen" to the blessings recited by a child who has reached the age of education. This ruling is based on the rationale that both the child and the adult share the same degree of obligation, a Rabbinical decree. This appears to indicate that the Sages placed the obligation to recite grace on the child himself.

who knows how to dress himself - The Ramah (Orach Chayim 17:3) interprets this to mean, "knows how to wrap himself in tzitzit in the ritual manner."

to wear tzitzit in order to educate him to fulfill mitzvot. - In many communities, it is customary to begin training a child to wear a tallit katan from the time he is toilet trained. In other communities, a child begins to wear tzitzit from the age of 6.

Women and servants who wish to wrap themselves in tzitzit may do so - The Ramah (Orach Chayim 17:1), however, advises against women wearing tzitzit, explaining that doing so would be a sign of conceit.

without reciting a blessing. Similarly, regarding the other positive commandments which women are not required to fulfill, if they desire to fulfill them without reciting a blessing, they should not be prevented from doing so. - Since they are not obligated to fulfill these commandments, it is improper for them to say the blessing which praises God "who has commanded us" to perform the mitzvot.

This perspective is not accepted by Ashkenazic authorities. TheMagen Avraham 17:1 explains that the fact that, as our Sages relate, women are given some measure of reward for the fulfillment of these commandments indicates that the commandment applies - albeit not completely - to them as well.

A tumtum - The word tumtum has its roots in the word atum, which means "a solid block." It refers to a person whose genitalia are covered by skin, so that it is impossible to determine whether he is male or female. (See also Hilchot Avodat Kochavim 12:4, Hilchot Ishut 2:25.)

Should a tumtum undergo an operation and it be revealed that he is either male or female, he is bound by the laws which apply to that gender.

and an androgynous - Androgynous is a combination of the Greek words meaning "man" and "woman." It refers to a person who possesses the sexual organs of both genders. (See also Hilchot Ishut 2:24.)

are obligated in all positive commandments because of the doubt [about their status]. - i.e., it is doubtful whether they are governed by the laws applying to a man or those applying to a woman. The doubts are, however, different in nature. With regard to a tumtum, we are uncertain what is his true gender. With regard to an androgynous, however, the question revolves around the Sages' failure to define his status.

Therefore, they fulfill [all these positive commandments] - lest they be considered men.

without reciting a blessing. - lest they be considered women. Needless to say, according to Ashkenazic practice, they would be required to recite blessings as well.

Commentary Halacha 10

What is the nature of the obligation of the commandment of tzitzit? Every person who is obligated to fulfill this mitzvah - i.e., adult males, as explained in the previous halachah

if he wears a garment requiring tzitzit - See Halachot 1-4.

should attach tzitzit to it and then wear it - if he desires to do so.

If he wears it without attaching tzitzit to it, he has negated [this] positive commandment.

There is, however, no obligation to attach tzitzit to a garment which requires tzitzit, as long as it remains folded in its place, without a person wearing it. - 13The Rambam wants to emphasize that

It is not that a garment requires [tzitzit]. - The Rambam's statements in this halachah revolve around a difference of opinion of our Sages, Menachot 42b. There are Sages who maintain that tzitzit is an obligation that depends on the garment - i.e., the mitzvah is completed by placing tzitzit on every garment which requires them. The other opinion states that tzitzit are an obligation incumbent on a person, that a person is required to attach tzitzit to his garments. The Rambam rephrases the latter opinion as follows:

Rather, the requirement is incumbent on the person [wearing] the garment. - With this choice of phraseology, he desires to indicate that - in contrast to other mitzvot (e.g., tefillin) - there is no obligation from the Torah to wear tzitzit every day. Only when a person desires to wear a garment that requires tzitzit is he obligated to fulfill the mitzvah.

This conception represents a change of position for the Rambam. Rav Yitzchak Alfasi, whose decisions the Rambam frequently followed, maintains that each person is obligated to wear tzitzit, apparently indicating that tzitzit, like tefillin, are an obligation which a person is required to fulfill.

The Rambam apparently held this view himself at one time. Therefore, in Sefer HaMitzvot, at the conclusion of the listing of the positive commandments, he lists tzitzit (together with tefillin) as one of the positive commandments whose observance we must pursue. Here, his choice of phraseology indicates that, although the mitzvah is incumbent on the person, it does relate to the garment. Only when a person wears a garment which requires tzitzit is he obligated to fulfill the mitzvah.

Commentary Halacha 11

Even though a person is not obligated to purchase a tallit and wrap himself in it so that he must attach tzitzit to it - as explained in the previous halachah.

it is not proper for a person to release himself from this commandment. Instead, he should always try to be wrapped in a garment which requires tzitzit so that he will fulfill this mitzvah - because of the importance of this mitzvah, as mentioned in the following halachah.

The Rambam mentions being "wrapped in a garment requiring tzitzit," an expression which appears to refer to a tallit gadol, a garment of the size and cut appropriate for "wrapping oneself." Significantly, throughout these halachot, he has used that term and never makes any reference to a tallit katan, the smaller garment which is colloquially called "tzitzit" today.

In Talmudic times, draping oneself with a garment that resembled our tallitot gedolot was common, but in different lands and different eras, the style of dress changed and, except for sages who would spend their day involved in study, it was rare that a person would wear a tallit gadol throughout the day. Accordingly, the people took to wearing the smaller tallit katan, which could be accommodated to other styles of dress more easily.

There is no explicit mention of a tallit katan in the Talmud, although a story related in Menachot 44a appears to indicate that such garments were worn in that era as well. The writings of the early Ashkenazic and later Sephardic rabbis of the Middle Ages mention the wearing of a tallit katan as an accepted practice.

In particular, care should be taken regarding this matter during prayer. - The Rambam does not specify the morning service. Perhaps he refers to the afternoon service as well.

It is very shameful for a Torah scholar to pray without being wrapped [in a tallit]. - See Rosh HaShanah 17b, which relates that when God revealed the thirteen qualities of mercy to Moses, "He wrapped Himself [in a tallit] like a leader of prayer and taught him the order of prayer."

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