Tzitzis: Advance and Retreat, part II

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8 Responses

  1. Barzilai says:

    Regarding the dual nature of tzitzis, that it is shekulah but voluntary: A careful reading of several of Reb Moshe’s drashos indicates that his approach was that this duality combines the benefits of the eino metzuveh ve’oseh with the benefits of metzuveh ve’oseh, of ahavah and yir’ah. One may avoid begadim that are chayav. But when one chooses to wear such a beged, he is chayav to put in tzitzis.

    Applying Rabbi Sacks’ philosophical analysis as a basis for not wearing the strings where they can be seen (in the absence of any generally accepted halachic stance to that effect) is a particularly apt concept for parshas Korach, wouldn’t you agree?

    I know you usually don’t comment on comments; perhaps you don’t read them at all. But lipoteir belo klum ee efshar, as the saying goes.

  2. very interesting, especially the historical info about wearing tsitsis “out” vs “in”. growing up, one of my friends’ grandmothers, a holocaust survivor, would always yell at us when we wore our tzitzis out; she said that “back in Europe, where everyone was so much more religious than you American kids today, no one ever wore their tzitzis out”

  3. micha says:

    R’ Aharon Rakeffet calls all such wearing of uniforms — black hat, black suit white shirt, tzitzis out — “chassidus”. He says that even the Litvisher yeshiva world became chassidim, Chassidus won.

    But he doesn’t begrudge it. In today’s world, something that creates a sense of belonging to a culture that still retains allegance to higher moral and spiritual values is very important.

    He tells the story of a Lubavitcher chassid who was formerly a sailor. The man still cursed like a sailor, but now did so in levush! He is much better off. Now he has an anchor to something holy, something pulling him in the right direction.

    So perhaps it’s not far fetched to answer your friend’s grandmother (who can hopefully still get berakhos for a long and healthy life) that yes — BECAUSE back in Europe, everyone was so much more religious than us American kids today, they didn’t need to wear their tzitzis out.

    The uniform may be worn to impress others. But the value is that it also impresses ourselves.


  4. YD says:

    According to this approach, the practice of many schools and camps to check children for tzitzis, penalize them for not wearing, and forcing them to wear tzitzis, would be defeating the entire purpose. If the tallis koton is mean to represent our innermost acceptance of mitzvos, then forcing it wouldn’t do much good. To get a little mystical, maybe this would explain why there is such an innate rejection of tzitzis by Jewish children nowadays (at least in certain circles).

  5. Isn’t the custom to wear tzitzis showing outside of one’s clothing based on וראיתם אתו?

  6. micha says:

    Yes, that’s the reason the Mishnah Berurah gives for wearing one’s tzitzis out. We know from photos and family history that the CC himself didn’t wear his tzitzis out. (Nor did anyone else in his area and period. Chassidim wore their tzitzis out, but the garment as well.)

    So it would seem that this idea was (1) one of the sections of the MB written by his students; (2) intended as theory, not practice (and the intro says the MB is a survey, not a book of rulings), or both.

    I am suggesting that the reason why people in general do not find the MB’s reasoning compelling is that these rishonim assumed that the tallis qatan is supposed to be private.


  7. i tired searching Bar Ilan for any halakhic midrash that understands וראיתם אותו to mean that, but came up with nothing. unless there’s an earlier source, it seems to be the first example i’ve ever heard of halakhic ‘modern midrash’.

  8. micha says:


    I don’t think anyone says on a halachic level that one must wear the tzitzis out, either to fulfill the mitzvah, or the minhag of tallis qatan (according to the Mordechai et al who say tallis qatan is an undergarment that doesn’t require tzitzis), or to be allowed to wear the garment.

    Rather, it’s a modern minhag or perhaps only hanhagah (I never thought about the formal definition of the line between them) based on wanting to fulfill what would seem to be the point of the verse. All agree that halakhah is about the derashah of ur’isem oso — that we’re talking about daytime, and not peshat — that one must be able to see them.

    That would take it away from the realm of modern medrash halakhah.

    BTW, in my experience it works for a slightly different reason. Sometimes their catching my eye guilt me into towing the line, but that’s rare. More often I catch myself because I realize others see it, and will judge more than just me by my actions.

    Side note as one pendant to another: I spell the word “halachic” since the word only exists in Yinglish, and “ch” is standard Yinglish spelling. Yinglish uses the Latin alphabet, and the words aren’t transliterated. Whereas I prefer to transliterate the letter khaf in words that are transliterated as “kh”. And so, I would write that the word “halachic” means “being about halakhah”.

And your thoughts...?

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