SECTION 11 Laws Relating to the Threads of the Tzitzis. (1–35)

סימן יא דִּינֵי חוּטֵי הַצִּיצִית, וּבוֹ לה סְעִיפִים:

1 When the sky-blue dye called techeiles1 was available, the mitzvah of tzitzis was observed in the following manner: One would take two [woolen] threads (chutim) dyed techeiles and two [linen] threads which were not dyed.2 The latter are called white threads: since we are not commanded to dye them, they remain white.

In the present era, when techeiles is not available to us, one must take two white threads3 instead of the two threads of techeiles, because no tzitzis should comprise fewer than four threads. [This concept is derived as follows:] It is written,4 “You shall make yourself braided threads.” Now a braided thread must comprise at least two threads braided over each other.5 Since the verse specifies “braided threads” (gedilim, in the plural), implied is that one must use [two braided threads, i.e.,] four threads. If one adds even one thread to these four, he transgresses the prohibition against adding [to the Torah’s commandments].6 Therefore, the tzitzis to which he added the thread is invalid until he removes one thread from it. (See sec. 10[:14].)

א מִצְוַת צִיצִית, בִּזְמַן שֶׁהָיָה תְּכֵלֶת1 מָצוּי – הָיָה מִצְוָתָהּ שֶׁיִּקַּח ב' חוּטִין צְבוּעִין [בְּצֶבַע] הַנִּקְרָא תְּכֵלֶת, וּב' חוּטִין שֶׁאֵינָן צְבוּעִין הַנִּקְרָאִים חוּטֵי לָבָן,א מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין אָנוּ מְצֻוִּים לְצָבְעָן מִמֵּילָא נִשְׁאָרִים בְּלַבְנוּתָם.ב

וְעַכְשָׁו שֶׁאֵין לָנוּ תְּכֵלֶת – צָרִיךְ לִקַּח ב' חוּטֵי לָבָן3 בִּמְקוֹם ב' חוּטֵי תְּכֵלֶת,ג מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין צִיצִית פָּחוֹת מִד' חוּטִין, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ד,4 "גְּדִלִים תַּעֲשֶׂה לָּךְ", וְאֵין גָּדִיל פָּחוֹת מִב' חוּטִין ה שֶׁגּוֹדְלָן זֶה עַל גַּב זֶה,5 וּכְשֶׁהוּא אוֹמֵר "גְּדִלִים" הֲרֵי כָּאן אַרְבַּע. וְאִם הוֹסִיף אֲפִלּוּ חוּט אֶחָד עַל הַד' חוּטִין – הֲרֵי עָבַר עַל "בַּל תּוֹסִיף",ו,6 וְלָכֵן אוֹתָהּ הַצִּיצִית שֶׁהוֹסִיף בָּהּ הַחוּט הִיא פְּסוּלָה, עַד שֶׁיָּסִיר חוּט אֶחָד מִמֶּנָּה (עַיֵּן סִימָן יוד).ז

2 The threads of the tzitzis have to be [spun and] twined, [as implied by] the phrase,7 psil techeiles — “a cord of sky-blue [wool]”; i.e., they must be spun and twined like a cord.8 And since the sky-blue wool must be spun and twined, so too should the white threads, for they have been likened to each other by the phrase [that includes both the blue threads and the white],4 “You shall make yourself braided threads.”

ב חוּטֵי הַצִּיצִית צְרִיכִין שְׁזִירָה,ח שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ט, 7 "פְּתִיל תְּכֵלֶת", שֶׁיִּהְיֶה טָווּי וְשָׁזוּר כְּעֵין פְּתִילָה,8 וּמַה תְּכֵלֶת טָווּי וְשָׁזוּר – אַף לָבָן כֵּן, שֶׁהֲרֵי הֻקְּשׁוּ זֶה לָזֶה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: י, 4 "גְּדִלִים תַּעֲשֶׂה וגו'".

3 The wool must be spun and twined into thread specifically for the sake of the mitzvah of tzitzis; i.e., at the beginning of the spinning and twining, [the person making the thread] must declare9 that he is doing this for the sake of the mitzvah of tzitzis, or [a man] must tell a woman10 [making the thread], “Spin tzitzis for me, for a tallis.”11 [This requirement is derived from] the phrase,4 “You shall [initially] make yourself [braided threads]”; i.e., [you shall make them] in order to fulfill your obligation.12 If the threads are not spun or twined for the sake of the mitzvah, they are invalid.

Certain spiritually sensitive people13 are stringent [with regard to their own observance and require] that even the [preparatory] carding of the wool [be done for the sake of the mitzvah], but this is not the prevailing custom.

ג וּצְרִיכִים שֶׁיִּהְיוּ טְווּיִין וּשְׁזוּרִין לְשֵׁם צִיצִית דַּוְקָא,יא דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁיֹּאמַר בִּתְחִלַּת הַטְּוִיָּה וְהַשְּׁזִירָה שֶׁהוּא עוֹשֶׂה כֵּן לְשֵׁם צִיצִית,יב, 9 אוֹ שֶׁיֹּאמַר לָאִשָּׁה:10 טְוִי לִי צִיצִית לְטַּלִּית,יג, 11 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:4 "תַּעֲשֶׂה לָּךְ" – לְשֵׁם חוֹבָתְךָ.יד, 12 וְאִם לֹא הָיוּ טְווּיִין לִשְׁמָן,טו אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא הָיוּ שְׁזוּרִין לִשְׁמָן טז – פְּסוּלִין.

וְיֵשׁ בַּעֲלֵי נֶפֶשׁ13 שֶׁמַּחֲמִירִין עַל עַצְמָן יז אֲפִלּוּ בְּנִפּוּץ הַצֶּמֶר,יח אֲבָל אֵין נוֹהֲגִין כֵּן.יט

4 If a non-Jew spins or twines [threads for tzitzis], they are not valid even if a Jew stands over him and tells him to perform this activity for the sake [of the mitzvah] of tzitzis. [The rationale is that] a non-Jew acts on his own initiative and does not heed the words of the Jew,14 unless the Jew assists him slightly.15

If, however, the threads are spun or twined by a deaf-mute,16 a mentally or emotionally incompetent individual, or a minor, while an adult stands over them17 and tells them to perform the activity for the sake [of the mitzvah] of tzitzis, they are valid.18

ד טָוָן נָכְרִי כ אוֹ שֶׁשָּׁזַר, אֲפִלּוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל עוֹמֵד עַל גַּבָּיו וְאוֹמֵר לוֹ שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה לְשֵׁם צִיצִית – פְּסוּלִין,כא (א) דְּנָכְרִי אֲדַעֲתֵּיה דְּנַפְשֵׁיהּ קָעֲבִיד כב וְאֵינוֹ חוֹשֵׁשׁ לְדִבְרֵי הַיִּשְׂרָאֵל,14 אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן מְסַיֵּעַ הַיִּשְׂרָאֵל מְעַט.כג, 15 אֲבָל אִם טָוָן אוֹ שְׁזָרָן חֵרֵשׁ16 שׁוֹטֶה וְקָטָן כד (ב) וְגָדוֹל עוֹמֵד עַל גַּבָּיו17 וְאוֹמֵר לָהֶם שֶׁיַּעֲשׂוּ לְשֵׁם צִיצִית – כָּשֵׁר.18

5 The four threads of the tzitzis must be attached to the tallis and folded over so that there will be eight threads [hanging from each corner of the garment]. The wording of the verse19 (“a cord of sky-blue [wool]”) implies that they should be folded over like a cord.20

After [the four threads] are folded over, each of the eight [resultant] threads must be at least twelve thumbbreadths long.21 We measure at the wide part of the thumb.

