Tzitzit Tying Questions

I've been looking into tekhelet and glad to see the practice resurrected. While I know that there are many ways to tie tzitzit, as a Sephardic jew, I've heard that the 10-5-6-5 with the ridge is the typical Sephardic method. Is there still a need to have the first and last wrap the same color as the tallit in the 10-5-6-5?

All the customary methods of tying tzitzit with white only were developed to infuse the tzitzit with meaning lost with the loss of tekhelet. When tying with tekhelet, one of the tekhelet methods should be employed. Sephardim should tie the tzitzit with tekhelet according to the Rambam method.

- Mois Navon

Using your videos off of Youtube and much trial and error, I was able to correctly tie the Tzitzit according the Rambam. However every time I tie them they stay tight for a few days, then begin to become loose again, with many of the chulyot bunching together. I have tried tying them tighter and still no luck. Do you have any advice?

Looking at the step by step description
(http://www.tekhelet.com/diagrams/RambamDetailInstructionLORES.pdf), when doing steps 32-36, you should try to wrap the blue quite snugly. Then after you pull the blue string through (step 39) you should make sure the string is pulled through (FIRMLY), don’t pull too hard or yank, because the string will snap, but you do need to pull firmly to make sure he hulya is now a strong knot.
- Mois Navon

Is there any downside to tying like R. Shachter?

R. Schachter has derived a sheeta designed to fulfill two differing opinions on tying in the Gemara – i.e., do we tie 7 to 13 groups of 3 wraps, or 3 groups of 7 to 13 wraps. Each position interprets the gemara in opposite fashion and are thus self contradictory. He is surely aware of this and may nevertheless hold that it is better to try to reconcile them in practice.
- Mois Navon

I recently learned of a mishna berurah which says you can't cut the strings? Why did you say I could? Are my tzitzis kosher?

There are several halachot which deal with the requirement to cut tzitzit. One is that the strings must be cut from the spool before they are put into the
garment (Shul”A, OH, 11:12), another is that after tying they must be cut to 1/3-2/3 (Shul”A OH 11:4, 11:14 – see esp. Rama on 11:14). The Mishna Berura agrees to these cuts but notes that “one should cut with his teeth and not with
a knife” (MB 11:61). His language is one of preference not absolute obligation; and surely the final product is not made invalid by the use of a “knife”.

And so, while we use ceramic scissors, I believe that for one who does not have such an option, can use regular scissors, for the d’rabannan requirement of 1/3- 2/3 clearly outweighs the custom of not using a “knife”.

Your tzitzit are 100% kosher.

- Mois Navon

1) It is hard to get exactly three times around within a chulya, so should I get closer to two or four? If I only have 2.5 times around is that kosher? 2) The shamashim (2 white and 2 blue) are a half foot longer than my other strings which are 2/3 of the length, can I cut the shamashim shorter halachically? Is it bad for for the strings to be cut? 3)How close should the 1st knot be to the beged?

1) The gemara says to “wrap once, wrap twice, wrap thrice” so the idea is to go around three times and not necessarily to see exactly three wraps.

2) You should cut all the strings so that the hanging section is 2/3 of the total tzitzit. The cuts should not damage the strings. If they become frayed over time you should tie a small knot to stop the fraying. I have heard of people putting a drop of clear nail polish to hold the ends from fraying, but I don’t think you need to do this.
3) The first knot should be tied such that there is a slight kink in the beged.
- Mois Navon

Regarding the requirement to have 1/3 gdil and 2/3 anaf, does every single string need to maintain that ratio? In my attempt to tie w/ R. Schachter's method, most of my corners have about six strings that do meet the ratio, and one or two that fall short of it.

It would seem that l’chathila all the strings should fulfill the 1/3-2/3 ratio, R. Shachter’s method require an inordinate amount of string an we simply don’t supply enough to fulfill all of his winds ad knots and still have enough for 1/3-2/3. R. Shachter himself writes that it is important to maintain the proper Ratio and if need be make less windings.
- Mois Navon

According to what you write, wouldn't it be better to try to have three chulyas with seven wraps and four with three, in order to fully be yotzeh the shittot of both the Ra'avad and the rest of hte rishonim?

One can think up many ways to try to be yotzei all the many sheetot. I would not recommend inventing sheetot, but rather choosing one. If you want to be yotzei both the Raavad and the Rambam. Make two begadim, one tied according to the Raavad and one according to the Rambam.
- Mois Navon

Your site has multiple traditions for tying tsitsit. Sephardic tsitsit are not mentioned. Is there a reason for this?

The Rambam, being the quintessential Spanish Posek, thus defines the tradition
for “Sephardic Tzitzit”. Furhtermore, it is not that we prefer to mention it, but rather it is not relevant – there is no “Sephardic” or “Ashkenazi” way to tie tekhelet since poskim from those communities didn’t have tekhelet – rather
there are traditions from which those communities naturally draw upon – Rambam for Sephardim, Tosafot/Rashi for Ashkenazim. That being said, since the question was never decided as such, many Ashkenazim hold like the Rambam.
- Mois Navon

My main issue with the Rambam's approach is how he deals with the sifrei shelach source that seems to say that Beit Shamai holds that there is one string of tekhelet and three of white, and so goes the halacha. There is no source to my knowledge that indicates that there is 1 tekhelet and 7 whites. My Rabbi offered that he may learn Beit Shamai to be using the language one loosely to mean 1 half, for that was not his main topic, yet I find that fairly weak.

The sifrei is one halachic source but not necessarily binding – certainly the Rambam, and all who follow him on this (all Sefardi poskim, the Arizal, Radzyner, R. Hirsch, R. Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, R. Nachum Rabinovitch, R. Dov Lior, R. Herschel Schachter). There is no need to try to “squeeze” the Rambam’s position into, or out of, the Sifrei. R. Yehuda Rock, in his article on the subject in Techumin, explained that the Rambam is based on sevara,
period.
- Mois Navon

If there are four blue strings does this mean that one is the shamesh and one is not, or are they both shamoshim. If they are both shamoshim, when do you switch off?

Only one is a shamash, though if you are in a pinch for length, the mishna berura says that switching off shamashim is not meakeiv. He brings proof from tying tekhelet which requires one to switch between shamashim (albeit, between white and blue). Like I said, ideally you don’t want to switch, but if there is a need, it appears there is a leniency to do so.
- Mois Navon

Am I correct that Rav Schachter's method is the other interpretation of the Rambam except Rav Scahchter uses 2 full blue shamashim (since he says to tie 7 windings per chulya)?

Not exactly. R. Schachter is not INTERPRETING the Rambam, he is INTEGRATING the Rambam with the Raavad. R. Schachter says to use two full blue, is a completely different issue separate from the tying method. R. Schachter holds that the number of strings should be according to Rashi, Tosafot.
- Mois Navon

I was asked to tie tehelet for someone according to the Rambam (Temani). Your instructions show 3 winds per chulya. However, you state that there is a machloket as to what Rebbe meant by 7 minimum (maximum 13), i.e., chulyot or windings per chulya. You stated that one view of Rebbe is to have 7 (minimum) windings per chulya. To be yotzai Rav Schachter's view, and taking into account the shamash length, would it be more 'proper' if tying according to Rambam (Temani) to have 7 windings in the first chulya & the rest (the other 12 chulyot) with 3 windings each?

