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What is Tzitzit? [Complete Guide]

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Tzitzit are the tassels or fringes worn as ceremonial or traditional garments by Jewish males that remind about the Deuteronomy commandments. These are specially-knotted ritual tassels and fringes worn with antiquity mainly by Israelites and nowadays by observant Samaritans and Jews. Tzitzit are also attached into the four corners of the prayer shawl known as taliit and the taliit katan – an everyday undergarment. The word Tzitzit also pertains to poncho-like mini taliit which can be worn throughout the day usually under a shirt.

Etymology of Tzitzit  

Tzitzit man

The word might be derived from Semitic root N-TZ. The “It” end is referred to as the feminine adjectival suffix used to form a feminine singular noun. The N-TZ-H originates from the root word “Flower” and, originally means “lock” or tassel, as it is in Book of Ezekiel wherein Ezekiel was chosen by the angel and was carried by the lock or Hebrew Tzitzit of the hair.

In the English language and academic texts in Judaica, such term is sometimes rendered as “show fingers.” A famous interpretation of Tzitzit is that it derives the word from the Akkadian clothing vocabulary sisiktu or a loom, edge or thread or tsitstsatu or floral ornamentation.

This theory is upheld by the way that the custom of making fringes from broadening the embroidery threads was basic in the old Near East as a means of strengthening the fabric. The further examinations of antique iconography propose that aside from such pragmatic purpose or reason the tassels can likewise decorate and enrich the fabric and all things considered be a marker of the economic wellbeing or social status-the more elegant or intricate the fringes, the higher the owner’s position is.  Also, given the novel nature or very tassel, it could likewise be utilized as personal signet for fixing and sealing documents.

 This information has driven the researchers to expect that practice itself is of extremely old inceptions and was just optionally included into the Hebrew Bible where it was contributed with new religious meaning.

Tzitzit – The Mini Taliit

big tallit
Big Tallit

God instructed the Jewish individuals to fasten fringes into the sides or corners of their garments so they would continually remember Him and also His commandments.  Around then, the normal piece of clothing was a simple cloth sheet, and mitzvah was to append fridges to each of the four corners. In any case, styles changed throughout the hundreds of years, and the standard garments of the biblical times were replaced with shirts, trousers, jackets, and robes. What might happen to tallit? Jewish men at that point started to fulfill the mitzvah in two different ways such as:

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a) During petition or prayer, where they wrap themselves in tallit gadol or “big tallit,” which has remained as before since antiquated times

b) They wear small poncho called the tzitzit, the tallit katan or the small tallit, or the arba kanfot (four corners). For many of them, this fits conveniently under a shirt.

Tzitzit-The Tassels

Tzitzis Threads

The fringes joined to tallit of either estimate are referred to as tzitzit. They are quite often made of fine white wool and should be revolved with the holy intention that they are utilized for the mitzvah. So if you have to replace the snapped thread, ensure that you buy exceptional tzitzit treads.

On every corner, 4 threads are being threaded through an opening or hole and then looped over.  There are therefore eight strings that hang down. A progression of two-fold coils and knots eventually join the very first few inches of every corner’s tassel to a single cord. Then, the remainders of the 8 threads are free to hang down simply.

What Do Tzitzit Means?

The 8 strings and the five knots are the physical representation of Torah’s 613 mitzvahs. It significantly works this way: Every letter in the Hebrew alphabet has corresponding numerical value or gematria. The numerical estimations of those 5 letters which include Hebrew word tzitzit adding up to around 600. Add then the 8 strings, and 5 knots of every tassel and the sum is 613.

Tzitzit for Women

The law of the Torah
The law of the Torah

In the rabbinic law, tzizit is well-thought-out as a  positive and time-dependent as the Torah has mentioned seeing a person ’s tzitzit, and one couldn’t see them in darkness of the night, but instead just in daytime. Generally, ladies are not required to carry out positive and time-dependent commandments but rather might perform them in case they decide to. In this manner, numerous Rishonim allowed ladies to wear the tzitzit including Ra’ah, Isaac ibn Ghiyyat, Baal HaMaor, Rambam, Rashi, Rabbeinu Tam,  Raaviyah and Rashba. The Shulchan Aruch likewise rules that ladies may wear pieces of clothing with tzitzit. Opinions vary whether ladies might make blessings in such discretionary commandments. In general, the Ashkenazi women make the blessings, and the Sephardic women don’t.