ה אַרְבָּעָה חוּטֵי הַצִּיצִית צָרִיךְ לִתְּנָם לַטַּלִּית וּלְכָפְלָם, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיוּ שְׁמוֹנָה חוּטִין,כה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:19 "פְּתִיל תְּכֵלֶת", שֶׁיִּהְיֶה כָּפוּל כו כְּעֵין פְּתִילָה.20 וּלְאַחַר שֶׁכְּפָלָן צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בְּכָל חוּט מֵהַח' חוּטִין אֹרֶךְ י"ב גּוּדָלִין,כז, 21 וּמוֹדְדִין בַּמָּקוֹם הָרָחָב שֶׁבַּגּוּדָל.כח

6 The width of an average person’s thumb is equivalent to the width of seven barley grains placed next to each other tightly. This is equivalent to the length of two barley grains placed end to end loosely.22

ו שִׁעוּר הַגּוּדָל שֶׁל אָדָם בֵּינוֹנִי הוּא כְּרֹחַב ז' שְׂעוֹרוֹת כט כְּשֶׁמֻּנָּחוֹת זוֹ בְּצַד זוֹ בְּדֹחַק, וְהֵן כְּאֹרֶךְ ב' שְׂעוֹרוֹת בְּרֶוַח.22

7 [The length of] twelve thumbbreadths must be measured after all the coils and knots are made. One measures [outwards] from the edge of the garment, without including [the part of the tzitzis] which lies over the garment [i.e., the distance from the hole(s) into which the tzitzis are inserted until the edge of the garment]. Each of the four [original long] threads must therefore be at least 30 thumbbreadths long. In this way, when they are folded, each of the eight [resultant] threads will be [at least] 15 thumbbreadths long. [There will thus be at least] two thumbbreadths from the hole of the tallis into which the tzitzis are inserted until the edge of the garment — i.e., the length of the last joint of the thumb as explained later in this section,23 one thumbbreadth to tie [the tzitzis], and twelve thumbbreadths left hanging so that the tzitzis will be of valid length.

ז אֵלּוּ הַשְּׁנֵים עָשָׂר גּוּדָלִין מוֹדְדִין לְאַחַר שֶׁעָשָׂה כָּל הַכְּרִיכוֹת וְהַקְּשָׁרִים,ל וּמַתְחִילִין לִמְדֹּד אוֹתָן מִשְּׂפַת הַכָּנָף, אֲבָל כָּל מַה שֶּׁמֻּנָּח עַל הַכָּנָף אֵין לִמְדֹּד בִּכְלַל הַחֶשְׁבּוֹן. וְלָכֵן צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אֹרֶךְ כָּל חוּט מֵהָאַרְבָּעָה חוּטִין שְׁלֹשִׁים גּוּדָלִין,לא דְּכְשֶׁיִּכְפְּלֵם יִהְיֶה כָּל חוּט מֵהַשְּׁמוֹנָה חוּטִין חֲמִשָּׁה עָשָׂר גּוּדָלִין: שְׁנֵי גּוּדָלִין מִנֶּקֶב הַטַּלִּית שֶׁבּוֹ תּוֹחֲבִין הַצִּיצִית עַד שְׂפַת הַכָּנָף, דְּהַיְנוּ שִׁעוּר קֶשֶׁר אֲגוּדָל שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר לְקַמָּן בְּסִימָן זֶה,לב, 23 וְגוּדָל אֶחָד לְהַקְּשָׁרִים,לג וּשְׁנֵים עָשָׂר גּוּדָלִין יִהְיוּ תְּלוּיִין לְהֶכְשֵׁר הַצִּיצִית.

8 One of the threads [for each corner] should be longer than this, so that it can be coiled [around the others] to form the braid (gedil), as will be explained later in this section. If one does not have a single thread long enough to wind all the coils, he may wind some of them with one thread and complete the others with another. [The rationale for this leniency is that] in the era when techeiles was available, some of the coils were made with [threads of] techeiles and others with threads of white [linen].

ח אֶחָד מֵהַחוּטִין יִהְיֶה יוֹתֵר אָרֹךְ,לד כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּכְרֹךְ בּוֹ אֶת הַגָּדִיל כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן זֶה לְקַמָּן.לה וְאִם אֵין לוֹ חוּט אֶחָד אָרֹךְ כָּל כָּךְ לו שֶׁיּוּכַל לִכְרֹךְ בּוֹ כָּל הַכְּרִיכוֹת – יָכוֹל לִכְרֹךְ קְצָת כְּרִיכוֹת בְּחוּט זֶה וּקְצָת כְּרִיכוֹת בְּחוּט אַחֵר, כִּי כֵן בִּזְמַן שֶׁהָיָה תְּכֵלֶת מָצוּי הָיוּ כּוֹרְכִין קְצָת כְּרִיכוֹת בִּתְכֵלֶת וּקְצָתָם בְּחוּטֵי הַלָּבָן.

9 If one desires to make tzitzis longer than 12 thumbbreadths, he may. [Indeed,] he may make them as long as he desires.24 [In fact,] it is desirable to make [tzitzis longer than the minimum], so that if part of a thread becomes severed, the remainder will still be [at least] 12 thumbbreadths long.25

ט אִם רוֹצֶה לַעֲשׂוֹת הַצִּיצִית אֲרֻכִּין יוֹתֵר מִי"ב גּוּדָלִין – רַשַּׁאי,לז וְיָכוֹל לְהַאֲרִיכָם כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּרְצֶה.24 וְטוֹב לַעֲשׂוֹת כֵּן,לח כְּדֵי שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ אִם יִפָּסְקוּ יִשָּׁאֵר בָּהֶם י"ב גּוּדָלִין.25

10 It was explained in sec. 9[:1] that the tzitzis must be of the same fiber as the corner [of the garment]. For this reason, tzitzis should not be made from wool that is caught on the thorns among which sheep lie, nor from threads that are pulled off the sheep, nor from the remnants of the warp which a weaver leaves over at the edge of a garment. If tzitzis are made from such wool, they are invalid.26 None of these types [of wool] are fit to be made into a garment, because they are the dregs of the wool. [Since] garments are not made from them and the Torah requires that the tzitzis be made from the same kind of fiber as the corner [of the garment], as stated in sec. 9, [they are unfit for tzitzis].

The same law applies with regard to all other inferior types of wool. [Since] a garment would not be made from them, they are invalid for use as tzitzis for the above reason.

י כְּבָר אָמַרְנוּ בְּסִימָן ט לט שֶׁהַצִּיצִית צְרִיכִין לִהְיוֹת מִמִּין הַכָּנָף דַּוְקָא, וְלָכֵן מ אֵין עוֹשִׂין הַצִּיצִית מִן הַצֶּמֶר הַנֶּאֱחָז בַּקּוֹצִים כְּשֶׁהַצֹּאן רוֹבְצִים בֵּינֵיהֶם,מא וְלֹא מִן הַנִּימִין הַנִּתְלָשִׁין מִן הַצֹּאן, וְלֹא מִן שִׁיּוּרֵי שְׁתִי שֶׁהָאוֹרֵג מְשַׁיֵּר בְּסוֹף הַבֶּגֶד. וְאִם עָשָׂה מֵהֶן צִיצִית – הֲרֵי הֵם פְּסוּלִים,מב, 26 לְפִי שֶׁאֵין מִינִים הַלָּלוּ רְאוּיִים לַעֲשׂוֹת מֵהֶם בֶּגֶד,מג שֶׁהֵן פְּסֹלֶת הַצֶּמֶר וְאֵין הַבֶּגֶד נַעֲשֵׂית מִכְּמוֹתָן, וְהַתּוֹרָה אָמְרָה "הַכָּנָף" – מִין כָּנָף, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן ט. וְהוּא הַדִּין כָּל מִינֵי צֶמֶר הַגְּרוּעִין מד שֶׁאֵין בֶּגֶד נַעֲשֵׂית מֵהֶן – פְּסוּלִין לְצִיצִית מִטַּעַם הָאָמוּר.

11 If a thief stole [woolen] threads that had been spun with the intent that they be used as tzitzis and then went and used them for tzitzis, they are invalid.27 In the verse,19 ve’asu lahem tzitzis (“they shall make tzitzis for themselves”), the word lahem (“for themselves”) indicates that [the tzitzis must be made] out of their own property,28 and not of stolen goods.

If the tzitzis were sold to another person29 and the [original] owner despaired of their return,30 they are valid; the purchaser acquired them by virtue of the [original] owner’s despair and by virtue of their transfer from the robber’s ownership to his own, as is stated in [Shulchan Aruch,] Choshen Mishpat, sec. 361[:4].

