MBY 11:6-9 Tzitzis: The Strings (part c)MBY 11:6-9 Tzitzis: The Strings (part c)
Our first two topics today will hopefully never apply, so we will mention them just briefly:
1) Stolen wool or tzitzis strings. These should not be used for the mitzvah, as the Sages inferred from the pasuk, “And they shall make for themselves (i.e. and from themselves) tzitzis!
2) Wool or linen materials that were instruments of idolatry should not be used, as they are a disgrace to the mitzvah. (Ed: Just in case a person might think that it’s a good thing, because we are transforming the material from idol worship to Divine worship, the halacha teaches us just the opposite!)
Question: What about borrowed tzitzis? Does one not fulfill the mitzvah because they do not belong to him? Answer: If someone “lends” someone tzitzis strings to tie onto his talis or wool for him to make tzitzis with, the intent of the lender is certainly that the borrower should keep them and return others in their stead. Thus, the “borrower” is considered to be the rightful owner, and he fulfills the mitzvah without question. (Note: Stay tuned for the more common scenario of borrowing someone else’s talis, which obviously has different implications, because the lender certainly wants his talis back!)
Question: When it comes time to attach the strings on the garment of the talis, the first major question is: Where does one attach them? What does the Torah mean when it says (Bamidbar 15:38): “… on the corners of their garments”?
Answer: The Talmud gives the formula: not too close to the edge and not too far from the edges of the corners. They teach that if the fringe would be too far from the edge it would be not be on the edge at all, and if it would be to close, it would be under the edge. Apparently, the word ‘kanaf’ (lit. corner or edge) implies some kind of border that is a bit removed from the actual edge itself. The actual measurements are as follows: 1) at least a half-thumb’s distance from the edge (i.e. the distance from the tip of the thumb to the first knuckle), and 2) within three fingers’ width from the edge (i.e. preferably the third, fourth and fifth fingers held together). This distance should be observed from both the side edge and the bottom edge of each corner. (Note: As long as the hole is placed in the right spot, it does not matter if the initial loop is pulled tightly, thereby folding up the material of the corner. In fact, we will learn that it is proper to make the loop small, so that the fringe hangs over the side of the talis and does not fall straight down to the lower edge. Can you picture that?) (Ed: Most people who tie their own tzitzis buy the garment which already has the hole in it, so this aspect of the process is already done. Incidentally, some ‘talisos ketanos’ are made with two holes, so that the fringe comes out of only one side of the garment. Although this is not the standard halacha, if one has a particular custom to tie it this way, he may do so, but preferably not in his talis gadol, which is more visibly different than what the halacha says.)