The machloket is really: Raavad (7 wraps) v. Everyone else (3 wraps). I
believe that if one want to be “yotzei” the view of the Raavad, he should wear another begged tied according to the Raavad. But if this is to cumbersome and one wanted to integrate the sheeta of the Rambam along with the sheeta of the
Raavad (as R. Schachter proposes), my opinion is that one should do 3 “chulyot” of 7 wraps, and the other 4 chulyot of 3 wraps. Furthermore, one should do the three chulyot of 7 wraps in the positions where the Raavad considered them to
be “real” chulyot, and one should place the other 4 in the middle position where the Raavad said one could wrap as he wishes. So it would look like this (where x is a double knot):
x
7
x
3
x
3
x
3
x
3
x
7
x
7
x

- Mois Navon

How do I make a string which is 1/2 blue and 1/2 white for tying using the Rambam method. Are the 1/2 white string, and the 1/2 blue string tied together? Is this process explained somewhere on your website? If not, could you please explain it to me?

We dye strings half white, half blue. To be specific, we take a very very long strand and die it blue-white-blue-white-etc. then we take 8 strings like that and we twine them together (shezira) such that the white lines up with the white and the blue with the blue. Then we cut them such that we get several “kaful shemona” cords which are each half white and half blue -
actually, each cord has more than half blue because you need more blue than white, given that the wraps (krichot) are all blue when tying like the Rambam).
- Mois Navon

I am tying according to the Raavad and I am tying using Raavad's opinion on how to tie a knot, not a double knot. So without double knots and only tying 7 krichot per chuliya, the entire g'dil ends up being very short. The result is a very short g'dil and a very long anaph. This does not even come close to rav's shlish-shnei shlish requirement. I read an article on the website talking about the requirement of shlish-shnei shlish. From what I understand there are opinions that the anaph may be lengthened much more than 2/3 of the entire tzitzit. However there were also opinions (like the ramah i think) who state that one should really strive for the shlish-shnei shlish. What should I do if my g'dil is only around 5 cm?

I am aware of this problem with the Raavad’s sheeta. The first problem is that you must have a gdil of 4 thumbreadths which according to the minimal opinion comes out to be 8 cm. In order to handle this problem, you could use THICK strings. The other possibility is to use double knots instead of the Raavad knots. Or, alternatively, you could start and end with double knots.

Alternatively, in order to maintain the sheeta of the Raavad in it’s entirety, is to make the second section with as many krichot as needed such that the total gdil will be 4 thumbreadths! This is ideal, because the Raavad himself says that this section is not a “hulya” and one can do whatever you like there.

Now there is a second problem, and that is of the shlish-shnei-shlish requirement – which is accepted as normative halacha. So once you have made your gdil at least 8 cm – you must cut your anaf to be twice the length of the
gdil. Lay the strings flat and loose (do not pull taught) to measure and to cut.

- Mois Navon

If my third chulyah of a Raavad/RNGaon tie is messed up (by loosening twisting etc.) and I had tied my second one with alternating blue white, may I just count the third chulya as the spacer and the second as real, or does the second one have to be the spacer (I assume there is no Taaseh V'lo Min HeAsui by re- designating them)? What about the first or fourth chuliya?

The Raavad holds (as opposed to all other Rishonim) that when Rebbi said 3 he was talking chulyot and when he said between 7 and 13, he was talking wraps in the chulyot. And because he wants to keep the five knots so he ends up having an extra “spacer” chulya. Based on this understanding it seems to me that the spacer can be anywhere and surely there is no “lo min ha’asuy” issue here.
- Mois Navon

In light of the fact that the chuliyot should be similar length (I think that's the Rosh), does it make sense to tie the last GRA chuliya as 12 winds so that the knots are evenly spaced? It seems to me that 3 winds per chuliyah is just a minumum.

On the one hand you are correct that the Rosh likes even windings. On the other hand the 3 wrap requirement per chulya is NOT a minimum but a strict
definition (Rebbi in Men. 39a). The reason that you see so many more windings per knot in white tying is because there is no issue of a chulya. So in the Gra, each chulya is 3 wraps, either white or blue. The number of chulyot per double knotted area is a different issue.
- Mois Navon

If you wear Tekhelet on your godol is it hypocritical not to wear it on your kattan?

It is not ideal, but it is not hypocritical. R. Dov Lior (Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Arba / Hevron) was asked by a student, “If I only have money for one set  what should I do?” The Rav responded, “Buy one set, and go and work till you  have enough money to buy more.” R. Shachter (of YU) counsels to put it on your talit katan before your talit gadol since you will have the mitzvah all day as opposed to only during tefila.
- Mois Navon

I have tied according to Rav Schachter's old method (3 wind hulyah) and I want to update to his new method (7 wind hulyah). As my strings are already cut to (1/3)(2/3), you wrote in the Tying FAQ that one should make just one hulyah 7 wraps to be yotzei all sheetot mi'd'oraita. My question is: which of the hulyot should be the 7-wind hulyah? Can I just add on to the last hulyah (farthest from the beged) or should I untie back to the first hulyah and expand that one?

R. Schachter explains that a hulyah should be 3 wraps minimum and ideally 7 wraps to be yotzei all de’ot. He writes that one can get by with one hulya of 7 wraps by making the first hulya 7 and the rest 3. It seems to me that it is entirely arbitrary which hulya you make with 7 wraps, he was just giving one option. So in your case, where you already have the strings all tied, it would be reasonable for you to untie the bottom hulyah and make it 7 instead of 3. Again, it seems to me that his main point was that you should have one hulya
with 7 wraps, not specifically the first.

- Mois Navon

Are there some tying methods that are more suited for thick strings over thin strings (halachically or aesthetic)?

There is no correlation that I am aware of between thick/thin sheetot and
halacha/aesthetics. Some people find thick strings (regardless of sheeta) to be more aesthetically pleasing on a large talit. Some people buy thick for talit katan due to greater durability (they don’t tear as easily). I have found that thin strings tear more easily when tying the Rambam teimani tying method and thus, especially for beginners, I recommend using thick, just so one doesn’t tear the string while tying.

- Mois Navon

Can I teach a woman how to tie tzitzit?

It appears to me that there is no prohibition to teach a woman to tie tzitzit
since it is clearly permitted for a woman to tie. The question of women tying tzitzit is only whether such is l’chathila or bidi’aved – and such a question only falls on the woman herself. Also, it should be borne in mind that the Rama (OH 14:1), who poskins that a woman’s tying is bidi’avad, calls the ruling a “humra”.

- Mois Navon

I would like to give a gift of tallit with tekhelet to my hatan. I know tzitzit tied by a woman are kasher bediavad, but what's the best approach, in your opinion?

The words of the Shulhan Aruch (OH 14:1) state that women can tie tzitzit,
however the Rama adds that there are those who are strict to have a man tie and “it is good to do so l’chathila.” Clearly the Ashkenazi tradition is for a women to tie only bidi’avad. The Kaf Hayaim writes that in fact so is the tradition for Sefaradim. As such it appears that you should not tie your hatan’s talit. I spoke with another Rav associated with our Amuta and he said there is a tradition for the hatan to tie his own talit or at least the last knot(s).