יא גָּזַל חוּטִין שֶׁנִּטְווּ לְשֵׁם צִיצִית מה וְהָלַךְ הַגַּזְלָן וְעָשָׂה מֵהֶם צִיצִית – הֲרֵי הֵם פְּסוּלִין,27 שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:19 "וְעָשׂוּ לָהֶם" – מִשֶּׁלָּהֶם,מו, 28 פְּרָט לְגָזֵל. וְאִם מָכַר הַגַּזְלָן אֶת הַצִּיצִית לְאַחֵר מז, 29 (ג), אִם כְּבָר נִתְיָאֲשׁוּ הַבְּעָלִים מֵהֶם30 – הֲרֵי הֵם כְּשֵׁרִים, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁקָּנָה אוֹתָן הַלּוֹקֵחַ בְּיֵאוּשׁ בְּעָלִים וְשִׁנּוּי רְשׁוּת מֵהַגַּזְלָן לַלּוֹקֵחַ, כְּמוֹ שֶׁכָּתוּב בְּחשֶׁן מִשְׁפָּט סִימָן שסא.מח

12 If a person steals unspun wool and spins [it into threads] for use as tzitzis, then if the original owner has not yet despaired of its return, [the threads] are invalid for use as tzitzis: they are still stolen property and do not belong to the robber at all. He did not acquire them by changing them [from unspun wool] into threads, because this change is reversible — from threads back to wool.

[This is not the case if] the owner despaired of its return or even if he did not despair, but the robber changed the wool irreversibly,31 e.g., he bleached it with sulfur, as explained in [Shulchan Aruch,] Choshen Mishpat, sec. 360[:5-6].32 In this case the robber acquires the wool entirely. For even if the wool is still intact [and in his possession], he is required to return only its monetary value to its original owner.33 It may thus be considered entirely his in every respect, and tzitzis made from it are therefore valid. Nevertheless, he should not recite a blessing over such tzitzis, for he is not blessing G‑d, but blaspheming Him,34 because the tzitzis came into his possession through robbery.

יב גָּזַל צֶמֶר שֶׁלֹּא נִטְוָה וּטְוָאָן הַגַּזְלָן לְשֵׁם צִיצִית, אִם עֲדַיִן לֹא נִתְיָאֲשׁוּ הַבְּעָלִים מִמֶּנּוּ – הֲרֵי הֵם פְּסוּלִים לְצִיצִית, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵם עֲדַיִן גָזֵל וְאֵינָם שֶׁל גַּזְלָן כְּלָל, שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא קָנָה אוֹתָן בְּשִׁנּוּי זֶה שֶׁעֲשָׂאָן חוּטִין, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא שִׁנּוּי הַחוֹזֵר לִבְרִיָּתוֹ, שֶׁהֲרֵי הַחוּטִין אֶפְשָׁר לַחֲזֹר וְלַעֲשׂוֹת אוֹתָן צֶמֶר.מט

אֲבָל אִם כְּבָר נִתְיָאֲשׁוּ הַבְּעָלִים מִמֶּנּוּ,נ אוֹ אֲפִלּוּ אִם לֹא נִתְיָאֲשׁוּ עֲדַיִן אֶלָּא שֶׁהַגַּזְלָן עָשָׂה בְּצֶמֶר זֶה שִׁנּוּי גָּמוּר שֶׁאֵין חוֹזֵר לִבְרִיָּתו נא,31 (ד), כְּגוֹן שֶׁלִּבֵּן אֶת הַצֶּמֶר בְּגָפְרִית, וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּחשֶׁן מִשְׁפָּט סִימָן שס נב,32 עַיֵּן שָׁם, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהַגַּזְלָן קָנָה אֶת הַצֶּמֶר לְגַמְרֵי, דְּהָא אֲפִלּוּ אִם הַצֶּמֶר הוּא בְּעֵין אֵין צָרִיךְ לְהַחֲזִיר לְהַנִּגְזָל אֶלָּא דְּמֵי הַצֶּמֶר,נג,33 אִם כֵּן הֲרֵי הִיא כְּשֶׁלּוֹ מַמָּשׁ לְכָל דָּבָר, וְלָכֵן הַצִּיצִית שֶׁעָשָׂה מִמֶּנּוּ הֲרֵי הֵם כְּשֵׁרִים. אֲבָל מִכָּל מָקוֹם לֹא יְבָרֵךְ עֲלֵיהֶם,נד דְּאֵין זֶה מְבָרֵךְ נה אֶלָּא מְנָאֵץ,34 כֵּיוָן שֶׁעַל יְדֵי גְּזֵלָה בָּא הַצִּיצִית לְיָדוֹ.

13 Once someone has prostrated himself before an animal, its wool becomes invalid for tzitzis.35 Animals which have been worshiped are not forbidden for mundane use, and since anything connected to an animal is adjudged likewise, this wool would be permitted for mundane use. Nevertheless, the animal may not be used for a mitzvah, for it is repulsive to the One on High. Animals that have been worshiped may not be offered on the altar of the One on High,36 and if so, the same principle applies to the wool that grows on them.37 Even though when the wool is made into tzitzis it undergoes a change from its previous state — for before it was wool and now it has been made into threads — it still looks the same and is still recognizable as wool.

If, by contrast, someone prostrated himself before flax which is growing, tzitzis may be made from it, for [the rule is that] benefit may be derived from a growing plant that has been worshiped. Moreover, it is [now] not even repulsive to the One on High, for its form at the time it was worshiped has undergone a change. Since what was then an ordinary plant has now been transformed into threads, leaving no trace of its former appearance.

יג הַמִּשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לִבְהֵמָה – צַמְרָהּ פָּסוּל לְצִיצִית.נו, 35 אַף־עַל־פִּי שֶׁאֵין בַּעֲלֵי חַיִּים שֶׁנֶּעֶבְדוּ אֲסוּרִים לְהֶדְיוֹט, וְכָל הַמְחֻבָּר לוֹ הֲרֵי הוּא כָּמוֹהוּ, וְאִם כֵּן הַצֶּמֶר הַזֶּה מֻתָּר לְהֶדְיוֹט, מִכָּל מָקוֹם לְמִצְוָה אָסוּר מִשּׁוּם דְּמָאוּס הוּא לְגָבוֹהַּ,נז שֶׁהֲרֵי בַּעֲלֵי חַיִּים שֶׁנֶּעֶבְדוּ אֲסוּרִין לְגָבוֹהַּ לְגַבֵּי הַמִּזְבֵּחַ,נח, 36 וְאִם כֵּן הוּא הַדִּין לַצֶּמֶר שֶׁעַל גַּבֵּיהֶן.37 וְאַף עַל פִּי דִּכְשֶׁעוֹשֶׂה מִמֶּנּוּ צִיצִית הוּא מִשְׁתַּנֶּה מִכְּמוֹת שֶׁהָיָה, שֶׁהֲרֵי מִקֹּדֶם הָיָה צֶמֶר וְעַכְשָׁו נַעֲשׂוּ חוּטִין, מִכָּל מָקוֹם עֲדַיִן מַרְאֵהוּ עָלָיו וְנִכָּר שֶׁהוּא צֶמֶר.נט

אֲבָל הַמִּשְׁתַּחֲוֶה לְפִשְׁתָּן נָטוּעַ – מֻתָּר לַעֲשׂוֹת מִמֶּנּוּ צִיצִית,ס שֶׁהֲרֵי מְחֻבָּר שֶׁנֶּעֱבַד מֻתָּר בַּהֲנָאָה,סא וְאַף לְגָבוֹהַּ אֵינוֹ מָאוּס כְּלָל כֵּיוָן שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּנָּה מִכְּמוֹת שֶׁהָיָה בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁנֶּעֱבַד, שֶׁהֲרֵי מִקֹּדֶם הָיָה כְּעֵץ בְּעָלְמָא,סב וְעַכְשָׁו שֶׁעָשָׂה מִמֶּנּוּ חוּטִין הֲרֵי מַרְאֵה הָרִאשׁוֹן חָלַף וְהָלַךְ לוֹ מִמֶּנּוּ לְגַמְרֵי.סג

14 The hole38 [near the corner of the garment] through which the tzitzis are to be inserted should be positioned no more than three thumbbreadths from the edge of the garment.39 For it is written19 [that the tzitzis] should be “on the corner[s]” [of the garment], and more than three thumbbreadths from the edge cannot be called the corner [of the garment ]; [it is] the garment [itself].

[This law also applies] if one distanced the hole more than three thumbbreadths [from the corner of the garment] and then, while attaching the tzitzis, shortened the part of the tzitzis that lies on the garment in order to cause the garment to become wrinkled and doubled over. Even though the space between the hole [and the beginning of the braid] is [now] less than three thumbbreadths, [the tzitzis are nevertheless] invalid.

