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Thought for the Day: Valuation the Torah Way

I love paradoxes.  I have always found that to be the best way to really deepen one's understanding of any subject.  Maybe the word "subject" is too small when talking about understanding life, but its all we have.  The last two halachos in the third perek (hilchos tzitzis) in Halichos Shlomo seem to be at odds with each other.
  1. An adult (gadol) may only lend his tallis to a child (koton), not give it to him.
  2. A tallis gadol may be used to make a tallis koton.
Why might one do either one of those?  The easiest answer to that is when someone buys a new tallis gadol that is nicer than the one he has now.  A father with the minhag that k'tanim wear a tallis gadol for davening, or a kohein who's son is getting old  enough to duchan may want to give the old tallis gadol to his son.  Alternatively, he may want to cut it down a bit and use it to make a very nice tallis koton.  So what's the paradox?  It is explained in the D'var Halacha that the reason a gadol may not give a koton his tallis is because it is not appropriate to lower the use of the tallis gadol from the mitzvah d'oraisa of a gadol wearing it to only the mitzvah d'rabanan of a koton wearing the tallis.  On the other hand, as brought in the Mishna Brura, it is appropriate for a man to have a tallis gadol specifically for Shabbos and it should be as nice as he can afford -- which is in line with kavod Shabbos.  If it is not in keeping with the kavod of the tallis gadol for me to give it to a minor, how is it in keeping with the kavod of that same tallis gadol to turn it into a tallis koton?

The S'porno in parshas mishpatim explains why the master gets 30 s'la'im if his eved is accidentally killed.  The eved, notes the S'porno, is chayiv in the same mitzvos that a woman his, so his value is thae same as the price fixed for someone who accepts on himself to give "erech" of a woman to the beis hamikdash.  That is, the value of a mensh is the mitzvos he can do.  The value of an article is the mitvos it can enable a person to perform.  When it comes to the tallis gadol for Shabbos, it is Shabbos that is being honored by a nice tallis.  When it come to a koton, however, the tallis itself is being used for a "lower" mitzvah (d'rabanan rather than d'oraisa).  On the other hand, since the mitzvah of tzitzis is equivalent (in some dimension) to doing all the mitzvos and a tallis koton is worn all day, the tallis koton is actually enabling more moments of fulfillment of the mitzvah of tzitzis than the tallis gadol (which is worn only for davening).  It comes out, then, that it is not only permitted but actually meritorious to convert the tallis gadol to the tallis koton!

Torah eyes just see things differently.  They see reality instead of facade.


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