Permit me a wedding blessing: As you are starting off your new life as a couple with a halachic question, may you and your husband build your house in strength and happiness based on the halacha and tradition that has given life and
meaning to our people for thousands of years.

Mazal Tov,
Mois Navon

I am tying my tekhelet according to the Rambam and was wondering if I have to tie 13 chulyot, or can I tie any number of chulyot between 7 and 13. I would find that 10 chulyot would also be very symbolic.

The Gemara (Men 39a) clearly states one should not make less than 7 chulyot and
one should not make more than 13 chulyot (so too the Rambam [Hil. Tz. 1:8]), which seems to imply any number in between is acceptable. On the other hand the Gemara clearly states that the reason for 7 is to symbolize the 7 heavens and the reason for 13 is to symbolize the 7 heavens and the 6 spaces in between. So, if you don’t do 7 or 13, you lose the “heavens” symbolism. And indeed Rashi (ibid., s.v. “shisha”) says that the symbol of the heavens is what is critical about tekhelet in that it is likened to the heavens (so too Tos., ibid., s.v., “lo yifhot”). In consonance, the Mordechai (Pesachim, Tosefet Maarvei Pesachim, 611) states that one must do 7 and if he started doing more, then he must do 13, such that one either does 7 or 13 but nothing in between, lest the symbolism of the heavens be lost. So too the Binyamin Zeev (192) says must do either 7 or 13 to maintain the “heavens” symbolism. The Ritva (Pes. 104a, s.v., “veha”) quotes the Rosh who uses this statement in Men. 39a to prove that when the Gemara says “don’t do less”, “don’t do more”, the intent is do exactly the numbers given (i.e., in our case either 7 or 13 but nothing in between).

Only the R. Avraham ben HaRambam (Hamaspik L’Ovdei Hashem, ch. 33) says that though 7 is the ideal, one can use any number between 7 and 13. I would be hesitant to apply his opinion, for though it is true enough that 10, as you propose, is a number laden with symbolism, nevertheless most opinions hold that you would be replacing the originally intended “heavens” symbolism. And furthermore “10″ has its problems since the first thing that comes to mind are “the Ten Commandments” for which there were historically great philosophical fights in over emphasizing the 10 commandments to the detriment of the 613.

- Mois Navon.

While tying my tzitzit according to the Rambam Teimani method, the techelet string broke (high up on the blue though there is still enough string to tie several chulyot.

The answer to this question is just about the same as to the question if the string broke after the whole tzitzit was tied. I will reiterate that answer and relate to the specific issue of having tied even only one hulya.

The Mishna Berura (12:1:7) discusses a similar case and says that if one has a kosher string (i.e., only one side being too short), you can tie on the extra strand to make the full length.

First of all, lets be clear on terminology: the tzitzit are made of 4 full strands that are folded over through a hole in the corner of the Talit, making two sides to each full strand. The tzitzit are then knotted, making a section known as the gdil, and leaving a hanging free section known as the anaf.

The Shulhan Aruch explains that for tzitzit to be kosher (bidieved) all four strands must have at their anaf hanging at least “kdei aniva” (the amount needed to tie a knot) on one side (i.e., one side of strand could be cut to the
edge of the bottom knot of the gdil as long as the other side of the strand was kdei aniva). However, if one strand’s anaf was cut to the point that it did not have a length of kdei aniva on either side of its hanging anaf, then the
strand is pasul and so is the whole corner of tzitzit. Thus, for a strand to be kosher at least one of the sides of the strand that hangs below the last knot of the gdil must be the length of kdei aniva.

However, I hesitate to apply this ruling here because the Mishna Berura is talking about an all white string. In the case of a Rambam tekhelet string, one “half” is blue and the other “half” is white, so it seems that the white side of the string is not considered the completion of the tekhelet side. If this is true, then you have invalid tekhelet and fixing it while still tied to the talit would be considered doing it “lo min ha-asui” (not in it usual way) and thus forbidden. So really you need to untie the corner, take the strings out of the talit, tie the blue pieces of string together and then restring them
in to the talit and tie them.

Now in your case, you have one kosher hulya and quite a bit more than “kdei aniva” blue string hanging. However this hanging string is BEFORE a full gdil is tied. The Biur Halacha (12:1, s.v. “shema nifsak”) says that it would seem tying one hulya and knot, which makes the tzitzit minimally kosher d’oraita, would suffice to allow one to tie on to the broken string – however he rejects the idea because one hulya was not the intent of tying the tzitzit. So really,after a tear, you would need to have enough string to tie minimum kosher d’rabanan tzitzit which is 4 thumbreadths of gdil and 8 thumbreadths of anaf (in total quite a bit longer than 12 thumbreadths because the gdil consists of wraps and knots).

As such, if you don’t have over 12 thumbreadths hanging, I would advise untying the corner, attaching the two torn strands together by knotting and then maybe glue, and then retying the corner.

- Mois Navon.

P.S. a thumbreadth is 2 cm (acc. R. Na’eh) or 2.4 cm (acc. to the Hazon Ish). “kdei aniva” is two thumbreadths (agudalim) – either 4 cm or 4.8 cm.

I would like to know if it is ok to tie chabad, but alternating between white and tekhelet. That is, start the first wrap with white and the second with tekhelet and the next with white and so on.

The various methods of tying tzitzit stem from the various interpretation that the poskim applied when trying to understand the Rabbinic directives given in the Talmud. All the methods fulfill the Torah obligation which requires only one “kesher elyon” (upper knot) and one chulya of three wraps. So on the one hand you will be applying an integration of two accepted poskim (the
Radzyner/Chabad and the Raavad) which would seem to be safe to do; on the other hand each of those poskim had their reasons for their complete method and so we can’t necessarily mix and match without running the possibility of making
internal contradictions.

Now, in the Radzyner method, he holds the chulyot to be wraps of 3 and thus demarcates them by looping the shamash around every triplet. This is in CONTRADISTINCTION to the Raavad who holds the chulya to be a minimum of 7 wraps
(4 white and 3 blue). And so if you were to some how try to make triplets you would be creating an internal contradiction in your definition of what a chulya is!

Thus, I would recommend not combining these two methods.

- Mois Navon

Show the Content

Referring to the relevant seifim in the Shulchan Aruch Harav (see http://www.tekhelet.com/diagrams/ChabadTyingSource.htm), you are correct that the Baal Hatanya holds that the strings should be according to the opinion of Tosafot. Nevertheless, his explanation of tying appears to be like the
Radzyner – though he only writes “leave some distance” to make the chulyot visible – this of course would be impossible without some kind of wrapping to hold the demarcation. Thus the method of tying adopted by Chabad is to use the
shamash to wrap around the various chulyot as the Radzner suggests.

- Mois Navon

Show the Content

The Rambam describes his method in his Mishnah Torah (Hilchot Tzitzit 1:7-8),
wherein there is room for interpretation, and that is what the Yeminites have done – preserved an interpretation of the Rambam’s method. In Hil. Tzitzit 1:9 the Rambam explains that his custom is to tie according the method described
for tekhelet even when no tekhelet is available – and the Yemenites have indeed followed this custom throughout the ages. Thus, we are of the opinion that they have preserved the authentic interpretation of the Rambam’s method.