יד כְּשֶׁעוֹשֶׂה הַנֶּקֶב38 שֶׁתּוֹחֵב בּוֹ הַצִּיצִית – לֹא יַעֲשֶׂנּוּ לְמַעְלָה מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה גּוּדָלִין מִשְּׂפַת הַבֶּגֶד,סד, 39 מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:19 "עַל הַכָּנָף",סה וּלְמַעְלָה מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה אֵין זֶה כָּנָף אֶלָּא בֶּגֶד.סו וְאִם עָשָׂה הַנֶּקֶב לְמַעְלָה מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה גּוּדָלִין,סז אַף עַל פִּי (שֶׁכְּשֶׁעוֹשֶׁה) [שֶׁכְּשֶׁקּוֹשֵׁר] הַצִּיצִית בַּבֶּגֶד עוֹשֶׂה הַחוּטִין קְצָרִים עַל הַכָּנָף כְּדֵי לְהַקְמִיט הַכְּנָפוֹת וּמִתְכַּפֵּל עַד שֶׁבָּא הַנֶּקֶב לְמַטָּה מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה גּוּדָלִין – אֲפִלּוּ הָכֵי פָּסוּל.

15 If one made a hole more than three thumbbreadths [from the edge of the garment], but after attaching the tzitzis he cut [the fabric around] the hole so that the tzitzis will hang less than three thumbbreadths [from the edge of the garment], [the tzitzis are nevertheless] invalid. [The rationale is that] the Torah commands,4 “You shall [initially] make yourself braided threads...,” and not [rectify tzitzis] that were made invalidly, as was stated in sec. 10[:10].

טו וְאִם עָשָׂה הַנֶּקֶב לְמַעְלָה מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה גּוּדָלִין,סח וְאַחַר שֶׁהֵטִיל הַצִּיצִית בַּנֶּקֶב חָתַךְ בַּנֶּקֶב כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּתָּלוּ הַצִּיצִית לְמַטָּה מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה גּוּדָלִין – פָּסוּל, מִשּׁוּם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:4 "גְּדִלִים תַּעֲשֶׂה וגו'" – וְלֹא מִן הֶעָשׂוּי כְּבָר בְּפִסּוּל, כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן י.סט

16 Neither should the hole be made [very] near the edge of the garment, for the Torah specifies,19on the corner[s],” and if the tzitzis were to be very close to the edge of the garment, [the tzitzis] would be below the corner.40

Accordingly, the distance of the hole from the edge of the garment should be [at least] the distance from the knuckle of the thumb to the end of the nail.41 This [length of the terminal joint of an average man’s thumb] is approximately two thumbbreadths.42 [It sometimes happens that] afterwards, while the tzitzis are being attached, the part of the threads which lies on the garment is shortened, so that the corner area is doubled over. Even though the hole is thus brought closer [than two thumbbreadths to the beginning of the braid], the tzitzis nevertheless remain valid.

טז וְלֹא יַעֲשֶׂה הַנֶּקֶב סָמוּךְ לִשְׂפַת הַבֶּגֶד,ע שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:19 "עַל הַכָּנָף",עא וְאִם הָיָה סָמוּךְ מְאֹד לִשְׂפַת הַבֶּגֶד – הָיָה תַּחַת הַכָּנָף.עב, 40 וְלָכֵן צָרִיךְ לְהַרְחִיק הַנֶּקֶב מִשְּׂפַת הַבֶּגֶד עג כְּשִׁעוּר שֶׁיֵּשׁ מִן קֶשֶׁר אֲגוּדָל עַד סוֹף הַצִּפֹּרֶן,עד, 41 דְּהַיְנוּ לְעֶרֶךְ שְׁנֵי גּוּדָלִין.עה, 42 וְאִם אַחַר כָּךְ כְּשֶׁקּוֹשֵׁר הַצִּיצִית עָשָׂה חֵלֶק הַחוּטִין שֶׁעַל הַכָּנָף קְצָרִים וְנִתְכַּפְּלוּ הַכְּנָפוֹת עַד שֶׁבָּא הַנֶּקֶב לְמַטָּה מִשִּׁעוּר שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר – אֲפִלּוּ הָכֵי כָּשֵׁר.עו

17 The distance of three thumbbreadths, and similarly, the distance “from the knuckle to the thumbnail” which should separate [the hole from the edge], should be measured directly [i.e., at 90 degrees] from the longer edge of the garment, and likewise from the shorter edge of the garment. It should not be measured diagonally from the vertex of the corner area.43

יז שִׁעוּר שְׁלֹשָׁה גּוּדָלִין אֵלּוּ שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ, וְכֵן שִׁעוּר מְלֹא קֶשֶׁר אֲגוּדָל שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְהַרְחִיק – מוֹדְדִין אוֹתָן בְּיֹשֶׁר עז מִשְּׂפַת אֹרֶךְ הַבֶּגֶד, וְכֵן מִשְּׂפַת רֹחַב הַבֶּגֶד,עח אֲבָל לֹא יִמְדֹּד אוֹתָם בַּאֲלַכְסוֹן מִן הַקֶּרֶן זָוִיּוֹת שֶׁל כְּנַף הַבֶּגֶד.עט, 43

Fig. 3: Distance from edges of garment. (See sec. 11:16 and 11:17.)
Fig. 3: Distance from edges of garment. (See sec. 11:16 and 11:17.)

Fig. 4: Tallis gadol. (See sec. 11:18 and 11:34.)
Fig. 4: Tallis gadol. (See sec. 11:18 and 11:34.)

Fig. 5: Corner of tallis gadol (See sec. 11:18 and 11:34.)
Fig. 5: Corner of tallis gadol (See sec. 11:18 and 11:34.)

18 Only while attaching the tzitzis to the garment is it necessary to be careful about the minimal distance “from the knuckle to the thumbnail” which should separate the hole from the edge of the garment.44 If, after the tzitzis were attached to the garment, some of the threads of the warp or the woof of the garment became unraveled, the hole became wider, and the tzitzis came to be less than the distance “from the knuckle to the thumbnail” [from the edge of the garment], [the tzitzis are still] valid.

Similarly, if after the tzitzis were attached to the garment, the edge of the garment became unraveled until the distance from the [current] edge to the hole was now less than the distance “from the knuckle to the thumbnail,” [the tzitzis are] valid. For only while the tzitzis are being made does the Torah require that the tzitzis not be “below the corner.” This is implied by the verse,19 “They shall make tzitzis for themselves on the corners...”; [i.e., only while making them must they be on the corners, and not below the corners].45

Initially, however, it is preferable to stitch a hem around the hole through which the tzitzis are to be inserted, so that the threads of the garment not become torn around the hole, [causing the hole to be] closer than the minimal required distance — “from the knuckle to the thumbnail” — from the edge of the garment. Otherwise, people might think that [the hole] was in this state even before the tzitzis were attached. Similarly, it is desirable to stitch a hem around the edge of the garment, so that [the fabric not become unraveled] and [the distance between each hole and the nearest edge] will not be reduced to less than the minimal required distance, which is “from the knuckle to the thumbnail.”

יח שִׁעוּר מְלֹא קֶשֶׁר אֲגוּדָל שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ פ שֶׁצָּרִיךְ לְהַרְחִיק הַנֶּקֶב מִשְּׂפַת הַבֶּגֶד44 – אֵין צָרִיךְ לִזָּהֵר בָּזֶה אֶלָּא בִּשְׁעַת הֲטָלַת הַצִּיצִית בַּבֶּגֶד, אֲבָל אִם לְאַחַר שֶׁהֵטִיל הַצִּיצִית בַּבֶּגֶד נִתְּקוּ מִחוּטֵי הַשְּׁתִי אוֹ הָעֵרֶב פא וְנִתְרַחֵב הַנֶּקֶב וְיָרְדוּ הַצִּיצִית לְמַטָּה מִמְּלֹא קֶשֶׁר אֲגוּדָל – כָּשֵׁר.פב וְכֵן אִם לְאַחַר הֲטָלַת צִיצִית בַּבֶּגֶד נִסְתַּר הַבֶּגֶד מִלְּמַטָּה בִּשְׂפָתוֹ עַד שֶׁנִּפְחַת מִן הַשָּׂפָה עַד הַכָּנָף מִשִּׁעוּר מְלֹא קֶשֶׁר אֲגוּדָל – כָּשֵׁר.פג שֶׁלֹּא הִקְפִּידָה תּוֹרָה עַל זֶה שֶׁלֹּא תְּהֵא הַצִּיצִית תַּחַת הַכָּנָף אֶלָּא בִּשְׁעַת עֲשִׂיָּה,פד שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר:19 "וְעָשׂוּ לָהֶם צִיצִת עַל כַּנְפֵי וגו'".45

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם לְכַתְּחִלָּה טוֹב לַעֲשׂוֹת אִמְרָא סְבִיב הַנֶּקֶב שֶׁתּוֹחֵב בּוֹ הַצִּיצִית,פה כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִנָּתְקוּ הַחוּטִין שֶׁל בֶּגֶד מִבִּפְנִים סְבִיב הַנֶּקֶב,פו וְיִפְחַת מִשִּׁעוּר מְלֹא קֶשֶׁר אֲגוּדָל מִשְּׂפַת הַבֶּגֶד, וְיִסְבְּרוּ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהָיָה כֵּן קֹדֶם הֲטָלַת הַצִּיצִית. וְכֵן יַעֲשֶׂה אִמְרָא בִּשְׂפַת הַבֶּגֶד,פז כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִפְחַת מִשִּׁעוּר קֶשֶׁר אֲגוּדָל מִשְּׂפָתוֹ עַד הַנֶּקֶב.