Other Rishonim at the same time hold that ladies ought not to wear tzitzit for different reasons.  Rema states that while ladies are permitted to wear a tallit, doing such will appear like being arrogant (youhara). The Targum Yonatan Ben Uzieland Maharil and the see clothing with tzitzit as a piece of clothing for male and along these lines prohibited to ladies as cross-dressing. Some different sources mention concern for the shaatnez of the carrying on shabbat.

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Most modern authorities restrict the wearing of tallit by women, although Moshe Feinstein, Eliezer Melamed, and Joseph Soloveitchik favor ladies wearing tzitzit in privately provided that their motivations are for the sake of God over the motivations triggered by certain external movements like feminism And not according to the values of Judaism.

The Strings and the Process of Putting the Tzitzit on the Garment

On every corner, four strings are circled through the hole, and wrap down on the two sides, giving the presence of eight tassels for every corner. The upper 1/3 of tassels is a progression of five two-fold knots, isolated one from another with four windings sets. Underneath the bottom knot, the remaining 2/3 of every string hangs loosely. Each segment of windings and knots ought to around one inch or 2.5 cm. for a sum of 4 inches of windings and knots and 8 inches of free-hanging strings.

The hole in every corner must be around 2 inches from the edge to fulfill the biblical necessity that it should be on the corner of the garments. In case of corner tears, it is usually repaired.

The strings should either be made from wool or from similar materials from which garments are made.  Every string really comprises of two threads turned together and should be spun particularly for Tzitzit. Therefore, one should purchase Tzitzit that convey appropriate rabbinic supervision.

Once you have bought the strings, it is not so hard to attach them all by yourself. It is meaningful and fun. The right processes of putting Tzitit in the garment are as follows:

  • Utilize 4 strings, one that is longer  in order to wrap around the other effectively
  • Tie the 4-ends together to make sure that every string will be with one end on every side
  • You then need to insert strings to the hole
  • Tie the double knot
  • The longer string should be wind around others about 7 times
  • Tie the double knot and then wind longer string around the others 8 times
  • Tie the double knot and then wind longer string around the others  11 times
  • Tie the double knot and then wind longer string around the others  13 times
  • Tie the fifth and final double knot
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Why are the strings wound with 13, 11, 8 and 7 windings?

  • 7 represents the perfection of the physical world that was created in 7 days
  • 8 is the number of transcendence which goes beyond nature
  • 11 pertains to a numerical value  vav-hey; the last 2 letters of the God’s name
  • 13 is the numerical  value for echad-one

Even though a Tallit Katan is worn under a shirt, there are diverse traditions as to whether the tassels ought to be left visible and hanging out. Given the Tzitzit purpose, it is viewed as better to wear this “untucked” so the wearer can look at them more often and utilize them as an anchor. Be that as it may, if this would cause humiliation or contradiction when living among non-Jews, it’s acceptable to have strings properly tucked in.  

The Garment

Tzitzit Garment
Tzitzit Garment

Only one 4-cornered garment is needed to have this Tzitzit. Poncho, for instance, requires Tzitzit. The regular button-down dress shirt doesn’t require Tzitzit since it only has 2 corners. Similarly, the t-shirt doesn’t require Tzitzit because it has no corner. Nevertheless, one will cut one slit up the side of the shirt so the majority of sides are open which in effect would create 4 corners and t-shirt will require Tzitzit.

Nowadays, since 4-cornered garments aren’t very common, some seriously go of their ways to wear the 4-cornered garment to perform the essential mitzvah.

Other Representations of Wearing Tzitzit

  • The Tzitzit commandments are as important as the other commandments, and those individuals who wear Tzitzit is considered as if he’d observed all important commandments.
  • Torah asserts that by just looking on the Tzitzit or maybe the tekehelet colored thread has salutary effects on individuals wearing Tzitzit enabling them to remember mitzvoth and observe them.

So Why Tzitzit?

Apart from the mystical explanations that Tzitzit reminds people of heavens and seas of God, the Rabbinic literature has few things to say about the reasons Tzitzit will remind Israelites to keep the commandments of God. Rashi, for example, needs having some recourse on numerology in an attempt of finding meaning to Tzitzit.

Tzitzit will remind everyone of the commandments since numerical value of letters of the Tzitzit word is 600 and there are actually 5 knots and 8 threads making it 613 and as known to many, this is also the number of Torah’s commandments.

Having learned all these essential details about Tzitzit, you are now probably attained more knowledge and insights about ceremonial garments by Jewish males. You have perhaps understood the impacts of such garments to their lives and their belief and practices as well. If you wish to learn more about these garments by Jewish males, there is still more information you can get online to add to your knowledge and familiarity on Tzitzit.  

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