Regarding the video illustrations of the Rambam’s method according to the Yemenites: Videos 1 and 3 shows how to tie the first and last chulyot (respectively), both of which incorporate a white wrap with two blue wraps. Being that the Yemenites were only tying with white all these years that tekhelet wasn’t available, they were unable to preserve a tradition for these “special case” chulyot. As such, one of the people who used to tie tzitzit for Ptil Tekhelet, Noam Kaplan, developed a method for these chulyot (shown in Video Clips 1 & 3). Video 2, which shows the method of tying a
complete blue chulya, is the method transmitted by the Yemenites for tying a complete white chulya.

- Mois Navon.

I have a question for you regarding R. Schachter's shitah. I was recently told by a friend that he had changed his original shitah, whereby there were seven chulyot, each with three strings, starting and ending with a white string with blue strings in between. I remember this description from the website. Today I went on the website again and found that it is no longer three strings in each chulyah but seven. Is this his new shitah, and, if so, why did he change it? Thank you very much for your help.

You are correct in noting that R. Schachter (in his essay in “Renaissance of a Mitzvah”) originally instructed us to make chulyot consisting of 3 winds and that now (in his new book “Ginat Egoz”) he has changed his method to have chulyot of 7 winds.

The reason for this new method, he explains, is in an attempt to satisfy both sides of a mahloket rishonim regarding the statement in the Gemara (Men. 39a) which says that one should make chulyot between 7 to 13 in number and the
statement in the Gemara (Men. 38b) that one must make three wraps. Most rishonim hold that these statements mean that one should make between 7 to 13 chulyot each consisting of 3 winds, whereas the minority opinion (Raavad) holds
that the intent is to make 3 chulyot consisting of between 7 to 13 winds. R. Schachter argues that we can fulfill both opinions by making 7 chulyot consisting of a 7 winds.

It is worthy to note that he says that it is most important to maintain Rav’s ratio of 1/3 gdil and 2/3 anaf – and thus if one doesn’t have long enough strings for 7 chulyot of 7 winds that he should then only do one chulyah of 7 winds and then another 6 chulyot of 3 winds. In this way, argues R. Schachter, one is making 1 chulyah according to the stringent opinion regarding number of winds, and thus fulfilling the minimum d’oraita requirement for tying tzitzit which requires only 1 chulyah.

- Mois Navon.

I have a problem with the concept of making one white wrap in the first and last chulya. This effectively causes the one to fall short of making the 7 (or 13) completely blue chulyot. I find this problem since the Zohar (Shelah 172) seems to only mention blue chulyot with no mention at all of white wrappings.

1. The Gemara (Men. 38) is quite clear that that at least the first and last kerikha (if not hulya) is white.
2. Therefore, the Zohar cannot mean that all the kerikhot of tsitsit are blueto the exclusion of any white kerikhot.
3. The Rambam explains in Mishne Torah that the whole mitsvah of tekhelet is to make the wraps, and therefore calls the gedil “tekhelet”; nevertheless, he too says that the first and last kerikha must be white. Similarly Rav (Men. 39a,
see esp. Rashi, s.v. tekhelet).
4. Since only a single kerikha of an entire hulya is white, the hulya’s color would be considered blue (i.e., blue being the majority).
5. The concept of a white kericha/ot in tsitsit may be found in the Gra on Raya Mehemna (Pinchas 228b, mahadura batra), and Ramak on Shelah (175b). Note that according to the Remak the color of the kerikhot should have been white; the reason for leaving the beginning and end of the gedil white may be for the sake of “revealing” what is “hidden”, thereby alluding to the fact that the tekhelet is really just a “cover” and not the intrinsic color.
6. Although I personally believe that the intent of the Zohar and the Arizal is that all the kerikhot should be blue except for the first and last, the Sefer HaKaneh says to wrap alternate hulyot of white and blue (ending with white).

- Shlomoh Taitelbaum

Do people typically order Niputz Lishma?

From our sales reports most people do not buy niputz – but that certainly
should not sway your decision – niputz is a humra of having the lishma aspect
start one step sooner in the process. As you may be aware, the Shulhan
Aruch (OH 11:1) states that one must have tevia (spinning) lishma and the Rama
notes that some are “machmirin” to have niputz lishma, though he says the custom
is to be lenient. The Mishna Berura (OH 11:3) explains that the mitzvah
of making tzitzit “taaseh lecha gedilim” starts with the tevia, however,
he notes that the Prisha states in the name of the Maharal of Prague that
l’chathila one should be strict and use niputz lishma. The Aruch HaShulhan
(OH 11:4) explains the Maharal’s reasoning is that “taaseh lecha gedilim”
is stated in conjunction with shatnez, and the making of shatnez includes
the act of niputz, so one needs lishma at this level of the process. The
Aruch Hashulhan thus concludes that one should be “careful with this.”

- Mois Navon.

How hard is it to tie the tzitzit on my own?

I do not believe it is too difficult to tie your own tzitzit. Most of the
methods are relatively simple, EXCEPT for the Rambam Teimani method which
requires quite a bit of effort and practice. In any case, you have to be
willing to spend some time learning. Your goal should be to learn how to
tie – and NOT to get a begged completed. If your goal is to have a begged
ready to wear, you will be too impatient with yourself.

- Mois Navon.

Is it permissible to tie each corner with a different method?

There is no prohibition that I know of for tying a different method on each
corner – I have tied talitot like this in the past. Each method fulfills the
d’oraita requirement of a “kesher elyon” (top knot) and one “hulya” (three
winds) and all attempt to fulfill the various Rabbinic requirements stated in
the Gemara. That being said, it is my personal opinion is that one should be
consistent and tie all corners according to the same method. If one wanted to
fulfill various methods it would be preferable to have different talitot with
different methods. But again, that’s just my opinion.

- Mois Navon.

I'm having a question how to tie a Chabad Tallis Gadol and was wondering if you could help me out. On a Chabad Tallis Gadol there are 2 holes, one main hole where you put all the strings through and then a small hole on the edge of the Tallis to put the shamash through after you have tied the first knot (I believe it's there to hold the strings in place). My problem is that I'm not sure which string to pull through the small hole - the white shamash or the blue shamash?

1) Place all four strings through the main hole.
2) Tie one single knot of 4 over 4 strings (i.e., the first knot of a double
knot).
3) Take the white shamash and put it through small “shamash” hole (passing it
from the back side of the talit through to the front).
4) Tie one single knot of 3 over 4 strings thus completing the initial double
knot but with the white shamash out of the second knot.
5) Now tie (according to the Chabad/Radzyn method) the first wrap using the
white shamash – this wrap is a single wrap “knot” which serves to hold the
tassel in place at the side of the talit, thus insuring that the tassel is
always on the correct side of the talit and is “notef” off the side of the
talit (as opposed to getting pulled around the corner and merely hanging
straight down).

- Mois Navon.

With the regards to the Raavad wrapping... In the non chulya area are there any rules at all? Could I, lets say, wrap 20x - or is there still minimum of 7 and max of 13?

The idea of “minimum 7 and maximum 13″ applies specifically to chulyot – as
stated by Rebbi (Men. 39a).