19 [The following is the procedure if] a strip is plaited onto the edge of a garment to reinforce it, whether along the width of the garment or along its length. One should not attach tzitzis to the bordering strip even if it is wide enough to allow [the tzitzis] to be positioned at more than the minimal distance “from the knuckle to the thumbnail” which should separate the hole from the edge of the garment.

The reason the tzitzis should not be attached to the bordering strip is that [the tzitzis must be attached] “on the corners of their garments” — and this strip is not considered an integral component of the garment, but only an auxiliary supplement to it.

יט אִם יֵשׁ גָּדִיל (שֶׁקּוֹרִין לייסט) בִּשְׂפַת הַבֶּגֶד פח שֶׁגּוֹדְלִין שָׁם, כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה חָזָק, בֵּין שֶׁהַגָּדִיל הוּא בִּשְׂפַת רֹחַב הַבֶּגֶד בֵּין שֶׁהוּא בִּשְׂפַת אֹרֶךְ הַבֶּגֶד פט – לֹא יָטִיל אֶת הַצִּיצִית שָׁם בַּגָּדִיל, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא [מַרְחִיק] מְלֹא קֶשֶׁר אֲגוּדָל מִשְּׂפַת הַכָּנָף, כְּגוֹן שֶׁהַגָּדִיל הוּא רָחָב, אַף עַל פִּי כֵן אֵין מְטִילִין בּוֹ צִיצִית, מִשּׁוּם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר "עַל כַּנְפֵי בִגְדֵיהֶם", וְהַגָּדִיל אֵינוֹ נֶחְשָׁב עִקָּר מִן הַבֶּגֶד, אֶלָּא הוּא טָפֵל וּמְשַׁמֵּשׁ לַבֶּגֶד.צ

20 [If the bordering strip is narrower than the distance “from the knuckle to the thumbnail”:] When the tzitzis are being attached to the garment itself there is no need for this required minimal distance to be measured from the inner edge of the bordering strip; rather, the strip is considered as part of this measure. The same applies to the maximal limit of three thumbbreadths [beyond which the tzitzis may not be attached]; here, too, the border is considered as part of the garment. One should therefore be careful to position the hole no more than three thumbbreadths from the outer edge of the bordering strip.

כ כְּשֶׁמְּטִילִין צִיצִית בַּבֶּגֶד עַצְמוֹ – אֵין צָרִיךְ לְהַרְחִיק מִשְּׂפַת הַבֶּגֶד מְלֹא קֶשֶׁר אֲגוּדָל חוּץ מִן הַגָּדִיל,צא אֶלָּא גַּם הַגָּדִיל נֶחְשָׁב בִּכְלַל הַשִּׁעוּר. וְכֵן לְעִנְיַן הַרְחָקַת שְׁלֹשָׁה גּוּדָלִין שֶׁאָמַרְנוּ – נֶחְשָׁב גַּם כֵּן הַגָּדִיל בִּכְלַל הַבֶּגֶד.צב וְלָכֵן צָרִיךְ לִזָּהֵר שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה הַנֶּקֶב לְמַעְלָה מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה גּוּדָלִין מִן שְׂפַת הַגָּדִיל הַחִיצוֹנָה.

21 Although the bordering strip is considered as part of the garment with regard to measuring the distance “from the knuckle to the thumbnail,” initially it is preferable to measure that distance without counting the strip. [The hole must, however, still] be within three thumbbreadths of the edge when including the border, as explained.46 If the border is very wide, [i.e., more than one thumbbreadth,] it should be partly cut off and narrowed.

כא אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַגָּדִיל נֶחְשָׁב בִּכְלַל הַבֶּגֶד לְעִנְיַן שִׁעוּר מְלֹא קֶשֶׁר אֲגוּדָל, מִכָּל מָקוֹם לְכַתְּחִלָּה טוֹב לִמְדֹּד מְלֹא קֶשֶׁר אֲגוּדָל בְּלֹא הַגָּדִיל צג וְיִהְיֶה הַנֶּקֶב תּוֹךְ שְׁלֹשָׁה הַגּוּדָלִין עִם הַגָּדִיל כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר,צד, 46 וְאִם הַגָּדִיל רָחָב הַרְבֵּה – יַחְתֹּךְ מִקְצָתוֹ.צה

22 When the threads of the warp extend beyond the edge of the garment without the woof, or the threads of the woof extend without the warp, since the weave is not complete there is a question whether these [loose] threads are considered part of the garment. One should therefore be careful that the hole be positioned at not more than three thumbbreadths from the [outer] extremities of these threads, lest they be considered part of the garment. If these threads are very long, they should be cut short.47 Conversely, when measuring the distance — “from the knuckle to the thumbnail” — of the hole from the edge of the garment, one must ensure that this [minimal required] distance not include these threads, lest they are not in fact considered part of the garment.

כב אִם בִּשְׂפַת הַבֶּגֶד בּוֹלְטִין חוּטֵי שְׁתִי בְּלֹא עֵרֶב אוֹ עֵרֶב בְּלֹא שְׁתִי – יֵשׁ לְהִסְתַּפֵּק צו אִם אֵלּוּ הַחוּטִין נֶחְשָׁבִין בִּכְלַל הַבֶּגֶד אוֹ לָאו, כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵינָן כְּאָרִיג גָּמוּר, לָכֵן צָרִיךְ לִזָּהֵר שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה הַנֶּקֶב לְמַעְלָה מִשְּׁלֹשָׁה גּוּדָלִין מִשְּׂפַת הַחוּטִין הַלָּלוּ, שֶׁמָּא הֵן נֶחְשָׁבִין בִּכְלַל הַבֶּגֶד. וְאִם מֶשֶׁךְ הַחוּטִין הוּא רָחָב הַרְבֵּה – יַחְתֹּךְ קְצָתוֹ.47 וְגַם יִזָּהֵר לִמְדֹּד מְלֹא קֶשֶׁר אֲגוּדָל לְבַד מֵאֵלּוּ הַחוּטִין, שֶׁמָּא אֵינָם נֶחְשָׁבִים בִּכְלַל הַבֶּגֶד.

23 It is permissible to take one long thread, fold it over in four, insert it into [the hole near] the edge of the garment, folding [these four] over [again] making them eight, and then cut them apart,48 producing eight threads.49

If, however, [before doing so,] a person first wound even a single coil and tied even a single knot after winding the coil,50 and only then remembered to cut the ends of the threads, the tzitzis are invalid. [The rationale is that] according to Scriptural Law, one coil and one knot are sufficient [to constitute tzitzis], for the verse states,4 “You shall make yourself braided threads,” without specifying how many [coils] constitute a braid. Thus the tzitzis were already made invalidly, for when this person wound the one coil and tied the one knot, there were not four complete [valid] threads, but only one long thread folded into eight. Therefore, even if afterwards he would cut the ends of the threads, nothing at all would be changed. For the tzitzis proper were already completed invalidly — and the Torah commanded us to make braids, not to use what was already made invalidly.51

If, however, the person severed the ends of the threads directly after winding one coil, before tying even one knot after the coil, [the tzitzis are] valid. Certainly, [this applies] if he severed them after tying the first knot, before beginning to wind the coil. Since the making of the tzitzis as required by the Torah was not [completed] invalidly before the ends of the tzitzis were severed, [such tzitzis] should not be disqualified because of the obligation to “make the tzitzis, and not to use ones which are already made invalidly.”

