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Thought for the Day: Pride in Being Chosen

Let me tell you how I feel about Nebraska.  If you were to ask me, "Which is worse, driving through Nebraska or chemotherapy?"  I would answer, "Obviously there is not comparison.  However, chemotherapy is also pretty bad."  In fact, my wife and I once cancelled a reservation and drove an extra two hours after a long day of driving with two toddlers for one reason: so we would not have to wake up in Nebraska.

That being said, while waiting at LAX for my plane home, I saw Miss Nebraska.  No, I do not collect Miss State cards.  So how did I know it was Miss Nebraska?  She was wearing a sash that said so.  Jeans and t-shirt like every other teen/early 20s in the airport, but also a bold sash emblazoned with "Miss Nebraska".  I couldn't imagine why she thought anyone in LAX would care that the duly appointed representatives of the great state of Nebraska had chosen her to bear the responsibility of that lofty title.  Given the nature of beauty pageants and their contestants, I decided that she really didn't feel a heavy responsibility to represent Nebraska.  Rather, she wanted us to know that someone (anyone, I would guess) had chosen her for something she feels is important -- beauty and personality.

The Torah tells us to put tzitzis on our four cornered garments.  Tzitzis is not a mitzvah like t'fillin; the Torah requires Jewish men to wear t'fillin.  Tzitzis are only a requirement if you happen to have a four-cornered garment.  One the details of the mitzvah is "u'r'isem oso"/that they [Klal Yisrael] should see it (the thread of t'cheles in particular, but also the tzitzis in general).  That injunction does actually require the tzitzis to be seen, instead it means that tzitzis are only required to be worn during the daytime hours (when seeing is a possibility).  That is why women are exempt; tzitzis is a time bound, positive mitzvah/mitzvas asei sh'z'man grama.

Four cornered garments are not the usual style, yet we go out of our way to contrive four cornered garments just so we are able to perform this mitzvah.  Just wearing the garment fulfills the requirements of the mitzvah; it doesn't have to be seen at all.  Yet, many of use do wear them out.  The Mishna Brura says that one should wear them out, because: "If one were a member of the king's elite guard, he would wear his uniform with pride.  All the more so, we, chosen by the King of kings, HaKadosh Baruch Hu to be His treasured nation should wear our tzitzis out in the open and with pride."

Wherever you are, whatever else you are wearing, tzitzis is a banner displaying to the world that we have been chosen and we want everyone to know.

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