According to the Raavad (see http://www.tekhelet.com/diagrams/RaavadTyingSource.htm),
the statement of Rebbi refers to the wraps of the chulyot (as opposed to most
Rishonim who understand Rebbi to mean the number of chulyot which are each
three wraps). So he requires each of chulya to have between 7 to 13 wraps. The
Raavad explains that there are to be 3 such chulyot within 5 knots.

Given that 5 knots leaves four sections between them for wrappings, three of
the sections are occupied by proper chulyot, the fourth section not being
considered a real chulya per say. As such he explains that one can wrap
however one wants in that section.

To be specific, in his hasagot on the Rambam he writes one can wrap blue or
white however he wishes, but in tshuvot he writes “dak dak” which has been
interpreted to mean white only. It is my personal recommendation that one tie
only white there in order to emphasize that the area is not a real chulya.

Regarding the number of wraps in this section, the Raavad makes no mention and
it seems clear one can wrap as much as one sees fit. It is my recommendation
that this area be wrapped with the same number of wraps that are used for the
real chulyot for then one fulfills the Rosh’s recommendation that all the
wrappings being equivalent.

Furthermore, even if one wanted to wrap some other amount, one should be
careful that the total wrapped and knotted area of the tzitzit (gdil) is
precisely one-third of the total length of the tzitzit (i.e., gdil and anaf),
in order to maintain Rav’s l’chathila requirement of shlish-shnei-shlish (see

http://www.tekhelet.com/pdf/ShneiShlish.pdf).

- Mois Navon.

Show the Content

In Pri Etz Hayim, Shaar Hatzitzit, Ch. 4 (pp. 58-59). He explains that in the
time of the Mikdash they had 7 white and 1 tekhelet on each corner. He says
that from a kabbalistic perspective tekhelet represents malchut and thus we
would really only need one string on one corner – i.e., 31 strings of white and
just one tekhelet, but he says this is not the way to do it, rather we put 1
blue and 7 white on each corner.
- Mois Navon.

Last Shabbat I noticed that one of my tzitzit had become untied; does the fact that one of the corners is untied, or different from the other three make the tallit posul?

If one of your corners has become untied this does not poseil the talit as
long as the minimum d’oraita requirements are fulfilled.

The d’oraita requirements are:
a) kesher elyon (there is a discrepancy as to whether this refers to the
uppermost knot or lowermost knot) – (see Biur Halacha, Oreh Hayim 11:10,
s.v. v’natko).
b) one chulya of three wraps (the Rambam believes that at least one of the
wraps be tekhelet).
c) there should be gdil (wound) and anaf (hanging)
d) minimum total length (some hold there is no d’oraita req. others hold
that the kdei aniva length is d’oraita – see Biur Halacha, Oreh Hayim 11:4,
s.v. ain).

Therefore your talit is not pasul as long as you have the first knot next to
the garment and then three wraps (with one or more being tekhelet) and then
another knot, and that there is some hanging part of the strings, ideally
k’dei aniva (between 4 – 4.8cm). Indeed, the Mishna Berura (Oreh Hayim
11:14:66) explains that if it was Erev Shabbat and one only had time to tie
this minimum d’oraita amount, he can wear the tzitzit on Shabbat and say the
bracha on them (though he must complete the tying after Shabbat for he has
not fulfilled the d’rabanan requirements). The Mishna Berura in his Biur
Halacha (Oreh Hayim 11:4, s.v. yoter) adds that if the tzitzit are not at
least 12 thumbreadths in length there are stringent opinions that one’s
tzitzit are in question and so though one can definitely wear them one
should not say a bracha on them.

As mentioned, one cannot rely on this for any length of time when repair is
possible for it does not meet any of the d’rabanan requirements.

The d’rabanan requirements are:
a) one must start with white and end with white.
b) one must have at least 7 chulyot.
c) the tied area must be at least 4 thumbreadths and the hanging part at
least 8 thumbreadths (thumbreadth is 2 – 2.4 cm).
d) that the tied area to hanging part be in proportion of 1/3 to 2/3

- Mois Navon.

One of the strings on my tzitzit tore and It was the white end of my techelet string (I wear Rambam techelet). I was wondering if I could tie that string together with another string and apply glue to the knot to make a longer sting?

The Mishna Berura (12:1:7) discusses a similar case and says that if one has a
kosher string (i.e., only one side being too short), you can tie on the extra
strand to make the full length.

First of all, lets be clear on terminology: the tzitzit are made of 4 full
strands that are folded over through a hole in the corner of the Talit, making
two sides to each full strand. The tzitzit are then knotted, making a section
known as the gdil, and leaving a hanging free section known as the anaf.

The Shulhan Aruch explains that for tzitzit to be kosher (bidieved) all four
strands must have at their anaf hanging at least “kdei aniva” (the amount
needed to tie a knot) on one side (i.e., one side of strand could be cut to the
edge of the bottom knot of the gdil as long as the other side of the strand was
kdei aniva). However, if one strand’s anaf was cut to the point that it did
not have a length of kdei aniva on either side of its hanging anaf, then the
strand is pasul and so is the whole corner of tzitzit. Thus, for a strand to
be kosher at least one of the sides of the strand that hangs below the last
knot of the gdil must be the length of kdei aniva.

However, I hesitate to apply this ruling here because the Mishna Berura is
talking about an all white string. In the case of a Rambam tekhelet string,
one “half” is blue and the other “half” is white, so it seems that the white
side of the string is not considered the completion of the tekhelet side. If
this is true, then you have invalid tekhelet and fixing it while still tied to
the talit would be considered doing it “lo min ha-asui” (not in it usual way)
and thus forbidden. So really you need to untie the corner, take the strings
out of the talit, tie the blue pieces of string together and then restring them
in to the talit and tie them.

By the way, if it were a Raavad or Tosfot type string where there was blue on
both sides of the hole, then one could apply the ruling of the Mishna Berura
that only one side of the strand needs to have the “kdei aniva” length. That
is, if only one SIDE of one strand was torn (even less than kdei aniva) then
the strand (as a whole) is still considered kosher and so one could adjoin an
extra bit of string to bring it to the l’chathila length (i.e., twice the
length of the gdil). The remedy the Mishna Berura mentions is specifically a
“permanent knot” and so I would advise using a knot and then, if so desired,
applying glue as an extra precaution (but not to depend on the glue).

- Mois Navon.
P.S. a thumbreadth is 2 cm (acc. R. Na’eh) or 2.4 cm (acc. to the Hazon Ish).
“kdei aniva” is two thumbreadths (agudalim) – either 4 cm or 4.8 cm.

Show the Content

Tosafot makes his opinion based on the Mishna (Men. 4:1) which states the
tekhelet does not hinder (m’akev) the white and the white does not hinder the
tekhelet. The mishna goes on to state that the head tefillin does not hinder
the arm tefillin and the arm tefillin does not hinder the head tefillin. The
statement concerning tefillin is understood to mean that if one has only of the
tefillin pieces available, one can say the bracha and fulfill the mitzva of the
component of tefillin by wearing that available piece – i.e., one need not have
both, rather each one is a fulfillment of itself. The basic understanding of
the mishna is that the same logic that applies to tefillin applies to the
mitzva of tzitzit. That is, if one has only white or only tekhelet, the
mitzvah is at least partially fulfilled with the one available component. This
leads Tosafot to hold that just as the head tefillin is equal to the arm
tefillin, so too the tekhelet strings are equal to the white strings – meaning
each should be represented equally in number. As to the question of the
pasuk “and you shall place on the tzitzit of your corner a PTIL tekhelet”,
though the standard translation of “ptil” is “strand” there is support for the
word “ptil” carrying the meaning of “tassel” – i.e., multiple strands.