Initially, nevertheless, it is preferable to sever the ends of the threads before one inserts the tzitzis into the hole, so that no aspect of their making will have been performed invalidly.

כג מֻתָּר לִקַּח חוּט אֶחָד אָרֹךְ וְכוֹפְלוֹ לְאַרְבָּעָה וְתוֹחֲבָהּ בַּכָּנָף וְכוֹפְלָם וַהֲרֵי הֵם שְׁמוֹנָה,צז וְאַחַר־כָּךְ פּוֹסֵק רָאשֵׁי הַחוּטִין48 וְנַעֲשִׂים שְׁמוֹנָה חוּטִין.49 וְאִם שָׁכַח וְלֹא פָּסַק רָאשֵׁי הַחוּטִין עַד שֶׁכָּרַךְ אֲפִלּוּ חֻלְיָא אַחַת50 וְאַחַר שֶׁכָּרַךְ הַחֻלְיָא קָשַׁר אֲפִלּוּ קֶשֶׁר אֶחָד – פָּסוּל,צח כֵּיוָן דְּמִן הַתּוֹרָה דַּי בְּחֻלְיָא אַחַת וְקֶשֶׁר אֶחָד,צט שֶׁהֲרֵי נֶאֱמַר סְתָם ק, 4 "גְּדִלִים תַּעֲשֶׂה" וְלֹא (נִתְפָּרֵט) [נִתְפָּרֵשׁ] בַּכָּתוּב מִנְיַן הַגְּדִילִים, אִם כֵּן כְּבָר נַעֲשׂוּ הַצִּיצִית בִּפְסוּל, שֶׁהֲרֵי כְּשֶׁכָּרַךְ הַחֻלְיָא וְקָשַׁר הַקֶּשֶׁר – לֹא הָיוּ אַרְבָּעָה חוּטִין שְׁלֵמִים אֶלָּא חוּט אֶחָד כָּפוּל לִשְׁמוֹנָה, וְלָכֵן אֲפִלּוּ אִם יִפְסֹק אַחַר־כָּךְ אֶת רָאשֵׁי הַחוּטִין – אֵין מוֹעִיל כְּלוּם, כֵּיוָן שֶׁגּוּף הַצִּיצִית כְּבָר נַעֲשׂוּ בִּפְסוּל, וְהַתּוֹרָה אָמְרָה "תַּעֲשֶׂה", וְלֹא מִן הֶעָשׂוּי כְּבָר בִּפְסוּל.קא, 51

אֲבָל אִם פָּסַק רָאשֵׁי הַחוּטִין תֵּכֶף אַחַר שֶׁכָּרַךְ חֻלְיָא אַחַת קֹדֶם שֶׁקָּשַׁר אֲפִלּוּ קֶשֶׁר אֶחָד אַחַר הַחֻלְיָא,קב וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן אִם פָּסַק אוֹתָם תֵּכֶף אַחַר הַקֶּשֶׁר הָרִאשׁוֹן קֹדֶם שֶׁהִתְחִיל לִכְרֹךְ אֶת הַחֻלְיָא – כָּשֵׁר,קג כֵּיוָן שֶׁלֹּא נַעֲשׂוּ עֲדַיִן כָּל הֶכְשֵׁר צִיצִית הַכְּתוּבָה בַּתּוֹרָה בִּפְסוּל קֹדֶם שֶׁפָּסַק רָאשֵׁי הַחוּטִין – אֵין לְפָסְלָן מִשּׁוּם "תַּעֲשֶׂה וְלֹא מִן הֶעָשׂוּי כְּבָר בִּפְסוּל".

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם לְכַתְּחִלָּה טוֹב לִפְסֹק רָאשֵׁי הַחוּטִין קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּתְחֹב אֶת הַצִּיצִית בַּנֶּקֶב,קד בִּכְדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲשֶׂה שׁוּם עֲשִׂיָּה מֵהַצִּיצִית בִּפְסוּל.

24 It is preferable to make a point of not cutting tzitzis with a knife,52 recalling the command,53 “Do not raise iron upon them.” Instead, one should bite them off with the teeth.

כד טוֹב לִזָּהֵר שֶׁלֹּא לַחְתֹּךְ הַצִּיצִית בְּסַכִּין,קה, 52 עַל דֶּרֶךְ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: קו, 53 "לֹא תָנִיף עֲלֵיהֶם בַּרְזֶל וגו'", אֶלָּא יִנְשְׁכֵם בְּשִׁנָּיו.

25 The Torah states,4 “You shall make yourself braided threads.” Is the intent that the entire [appendage] should be a braid? [No, for] it is written,19 “They shall make tzitzis for themselves,” and the term tzitzis implies separate strands, as stated in sec. 8[:12]. How is [this contradiction resolved]? A braid should extend from [near] the corner [of the garment] and the tzitzis should extend out of the braid.54

Scriptural Law fixes no minimum measure for the braid. It is valid whether one wound coils around most of the length of the tzitzis or one wound a coil,55 as long as one makes a knot after the coil. For if a coil is not followed by a knot it will not hold, and thus there will be no braid.

כה כָּתוּב קז, 4 בַּתּוֹרָה קח "גְּדִלִים תַּעֲשֶׂה לָּךְ", יָכוֹל יַעֲשֶׂנּוּ כֻּלּוֹ גָּדִיל – תַּלְמוּד לוֹמַר 19 "וְעָשׂוּ לָהֶם צִיצִת",קט וְצִיצִית הֵם חוּטִין נִפְרָדִין קי כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן ח,קיא הָא כֵּיצַד? קיב שֶׁיְּהֵא גָּדִיל יוֹצֵא מֵהַכָּנָף וְצִיצִית יוֹצֵא מֵהַגָּדִיל.54 וְאֵין לַגָּדִיל שִׁעוּר מִן הַתּוֹרָה, לָכֵן קיג בֵּין שֶׁכָּרַךְ רֹב אֹרֶךְ הַצִּיצִית בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא כָּרַךְ אֶלָּא חֻלְיָא אַחַת – כָּשֵׁר,קיד, 55 וּבִלְבַד שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה בְּסוֹף הַכְּרִיכָה קֶשֶׁר,קטו מִשּׁוּם דְּהַכְּרִיכָה אֵינָהּ מִתְקַיֶּמֶת בְּלֹא קֶשֶׁר לְאַחֲרֶיהָ, וְנִמְצָא שֶׁאֵין כָּאן גָּדִיל.

26 If one wound coils around the entire length of the threads without leaving any part of them to hang freely, [the tzitzis are] invalid, for the Torah specifies: tzitzis.56

כו אִם כָּרַךְ כָּל הַצִּיצִית וְלֹא הֵנִיחַ אֲפִלּוּ מַשֶּׁהוּ עָנָף יוֹצֵא – פָּסוּל,קטז שֶׁהֲרֵי נֶאֱמַר: "צִיצִת".56

27 When techeiles was available, our Sages ordained57 that at least seven coils be wound [around the tzitzis], corresponding to the seven heavens, for techeiles resembles the color of the sky. They also ordained58 that a knot be tied after each coil to distinguish between one and the next.

In the present era, when techeiles is not available, there is no obligation to be precise concerning the number of coils, or the number of knots between the coils. Nevertheless, the universally accepted custom among the Jewish people from times of yore is to tie five [double] knots.59

[The explanation is as follows:] It is written, “And you shall see it, and you will remember all the commandments of G‑d.” There are 613 commandments. The Hebrew word tzitzis (ציצית) is numerically equivalent to 600,60 and the eight threads and five knots [on each corner] bring the total to 613.

