Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: ציצית -- The Tie That Binds

Check out this out!
 הלכות ציצית סימן יא
סעיף יג, סוף ס''ק סד, שער ציון (*): עיין בא''ע סימן קכה ס''ד בט''ז סק''י דמחמיר שם, ואולי לענין תולמ''ה כל שהוא עושה מעשה הצריכה לעצם ההכשר. ועיין סוכה יא

I know, I know... brings tears to your eyes, right?  What's that?  You want some context?  Ah; good point.  Allow me to elaborate.

You would think that hilchos ציצית would be simple to the point of being nearly boring.  Ho-hum, four cornered garment, ho-hum eight threads, ho-hum five knots, ho-hum some windings between the knots.  I mean, we don't even have תכלת any more  (despite the blue threads you see intermingled in some people's ציצית; not really forbidden, but also not really תכלת). Sure there are some details in how big the garment needs to be, how long the threads need to be, what materials are good, etc.  Normal stuff.

Here's the complication: תעשה ולא מן העשוי (affectionately known by its abbreviation: תולמ''ה)/threads must be transformed into ציצית on the garment; it is no good to have ציצית just appear fully made on the corner of a garment.  For example, imagine tying a beautiful set of tassels on a tiny square of  wool (they are not ציצית because they aren't attached to a garment large enough to require ציצית ), then sewing that square onto a regular sized tallis.  You would have to actually untie them are start again because of תולמ''ה.  Another example: You tie your threads onto the very edge of a tallis  (not "one the corner" but halichically under the corner), then sew more edging on the tallis to make those tassells at the regulation distance from the edge.  Again, you would have to actually untie them are start again because of תולמ''ה.

Before the next case, please note that even though we make five knots and lots of windings, but to fulfill the Torah obligation one only need make one set of windings and one knot to hold them in place.  Ok, here we go: you take one really, really long thread and run it four times through a hole in corner of a tallis, then you take the end and make one set of windings, but still haven't tied a knot after the winding (so they will unwind if you let go).  With me?  Now technically, this is probably not a halachic ציצית, but it's uncomfortably close.  Now you decide to cut where the threads are doubled back to the garment -- transforming, presto chango -- one thread into eight (ie, four doubled through the hole).  So... can you continue tying those threads into ציצית, or have you already crossed a line and need to start all over again because of תולמ''ה?

The Mishna Brura (סעיף יג, סוף ס''ק סד) is lenient, but nervously refers you to many who are stringent.  I don't want to ruin your surprise, but upon following the references in that footnote, you will find a discussion of writing a get (if a drop of ink falls on the parchment, then you dip your quill in to draw it into a letter -- is that called an act or writing, or do you have to start over?), a pit in a public thoroughfare (if one person digs the pit and leaves it uncovered, then another uses it and also leaves it uncovered -- who is responsible for damages: does the act of using it make it a new pit and the second guy is responsible, or is the first guy still responsible since he started it?), and a sukkah (if you schach is too high, then you lower it or raise the floor -- does that work or do you have to start over?)

Two things. (1) If you even learn hilchos ציצית correctly, you are going to be learning כל התורה כולו/the entire Torah.  (2) The Mishna Brura did just that... which is why the Mishna Brura has the exalted status that it does.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…