Regarding the Sifri which states that in fact there should be 2 white and 2
tekhelet strands – the Gra calls this version into question.

- Mois Navon.

I tied my talit at night, and a friend mentioned to me that it is not customary to tie tzitzit at night. I looked quite extensively but did not find this rule in anywhere. Is there a rule like this, and if so, is it maakev?

Your question is addressed by many poskim, quoted comprehensively in Yabia Omer
(Helek 8: Orech Hayim, Siman 3) which I have attached herein. In short, the concern is that one might think that if the tzitzit are tied at night, a time when the mitzvah of tzitzit is not applicable, then they become kosher only the following day at sunrise and they thus became kosher spontaneously and not by an act of tying (i.e., “ta’aseh v’lo min ha’asuy”). This is is roundly
rejected – the most obvious example being the making of a sukkah, which also
must be made in the regular way (i.e., min ha’asuy), yet one is allowed to build
it long before the mitzvah is obligatory during the hag – certainly there is no
difference between building the sukkah before sukkot and tying tzitzit before
the light of day (Shu”t Mahagrash – in Yabia Omer, seif 3; also others in Yabia
Omer, seif 5). In Seif 4, Yabia Omer brings the mahloket as to whether tzitzit
is hovat gavra or hovat mana. For those that hold it is hovat gavra, tying
tzitzit is not a mitzvah per se but rather a “machshir mitzvah” for when the
talit will actually be worn, and thus it can be done at any time. However, for
those that hold that tzitzit is a hovat mana, the mitzvah is to tie them on to
the talit and there could be a concern about when to tie them. As such they are
strict and require that l’chathila one tie in the day. Nevertheless, many
reject this stricture, and indeed the vast majority of halachic opinion sees
absolutely no reason to be strict to not tie them at night.

- Mois Navon

When using a Rambam string which is part blue and part white, how should I align the color change in the talit hole? From the pictures on your site, it seems that you had the part where it changes from white to blue (speckled) going into the hole and full blue coming out. Is this correct?

Correct. When using the Rambam string set (regardless of which method you choose
to tie) the shamash string should be placed in the hole such that one side of the begged
has tekhelet and the other side has white. This is of course in the ideal, however due
to the way the 8 strands of one tzitzit cord are twisted together there will be an area
(as opposed to an exact line) where the color change occurs. As such you should try
to place it such that one side is fully blue and the other side transitioning to white;
however, I like to make sure that the white side is all white by the time the string is
used in the first knot. This because the Rambam himself required that the core strings
should be all white – so technically, he would be satisfied that there is no blue in the
core, but I like to be conservative.
- Mois Navon

If I have 2 pieces of tekhelet string, can I tie them together and use it as one?

If you are starting out (i.e., not fixing a torn string that became less
than “kdei aniva”) you can tie strings together to get the desired initial
length. We do not advise this because if your knot comes out, your tzitzit will
become invalid. This is particularly true if the point of the knot is at the top
by the hole before the actual gdil (knotted section). Furthermore, if the knot
does come out, you will have to untie them completely and retie them because the
halacha of tzitzit requires them to be made in the usual way (min ha’asuy), and
it is not usual to knot strings together after they are tied on to the garment.
- Mois Navon

How do I make double knots?

Double knots are made by taking the 4 strings on the aligned side and wrapping them over
the 4 strings from the non-aligned side – you can see this clearly in my video clip on tying the
Gra.

- Mois Navon.

I am a Baal T'shuvah, with very little Jewish family history. My question regards which tying custom to follow. The one thing I do know is that I wish to follow the Raavad for ratio. I know my family lived in Vienna for a time, which would lead me to the Vilna Gaon, but I'm not sure. My current custom is to tie 7-8-11-13. I was wondering if there was a timeline of when the different customs were written, and which, if any, are considered older than others. Thank you very much.

I would say that if you are inclined to follow the Ravad method in terms of
ratio (1 full blue string per corner) then I would advise you tie like the
Vilna Gaon, as he too holds that one should use 1 full blue string per corner.
As for the oldest methods, it appears that the Gaonim held the oldest
tradition, either R. Amram Gaon (d.875) or R. Shmuel ben Hofni HaGaon (d.
1034). The only difference between the Vilna Gaon’s method and that of Rav
Amram Gaon is the introduction of the 5 knots.

In anycase, though we do try to follow the traditions of our fathers as much as
possible, since tekhelet has been lost for 1300 years, no one has a family
tradition and therefore the field is a bit more open than usual to choose form.

- Mois Navon.

My question is with regard to the meaning of, and/or significance of, each of the different styles of tying.

The symbolic meaning of the tzitzit windings with tekhelet is stated clearly in the
Gemara Menachot by Rebbi: to remind us of the heavens. Similarly does Rebbi Meir
explain that the symbolic meaning of tekhelet is that of God’s throne. And so ALL
the various methods of tying with tekhelet merely try to imbue that singular meaning -
heaven. The reason there are so many methods is not because they all have some
varying intent, but rather due to the varying interpretations of the technical
implementation provided in the Gemara.
This is diametrically opposed to the various methods used for tying with white only.
For once tekhelet, the color of God’s throne, was lost, then new ways of symbolically
imbuing the tzitzit with the reminder of the heavens needed to be introduced. Some
(like the Hida) said the wraps should equal God’s name YKVK (26), others (Arizal)
said they should equal Hashem Echad (39) which also equals the number of wraps
when wrapping with tekhelet.

- Mois Navon.

I would like to re-string my tzitzit using a different method. Can I do this? Also, will the strings be irreparably out of shape?

You can unite your strings and then re-tie them with any method of your choosing. The
only requirement for reuse is that when retied they will make up a length of 12 thumb-
breadths (that is, when the strings were tied, they should not have broken to be less that
12 thumb-breadths).

In order to get the strings straight again so that it will be easier to tie them, I recommend
that you soak them briefly in water (enough to get them totally wet) and then let them
drip dry over a shower curtain rod (or similar device).

- Mois Navon.

1) Is the Rambam with or without a double knot at the top? 2) Is it true that we have archaeological evidence that the halacha for the number of strings follows Tosafos?

1) The Rambam himself does not speak of any double knot – nor does anyone from his
time or earlier. The double knot was introduced by the Tosafot. They reasoned that a
knot should be a knot that is forbidden on Shabbat. However this is not the opinion of
other poskim. When the Gemara talked of a knot for tzitzit – according to Rambam,
Rashi, Raavad, Rav Amram Gaon, and others – the intent was a knot made by wrapping
the shamash around the core strings.

Now, since the “kesher elyon” (the “upper” knot) is a biblical obligation many are
stringent and use a double knot, thus fulfilling the most stringent opinion on the matter
(that is, Tosafot would not consider the single wrap a “knot”, but Rambam would agree
that a double knot is a valid, though unnecessary, knot).