כז בִּזְמַן שֶׁהָיָה תְּכֵלֶת קיז תִּקְּנוּ חֲכָמִים קיח, 57 שֶׁלֹּא לִפְחוֹת מִלִּכְרֹךְ שֶׁבַע חֻלְיוֹת כְּנֶגֶד שִׁבְעָה רְקִיעִים, שֶׁהַתְּכֵלֶת דּוֹמָה לָרָקִיעַ. וְכֵן תִּקְּנוּ קיט, 58 לַעֲשׂוֹת קֶשֶׁר בְּסוֹף כָּל חֻלְיָא וְחֻלְיָא, שֶׁיְּהֵא הֶכֵּר בֵּין חֻלְיָא לְחֻלְיָא.קכ וְעַכְשָׁו שֶׁאֵין לָנוּ תְּכֵלֶת – אֵין אָנוּ צְרִיכִין לְדַקְדֵּק בְּמִנְיַן הַחֻלְיוֹת וְלֹא בְּמִנְיַן הַקְּשָׁרִים שֶׁבֵּין הַחֻלְיוֹת.קכא

וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם הַמִּנְהָג פָּשׁוּט בְּכָל יִשְׂרָאֵל מִשָּׁנִים קַדְמוֹנִיּוֹת קכב לַעֲשׂוֹת חֲמִשָּׁה קְשָׁרִים,59 מִשּׁוּם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: קכג "וּרְאִיתֶם אֹתוֹ וּזְכַרְתֶּם אֶת כָּל מִצְוֹת ה'", וְכָל הַמִּצְוֹת הֵם תרי"ג, וְ"צִיצִית" בְּגִימַטְרִיָּא ת"ר 60 וְח' חוּטִין וה' קְשָׁרִים עוֹלֶה תרי"ג.

28 It has become customary to leave four spaces between these five [double] knots and to wind several coils in each of these spaces.

How is this done? [After threading four long threads for half their length through the hole,] one should take hold of the four threads [that protrude from] one side of the corner of the garment, and the four on the other side,61 and tie them over each other twice.62 Since a single knot will not hold, it is not considered as a knot at all. One should then wind several coils with the long thread around the other seven threads. [The eight threads are now separated into their original two sets of four threads,] which are then tied together in another double knot. One should then wind another [set of coils], continuing this process until he has tied five [double] knots and has left four open spaces between them filled with coils. There is no required number of coils to be wound in each of the open spaces; one may wind as many63 as one desires.

כח נָהֲגוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת אַרְבָּעָה אֲוִירִים בֵּין הַחֲמִשָּׁה קְשָׁרִים קכד וְלִכְרֹךְ בְּכָל אֲוִיר קְצָת כְּרִיכוֹת, כֵּיצַד? לוֹקֵחַ אַרְבָּעָה חוּטִין מִצַּד אֶחָד שֶׁל הַכָּנָף וְאַרְבָּעָה מִצַּד הַשֵּׁנִי61 וְקוֹשְׁרָם קכה זֶה עַל [גַּבֵּי] זֶה שְׁנֵי פְּעָמִים,62 כִּי הָאֶחָד לֹא יִתְקַיֵּם וְאֵינוֹ חָשׁוּב קֶשֶׁר כְּלָל,קכו וְאַחַר־כָּךְ יִכְרֹךְ בַּחוּט הָאָרֹךְ סְבִיב הַשִּׁבְעָה חוּטִין קְצָת כְּרִיכוֹת, וְחוֹזֵר וְקוֹשֵׁר שְׁנֵי פְּעָמִים זֶה עַל גַּבֵּי זֶה, וְחוֹזֵר וְכוֹרֵךְ, וְכֵן יַעֲשֶׂה עַד שֶׁיַּשְׁלִים חֲמִשָּׁה קְשָׁרִים כְּפוּלִים וְאַרְבָּעָה אֲוִירִים בֵּינְתַיִם מְלֵאִים כְּרִיכוֹת. וְאֵין שִׁעוּר לְמִנְיַן הַכְּרִיכוֹת שֶׁבְּכָל אֲוִיר,קכז אֶלָּא יַעֲשֶׂה כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּרְצֶה.63

29 [Our Sages64 recommend] beautifying the tzitzis by making one third of their length — i.e., four thumbbreadths — a braid (gadil), and two-thirds [of their length], loose threads (anaf). Even if the tzitzis are longer than twelve thumbbreadths, one-third of the length should be a braid. The knots and the coils together are called “the braid” in all sources. Together they should come to no more than a third of the length of the threads, i.e., four thumbbreadths. Raaya Mehemna65 states that it is preferable that there be a whole thumbbreadth between one [double] knot and the next, without including the knots themselves.

כט נוֹי צִיצִית קכח, 64 שֶׁיִּהְיֶה שְׁלִישׁ אֹרֶךְ הַחוּטִין, דְּהַיְנוּ אַרְבָּעָה גּוּדָלִין קכט גָּדִיל וּשְׁנֵי שְׁלִישִׁין עָנָף. וַאֲפִלּוּ הֶאֱרִיךְ הַצִּיצִית יוֹתֵר מִשְּׁנֵים עָשָׂר גּוּדָלִין קל – צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה שְׁלִישׁ הָאֹרֶךְ גָּדִיל. וְהַקְּשָׁרִים וְהַכְּרִיכוֹת בְּיַחַד הֵם נִקְרָאִים גָּדִיל בְּכָל מָקוֹם,קלא וּבֵין הַכֹּל לֹא יִהְיֶה אֶלָּא שְׁלִישׁ אֹרֶךְ הַחוּטִין דְּהַיְנוּ אַרְבָּעָה גּוּדָלִין. וּבְרַעֲיָא מְהֵימְנָא קלב, 65 כָּתוּב שֶׁיִּהְיֶה בֵּין קֶשֶׁר לְקֶשֶׁר כִּמְלֹא רֹחַב אֲגוּדָל לְבַד מֵהַקְּשָׁרִים.קלג

Fig. 6: Minimum length of tzitzis. (See sec. 11:29.)
Fig. 6: Minimum length of tzitzis. (See sec. 11:29.)

Fig. 7: The dual grouping of the coils. (See sec. 11:30 and 11:31.) 11:17.)
Fig. 7: The dual grouping of the coils. (See sec. 11:30 and 11:31.) 11:17.)

30 It is customary [see fig. 7] to wind 7 coils in the first space, 8 coils in the second space, 11 in the third, and 13 in the fourth. Together they total 39, numerically equivalent to the phrase י-ה-ו-ה אחד — “G‑d is One.”66

Tzitzis are considered beautiful when all [four] sets of coils are of equal length. Thus in the first space, where there are fewer coils, they should be spaced out. In the second space they should be wound somewhat closer together; in the third space, even closer; and in the fourth space, closer yet — so that they will be of uniform length.

ל נוֹהֲגִים לִכְרֹךְ בָּאֲוִיר הָרִאשׁוֹן שֶׁבַע כְּרִיכוֹת וּבַשֵּׁנִי שְׁמוֹנֶה וּבַשְּׁלִישִׁי אַחַת עֶשְׂרֵה וּבָרְבִיעִי שְׁלֹשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה כְּרִיכוֹת,קלד שֶׁעוֹלִים כֻּלָּם לְמִסְפָּר שְׁלֹשִׁים וָתֵשַׁע, כְּמִנְיַן "הוי"ה אֶחָד".66 וּלְפִי שֶׁנּוֹי הוּא לַצִּיצִית שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אֹרֶךְ כָּל חֻלְיוֹת בְּשָׁוֶה,קלה לָכֵן בָּאֲוִיר הָרִאשׁוֹן שֶׁהַכְּרִיכוֹת הֵם מוּעָטִים – יַרְחִיקֵם זוֹ מִזּוֹ, וּבָאֲוִיר הַשֵּׁנִי – יְקָרְבֵם זוֹ לְזוֹ מְעַט, וּבַשְּׁלִישִׁי – יְקָרְבֵם יוֹתֵר, וּבָרְבִיעִי – יוֹתֵר, עַד שֶׁיִּהְיֶה מִדָּה אַחַת לְכֻלָּם.

31 There are those who follow the custom of [further subdividing these sets of 7, 8, 11 and 13 coils that occupy the four] spaces into brackets [of three].67 After winding the first three coils a little interval is left, and then three more coils are made in that first space; [after another little interval] the final coil of that space [is added]. [Then comes the next double knot.] The single coil at the end of the first space is counted together with [the first] two coils of the second set, [to make up the next bracket of three]. After another interval, another three coils should be wound. This pattern should be repeated until all 39 coils are completed in 13 [brackets of three].68 [See figs. 7 and 8.] This was the practice in the era when techeiles was available.

