The Torah requires that the Tzitzith be attached to human attire. Tzitzith are not worn on their own, as some separate insignia, like, for example, the Tefillin. It would seem, therefore, that there is some relationship between Tzitzith and human attire. This relationship may be detected in a brief review of the origin and significance of human attire1.

According to the Torah, clothes have their origin in the sin of Adam and Eve. Man was created all good, without any evil in him. He had no evil inclination, nor did he know any temptation for physical pleasure. In his purity of mind the feeling of shame was foreign to him2. All organs and parts of the body were equal to him, each one having to play its part in carrying out man's Divine mission on earth. In every instance, whether seemingly a spiritual exercise or a physical action, there was but one consideration: fulfillment of the Divine Will.

After the sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge there was born in man a consciousness of physical pleasure of which he was not aware before, when his spiritual self was absolutely predominant. In his presently contaminated mind, good was no longer purely good. He saw that certain parts of the body were more directly associated with the sense of physical pleasure. The exposure of those parts of the body now brought forth in him a feeling of shame on two counts: first of all, because these parts of the body were a reminder of the humiliating downfall of man into the power of lust, and secondly, because they were a source of temptation. For these reasons, man felt ashamed of his nakedness and wished to cover his body.

After their sin, Adam and Eve had a sense and awareness of nakedness and prepared themselves clothes to cover their bodies3. 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 body4. But we have grown so accustomed to our clothing that we regard it as a mere means of protection against adverse climatic conditions or as a means for decorative purposes. Few pause to consider the origin of human attire and the serious implications thereof. Maybe for that reason (to serve as a reminder of a reminder) we are enjoined to attach the unusual tassel of the Tzitzith on our attire. For the Tzitzith do not form an integral part of the garment and are of no material use. The Tzitzith and the garments both thus serve essentially the same purpose: the Tzitzith warning us to stand on guard against the inclinations of the "heart and the eyes" - (the "two touts for sin5”), and the garments as a vivid reminder of man's first succumbance to sin.

Tzitzith must therefore be worn on regular (four-cornered) garments and are not to be restricted to the Talith (prayer-shawl) worn at the time of prayer. For as Ibn Ezra writes in his commentary, "it is more important to be garbed in Tzitzith in the hours other than the time of prayer in order that one remember at all times, and not go astray and commit a sin; for at the time of prayer one does not sin."

And though the Torah requires Tzitzith for a four-cornered garment only, thus suggesting that for lack of such a garment one is exempt from this obligation, Rabbi Isaac Abarbanel notes in his commentary: "'they are to make for themselves Tzitzith, ...throughout their generations,' …to teach you that even in the course of the generations, when the Israelites are no longer accustomed to wearing (four-cornered) garments, they should still make some four-cornered garments and attach Tzitzith. 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 Tzitzith6.