I was wondering why we hold our tzitzit when we say the Baruch She’amar prayer during Shacharit. I understand why we hold the fringes during the Shema, which mentions the mitzvah of tzitzit, by why for Baruch She’amar, which does not seem to have any connection to tzitzit?


The Baruch She’amar prayer serves as an opening for the “Verses of Praise” (Pesukei d’Zimra), which tell of G‑d’s greatness and how He manifests Himself within creation. Baruch She’amar, “Blessed is He Who spoke and there was a world . . . ,” expresses the wonder and awe of creation, and how it is continually being recreated by Divine word.

The blessing of Baruch She’amar contains 87 words, the numerical value of the word paz (“pure gold”), corresponding to the crown of G‑d in the verse in Psalms: “For You have preceded him with the blessings of the good man; You have placed a gold (פז) crown on his head.”1

According to tradition, the Baruch She’amar prayer was instituted by the Men of the Great Assembly based on a note that fell from heaven.2

Holding the Tzitzit

The custom to hold the two front fringes (tzitzit) while reciting Baruch She’amar was first mentioned by Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, the Arizal, a 16th-century Kabbalist.

According to Kabbalah, there are four spiritual worlds: Atzilut (Emanation), Beriah (Creation), Yetzirah (Formation) and Asiyah (Action—our world). Although they are referred to as “worlds,” these aren’t some celestial bodies; rather, they are different planes of existence.

The Zohar explains that prayer is compared to a ladder with four rungs, corresponding to the four spiritual worlds. We start off with the morning prayers and offerings, which correspond to the world of Asiyah, and then move up the ladder as we progress through our prayers, culminating with the Amidah, which corresponds to Atzilut. The Pesukei d’Zimra, starting with Baruch She’amar, correspond to the world of Yetzirah.

As we traverse the spiritual realms through our prayer, we don’t want to just connect through our thoughts and words alone, but with some sort of action as well. Therefore, since the front two fringes (tzitzit) of the tallit also correspond to the world of Yetzirah, we hold them in our hands as we recite Baruch She’amar.3

This, incidentally, is the source for the custom to touch (and then kiss) the tefillin when we recite the blessing of Yotzer Ohr right after Yishtabach. The tefillin correspond to the world of Beriah, and the recitation of Yotzer Ohr, which is the beginning of the blessing that precedes the Shema, signals our ascension into the world of Beriah.4

Other reasons for this custom:

A Reminder of the Ten Attributes

In the first part of Baruch She’amar we say Baruch (“blessed”) 10 times (excluding when it is said as an added praise when mentioning G‑d, such as Baruch hu). This corresponds to the 10 Utterances with which G‑d created the world, as well as the 10 Commandments and the 10 sefirot (attributes of G‑d). To remind us of this, we hold the two front tzitzit, since each one has five knots, which all together make ten knots.5

Making Tzitzit

The verse discussing the mitzvah of tzitzit states, “You shall make yourself twisted threads (גְּדִלִים—gedilim).”6 The numerical value of the word gedilim is 87, hinting that when we recite Baruch She’amar, which contains 87 words, we should hold our tzitzit.7

Holding the Name of G‑d

Another reason given is that the word Baruch (“blessed”) appears a total of 13 times in Baruch She’amar. The number 13 is the numerical value of the Hebrew word אחד (echad—“one”), signifying the oneness and unity of creation, which is what Baruch She’amar is all about. However, the word Baruch is used with G‑d’s name only twice (once at the opening and once at the closing of the second half of the prayer), and since we usually say blessings with G‑d’s name, we hold the two front tzitzit. Each fringe has eight strings and five knots, adding up to 13, and when we gather the two front fringes together, we have 26, the numerical value of G‑d’s essential four-letter name.8