There is a mahloket (legal dispute) as to whether the “upper knot” is the one first tied
closest to the garment edge, or the last one tied at the bottom of the wraps. Due to this,
some are strict and make a double knot at both the top and bottom of all the windings.
That being said, one who wants to follow the Rambam’s words precisely makes no
double knots whatsoever.

2) I am not aware of any archeological evidence supporting any method of tying. To the
best of my knowledge no one has ever found a talit tied with tzitzit (this owing in part to
the bio-degradability of organic fabrics). I have heard that a pair of tefillin according to
R’Tam has been found in an archeological dig.

- Mois Navon.

Why does everyone wear Rambam if they are Ashkenazi. What is the reason why many Rabbis pasken like Rambam over Tosafot?

First of all I am not sure why you believe “everyone” wears Rambam; according to our
sales figures: 25-30% wear Rambam, 73-70% Raavad, and 1-2% Tosafot. (I think
Raavad is the strongest seller partly due to the fact that we ship Raavad as our default).

Now though you are correct in your assumption that for the most part Ashkenazi poskim
hold like Rashi/Tosafot in general, this does not mean that they never poskin like the
Rambam. And in fact there are many who argue (e.g., R. Rabinovitch of Maale Adumim,
R. Dov Lior of Hevron) that when there is no defacto psak (R. Dov Lior used the
expression “ain messoret shel psika”) even Ashkenazim defer to the Rambam.

There are many logical arguments for and against each of the opinions (Rambam,
Raavad, Tosafot), so much so that R. Schachter of YU states that Ashkenazim should go
like Tosafot and Sefaradim like Rambam. That being said, many do find the reasoning of
the Rambam more compelling (see R. Yehuda Rock’s article
http://www.tekhelet.com/pdf/rak.pdf). Furthermore, as explained in R. Rapport’s article
(http://www.tekhelet.com/pdf/ra02.pdf), since we are not 100% sure which is the right
method, the Rambam’s is the most conservative (i.e., avoids possible violation of not
having enough white). And finally, one last explanation may be financial – don’t forget
that Tosafot uses twice as much tekhelet and so the strings cost twice as much per set.

- Mois Navon.

When beginning, as you pull the tzitzit through the hole - do you have to keep the individual tzitzit strings in order so that the tekhelet strand is the first or 4th (blue, white, white, white - as in your diagram) or will any order do? And if, after you finish tying, the order of the tzizit in the hole changes - is that a problem?

Order within the hole is unimportant. There is an idea that the white string
should enter the hole before blue one (this is a lone interpretation on the
Gemara which states that one should start with white and end with white) – but
this is certainly not something which would mitigate the fulfillment of the
mitzvah (i.e, placement order is not maakev).

- Mois Navon.

I need some clarification about the Ra'avad method of tying tekhelet. I saw the film put out by Ptil Tekhelet and I also have the diagram that is on the website that you did. They do not seem to agree. In the film, they show double knots between chulyot and the chulyot are not all the same number of winds. In your diagram, there is one single cord knot between chulyot and all the chulyot have seven winds. Also, in your diagram the second chulya is all white (though you mention that some alternate blue and white). The film show them all alternating. Which one represents the Ra'avad method?

Raavad Knots:
In the film (tying video), we show the Raavad being tied with double knots purely out of
convenience and we do mention there (if I’m not mistaken) that the knot described by
the Raavad is a two-cord twist (like I show in my diagram). Using a double knot is by all
means “kosher” (and considered by many to be a more permanent knot), nevertheless,
purists who would like to fulfill the exact instructions of the Raavad should not use a
double knot, but rather the two-cord twist – see my page “in his own words”
(http://www.tekhelet.com/diagrams/RaavadTyingSource.htm).

Raavad Twists:
The Raavad explains that the second “chulya” (as you go down away from the garment
corner) is not really a chulya at all and as such one can do whatever one likes there. In
his “hasagot” on the Rambam he states that one can use all white or alternating colors;
HOWEVER, in his halachic responsa he states that one should wrap all white (“dak
dak”). Again, see my page “in his own words”
(http://www.tekhelet.com/diagrams/RaavadTyingSource.htm). In the film (tying video),
we used this non-chulya area to demonstrate what a 13-wind chulya would look like
(since the Raavad states that the real chulyot can be made of 7-winds to 13-winds). In
my diagram, I attempt to fulfill the Raavad’s words (both in his hasagot and his
responsa) and thus use only white twists in the non-chulya area. Furthermore, there is a
general concept that the areas between the knots should be of equal dimension, and
therefore my diagram has the non-chulya area using the same number of twists as the real
chulyot (i.e., seven).

- Mois Navon.

My son and I were looking at the Tosafot tying photos from your detailed tying instructions; and forgive me for saying so, but it looks a little sloppy. Is this the way we should expect it to come out, or could it come out looking neater? I'd really like to get the Tosafot tying method, however, some of the other methods are much prettier to look at.

As you saw from the web pictures, the Tosafot tying method comes out the way it is
shown. I am sorry if you don’t find it particularly attractive. If you read the Tosafot
source (see “In his own words” in the tekhelet tying tools page) you will understand that
this is the intended outcome.

Now, some other factors to consider when determining which method you would like to
use to tie are: (1) Beauty (“Noy”) – there is an issue in tzitzit that they should be
aesthetically pleasing; (2) All the various tying methods fulfill the Torah (d’oraita)
requirements for tzitzit. So basically, what I am saying is that you could choose a
different method for tying, while still using the 2 full strings of blue (which is what
Tosafot held).

Another alternative is to tie like Tosafot but to always keep the blue together and the
white together (as opposed to the way it is usually done, where the white and blue strands
are mixed together). What this means is that when you are tying, you take the two blue
halves from one side and hold them together with the two blue halves on the opposite
side of the begged (similarly for the white), and then you begin tying. You can
see pictures of how to tie this method at:

http://www.tekhelet.com/diagrams/IturBlueWhiteMethod/page1.htm

I found this looks really quite nice, and would recommend doing this, if you are
using Tosafot number of strings.

- Mois Navon.

How do you explain the Sefer HaChinuch method? And how can he be talking about tying with tekhelet when he says to tie a knot after 3 chulyot, whereas the Gemara states that one should tie on every chulya? It seems that the Chinuch only intended a method for white.

The Chinuch’s words are most sparing and thus leave quite a lot of room for
interpretation.

Your argument (that the Chinuch is not as we currently explain) is based on the Gemara
(Men. 38b) in which Rava says to knot every chulya – likshor al kol chulya v’chulya.
The fact is that the Gemara is inconclusive as to whether knots are required. The opinion
that knots are required is based on the presumption that without knots one could not
distinguish between the chulyot (i.e., they would be abutted and simply look like many
wraps – see Tosafot [Men. 39a, s.v. lo yifchot]). Based on this, the Rambam, who holds
that indeed all the chulyot are blue, does require a knot on every chulya; in
contradistinction, R. Amram HaGaon, who holds that the chulyot are of alternating color
(white chulya, blue chulya, etc.) determines that there is no need for knots on the chulyot
- and only a knot at the beginning (what he calls “kesher tachton”) and a knot at the end
(what he calls “kesher elyon”) – presumably to hold the wraps in place. (The above
explanation is based on R. Y. Rak’s article in Techumin, see:
http://www.tekhelet.com/pdf/rak.pdf, p.21).

