Donning the Tzitzit

Putting on the Four-Cornered Garment with the Fringes Upon Each Corner

The Tzitzit are attached to a four-cornered garment (arba kanfot) as a reminder in accordance with the mitzvah commanded by Hashem (BaMidbar 15:37-41) which is also read as the third paragraph of the Shema'.

Though four-cornered garments were common in ancient times, the changing styles could have rendered this mitzvah obsolete, but to prevent this the Sages encouraged the wearing of a specially-made four-cornered garment called a Tallit Kattan.

The numerical value of the letters in the Hebrew word tzitzit happens to be exactly 600. To make this numer to add up to 613, corresponding to the 613 mitzvot, the tzitzit is made of eight threads with five knots. In this way each of the four tzitzit on the four corners of the garment represents all of the teachings of the Torah, and therefore the wearing of tzitzit is said to be of equal merit with the observance of the whole Torah (Nedarim 25a). The 39 windings that go into the making of each fringe represent the numerical value of "YKVK Echad" - Hashem is One.

In readiness to put on one is to hold the tallit katan, inspect the tzitzit, and recite the following blessing:

Baruch atah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha-olam asher kid'shanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu al mitzvat tzitzit
Blessed are You, Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe, Who has sanctified us with His commandments, and has commanded us regarding the commandment of tzitzit.

May it be Your will, Hashem, my G-d and the G-d of my forefathers, that the commandment of tzitzit be as worthy before You as if I had fulfilled it in all its details, implications, and intentions, as well as the six hundred thirteen commandments that are dependent upon it. Amein, Selah!

Cited References

BaMidbar 15:37 Hashem said to Moshe, saying: 38 "Speak to the Benei Yisrael and say to them that they shall make themselves tzitzit on the corners of their garments, throughout their generations. And they shall place upon the tzitzit of each corner a thread of techelet. 39 It shall constitute tzitzit for you, that you may see it and remember all the mitzvot of Hashem and perform them; and not explore after your heart and after your eyes after mitzvot and be holy to your G-d. 41 I am Hashem, your G-d, Who has removed you from the land of Egypt to be a G-d unto you; I am Hashem your G-d.

Talmud Bavli - Nedarim 25a Then let him adjure then, to fulfill all the commands? That might imply [the precept of] fringes,7 for a Master said, The precept of fringes is equal to all the [other] precepts of the Torah.8

7  BaMidbar 15:38.
8  Because it is written, and it shall be unto you for a fringe, that you may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of Hashem.
ibid. 39.