לא יֵשׁ נוֹהֲגִין לִכְרֹךְ הַכְּרִיכוֹת שֶׁבְּכָל אֲוִיר חֻלְיוֹת חֻלְיוֹת,קלו, 67 דְּהַיְנוּ לְאַחַר שֶׁכָּרַךְ שָׁלֹשׁ כְּרִיכוֹת הָרִאשׁוֹנוֹת – יַרְחִיק מְעַט וְיַחֲזֹר וְיִכְרֹךְ שָׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים בְּאוֹתוֹ אֲוִיר עַצְמוֹ, וְאַחַר־כָּךְ יִכְרֹךְ אַחַת מֵאֲוִיר הָרִאשׁוֹן וִיצָרֵף לְזֶה שְׁתַּיִם מֵאֲוִיר הַשֵּׁנִי, וְיַרְחִיק מְעַט וְיִכְרֹךְ עוֹד שָׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים, וְכֵן יַעֲשֶׂה עַד כְּלוֹת הַשְּׁלֹשִׁים וְתֵשַׁע כְּרִיכוֹת בִּשְׁלֹשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה חֻלְיוֹת קְטַנּוֹת.68 וְכֵן הָיוּ עוֹשִׂין בַּזְּמַן שֶׁהָיָה תְּכֵלֶת.קלז

Fig. 8: A bracket of three coils is wound (left) and tightened in place (right).
Fig. 8: A bracket of three coils is wound (left) and tightened in place (right).

32 All the measurements mentioned above with regard to the number of groupings, coils and knots apply only as initial and preferred options. After the fact, when the tzitzis have already been completed [otherwise], or in a pressing situation, e.g., on a Friday afternoon shortly before nightfall, when one does not have the opportunity [to complete tying the tzitzis according to the present custom], [the Rabbis] allowed [the less demanding requirements of] the Scriptural Law to stand. One coil and one knot are thus sufficient and a blessing may be recited over them.

לב כָּל הַשִּׁעוּרִים שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּמִנְיַן הַחֻלְיוֹת אוֹ הַכְּרִיכוֹת אוֹ הַקְּשָׁרִים אֵינָן אֶלָּא לְכַתְּחִלָּה,קלח אֲבָל בְּדִיעֲבַד שֶׁכְּבָר גָּמַר עֲשִׂיַּת הַצִּיצִית,קלט אוֹ בִּשְׁעַת הַדְּחָק, כְּגוֹן בְּעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת עִם חֲשֵׁכָה שֶׁאֵין לוֹ פְּנַאי – הֶעֱמִידוּ דִּבְרֵיהֶם עַל דִּין תּוֹרָה, וְדַי בְּחֻלְיָא אַחַת וְבְּקֶשֶׁר אֶחָד,קמ וְיָכוֹל לְבָרֵךְ עֲלֵיהֶם.

33 Some people are accustomed to tying a small [single] knot at the end of each of the eight threads [of the tzitzis] so that their component strands not unravel. There are those who refrain from doing so, because they do not desire to add any knots beyond the customary five,69 whose significance is mentioned above.70 [Moreover,] if the threads were properly twined [in the first place], it is uncommon for them to untwine.

לג יֵשׁ נוֹהֲגִין לִקְשֹׁר בְּסוֹף כָּל חוּט מֵהַשְּׁמוֹנָה חוּטִין קֶשֶׁר אֶחָד, שֶׁלֹּא יִתְפָּרְקוּ מִשְּׁזִירָתָן.קמא וְיֵשׁ שֶׁאֵינָן נוֹהֲגִין כֵּן,קמב מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵינָם רוֹצִים לְהוֹסִיף עַל חֲמִשָּׁה קְשָׁרִים69 מִטַּעַם שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר לְמַעְלָה,קמג, 70 וּבִפְרָט אִם הַחוּטִין שְׁזוּרִין יָפֶה דְלֹא שָׁכִיחַ כְּלָל שֶׁיִּתְפָּרְקוּ.

34 One should be careful to attach tzitzis to a tallis [gadol]71 in such a way that the braid which is suspended [from the garment] will touch [the edge of] the tallis [near] its corner, instead of hanging down directly towards the ground. [This is implied by the phrase19 which states that tzitzis should be] “on the corners of their garments.”72

The two lower tzitzis73 should therefore be attached to the tallis [near the extremities of its shorter edges, so that if the tallis were to lie flat, the tzitzis would extend] along the axis of its length.74 Thus, when the tallis is worn, its length will be wrapped laterally around the width of one’s body, and [the braid of] the tzitzis will [flap down loosely] along the edge of the tallis [near] its corner, touching it intermittently. If, instead, the braid would be attached to the tallis along the axis of its width, then when one wrapped the tallis laterally around his entire body from head to foot, the braid would hang down directly towards the ground, without touching [the edge of] the tallis [near] its corner.

With regard to the upper tzitzis,75 sometimes they should be attached to the tallis along the axis of its length, and sometimes, along the axis of its width. Everything depends on the manner in which the person enwraps himself in it.76 What one should be careful about is that the braid not hang down directly towards the ground without intermittently touching [the edge of] the tallis [near] its corner.

לד כְּשֶׁתּוֹלֶה הַצִּיצִית בַּבֶּגֶד קמד – צָרִיךְ לְדַקְדֵּק71 שֶׁיִּתְלֶה בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַגָּדִיל הַתָּלוּי נוֹגֵעַ וּמַכֶּה בִּכְנַף הַבֶּגֶד,קמה וְלֹא יִהְיֶה תָּלוּי כְּלַפֵּי קַרְקַע, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: קמו, 19 "עַל כַּנְפֵי בִגְדֵיהֶם",קמז, 72 וְלָכֵן שְׁתֵּי צִיצִית הַתַּחְתּוֹנוֹת73 יִהְיוּ תְּלוּיִם לְאֹרֶךְ הַבֶּגֶד,קמח, 74 דִּכְשֶׁיַּעֲטֹף בּוֹ וְיִהְיֶה אֹרֶךְ הַטַּלִּית סְבִיב רֹחַב גּוּפוֹ – יִהְיוּ הַצִּיצִית נוֹגְעִים וּמַכִּים עַל הַקֶּרֶן קמט אֲבָל אִם הָיְתָה תְּלִיַת הַגָּדִיל עַל רֹחַב הַבֶּגֶד, אִם כֵּן כְּשֶׁיַּעֲטֹף אֶת קוֹמָתוֹ מֵרֹאשׁוֹ עַד רַגְלָיו בְּרֹחַב הַבֶּגֶד – יִהְיֶה הַגָּדִיל תָּלוּי כְּלַפֵּי הַקַּרְקַע, וְלֹא יִהְיֶה תּוֹלֶה וְנוֹגֵעַ וּמַכֶּה עַל הַכָּנָף.

וּבִשְׁתֵּי צִיצִית הָעֶלְיוֹנִים75 – פְּעָמִים צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּהְיֶה הַגָּדִיל תָּלוּי לְאֹרֶךְ הַבֶּגֶד וְלִפְעָמִים לְרָחְבּוֹ,קנ וְהַכֹּל לְפִי עֲטִיפָתוֹ,76 רַק יִזָּהֵר שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה הַגָּדִיל תָּלוּי כְּלַפֵּי הַקַּרְקַע, אֶלָּא נוֹגֵעַ וּמַכֶּה עַל הַקֶּרֶן.

35 Some authorities hold that the tzitzis should not be attached to the garment in the way that is commonly done. Instead, one should make two [adjacent] holes in the garment, inserting the [four] threads through one hole and drawing them out through the other.77

The Halachah does not follow this opinion. If a person desires to be stringent with himself and follow this view, he should do so only with regard to the tallis katan, so that he will not appear to others as pretentious.78

לה יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים שֶׁאֵין לַעֲשׂוֹת הַצִּיצִית בַּבֶּגֶד כְּמוֹ שֶׁאָנוּ עוֹשִׂים, אֶלָּא יַעֲשֶׂה שְׁנֵי נְקָבִים בַּבֶּגֶד וְיָטִיל הַצִּיצִית בַּנֶּקֶב הָאֶחָד וְיוֹצִיאֵם דֶּרֶךְ נֶקֶב הַשֵּׁנִי.קנא, 77 וְאֵין הֲלָכָה כְּ"יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים" אֵלּוּ,קנב וְהַבָּא לְהַחְמִיר עַל עַצְמוֹ וְלַעֲשׂוֹת כְּדִבְרֵיהֶם – לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה כֵּן אֶלָּא בְּטַלִּית קָטָן, כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה נִרְאֶה לַכֹּל קנג וּמִתְחַזֵּי כְּיוֹהֲרָא.קנד, 78

Fig. 9: Corner of tallis katan. (See sec. 11:35.)
Fig. 9: Corner of tallis katan. (See sec. 11:35.)