From all this I believe one answer to how the Chinuch (or anyone for that matter) could
have a method without a knot on every chulya is to say that the knot on every chulya is
simply not a requirement and, like R. Amram Gaon, the Chinuch does not hold by the
requirement.

However, there is a way we can explain the Chinuch, and still uphold Rava’s statement.
Returning to the Tosafot, they explain their method by noting the exact language of Rava
when he said “al kol chulya v’chulya” – that is to say on every 2 chulyot (chulya
v’chulya). The Gra then explains that this applies to the minimum amount of 7 chulyot,
but if we went to the maximum amount of 13 chulyot then we would still keep the 5
knots but merely increase the number of chulyot between knots. The Gra then expands
the chulya count to 4-4-4-1 (from Tosafot’s 2-2-2-1). (This explanation of Tosafot and
the Gra is based on R. Tavger’s write-up found at:
http://www.tekhelet.com/diagrams/GraTyingSource.htm). In my humble opinion, the
Chinuch is simply a variation on this theme, expanding to 3-3-3-4 (instead of 4-4-4-1).
One could justify the Chinuch’s method in that there is an issue of keeping the wraps
between the knots as (close to) equal as possible (Rosh, Hil. Tzitzit 15 – see R. Rak p.22,
text of n.108).

You state that the Chinuch is providing the method for tying white – indeed R. Rak also
questions whether the Chinuch’s method is applicable to tekhelet (see R. Rak, n.105).
Nevertheless, if it was only for white, and not for when tekhelet is available, why go to
the trouble of telling us in terms of chulyot, which with white only can not be
recognized? (Of course you may answer “siman de’alma”, a “remembrance”, however,
what kind of a siman or remembrance is there when you can’t see any chulya!) Now this
is a question that has long bothered me, and seems to imply that the Chinuch made some
kind of demarcation on each chulya, either like the Radziner, or perhaps like the R.
Amram Gaon’s knot which has the shamash go through itself. However this is really
squeezing a lot into the words (or lack thereof) of the Chinuch. I will leave it as “tzarich
iyun”.

- Mois Navon

Show the Content

In answer to your question as to the origins of the various tying methods as different from
the Bible, let me be start by saying that the Bible is like a “Cliff Notes” pamphlet of the
Divine transmission to Moses and the Jewish People. The Bible is known as the “written
Torah” which is of necessity accompanied by an “oral Torah”. Attempting to implement
the Bible’s written word at face value is an impossible task because there are so many
details left unwritten. Some more obvious examples of commandments for which there
are little if no details are: tefillin, mezuzah, tzitzit; but list goes on. Those who have tried
to maintain only the written Torah in the past ended up inventing their own “oral Torah”
to fill in the blanks. Such attempts have been doomed to failure, as exemplified by the
Sadducees and Karites.

All the details of the Bible’s commandments are explained in the “oral Torah” of the
Talmud and later commentaries. Now, in the case of tekhelet tzitzit, due to its falling into
disuse because of the loss of the snail dye source, much of the oral tradition for this
mitzvah has been lost. From the various statements in the Talmud (see:
http://www.tekhelet.com/guide.htm), later commentators have grappled with the proper
implementation. That being said, the Talmud states clearly that the Biblical requirement
to fulfill the commandment of tzitzit is one knot and three winds. The rest of the wraps
and knots are Rabbinic in nature, added to enhance the symbolism. The primary symbol
that tzitzit serve is to be a reminder for us that there is a Creator and that we are to
perform His commandments, as stated in the Bible itself (Num 15:39). Toward this aim,
the Talmud adds for example, that we should have between 7 to 13 groupings of winds to
remind us of the 7 heavens (or 7 heavens and the 6 spaces between them). This just one
of the many symbolic elements built into the mitzvah. And so this is how the many
methods of tying came to be today.

- Mois Navon.

Show the Content

Concerning the choices, I have been asked this many times and have detailed the
options on our site: http://www.tekhelet.com/diagrams/TyingFAQ.htm

If you would like a cut to the chase, I recommend Rambam strings tied according
to the Rambam method as handed done by the Teimanim. There is an issue of
aesthetics as one is supposed to have “beautiful tziztit” as part of the
fulfillment of “zeh keli v’anveihu”. There is not really a tradition to speak
of since tekhelet has been lost for 1300 years. All methods are kosher, that
is they all fulfill the d’oraita requirements of a kesher elyon and three
winds; furthermore, all methods fulfill the d’rabannan requirements, according
to the particular posek’s understanding. Regarding the oldest known traditions, they are from R. Natroani (d. 730) [brought by Raavad], R. Amram Gaon (d.875), and R. Shmuel ben Hofni HaGaon (d.1034) [brought by Rambam].
- Mois Navon.

I just received a beautiful new tallit with p'til tekhelet. However, I have a query about the length of the tekhelet strings: Each of the four strings extends approximately 12 inches (30 cm) beyond the white strings. Is this how long they should be? The potential problem, of course, is that they may sometimes drag on the ground. I consulted your very interesting website concerning tying tsitsit with tekhelet. I fear that tying tsitsit, with or without tekhelet, goes well beyond my skill set, never mind my dexterity. But in any case, I did not see any reference to the question of whether the tekhelet strings should extend so far.

You are correct that we provide an ample amount of tekhelet such that much is usually
left as extra, and this indeed can be a problem in that the extra strings drag on the floor.
The remedy is to simply cut the strings to the length of the other strings. Indeed you can
cut all the strings down to size keeping in mind two essential parameters of length: the
total length from the first knot by the edge of the Talit to the ends of the strings must be a
minimum of 12 thumb-breadths, and the hanging untied strings section should ideally be
2/3 of the total, the wrapped and knotted part being 1/3 of the total.

The “1/3, 2/3″ rule is an ideal that was determined by the Gemara (Men. 39a) to make the
tzitzit look aesthetically pleasing (“noy”). So this ruling is d’rabanan (see Mishna Berura
O.H. 11:66). The Mishna Bereura (O.H. 11:69) explains that all opinions concur that
once the tzitzit are so made, this rule does not mitigate the fulfillment of the mitzvah.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to say ones tzitzit are kosher bidieved, when you can fix them
by simply cutting them down to size.

Acc. to Rambam and Rama, l’chathila, the proportion (1/3,2/3) must be maintained (not
necessarily measured to the mm, but an eye-ball approximation). On the other hand,
Hazon Ish and Maharshal hold that as long as the gdil (knotted area) is 4 thumb-breadths,
the anaf (hanging strings) can be 8 or more thumb-breadths (i.e., the proportion need not
be maintained).

Bottom line: it seems it would be advantageous to cut your strings to meet the 1/3,2/3
proportion as there is a certain benefit according to the Rambam and Rama, and the
Hazon Ish and Maharshal are merely providing a leniency without any advantage.

There are those who recommend that one not use metal to cut the strings but rather ones
teeth (or ceramic or plastic scissors) – but it is not forbidden to use metal, nor does the use
of metal invalidate the strings. If you do decide to cut your strings, I personally have
found that when you cut them all to be the exact same length they are not as aesthetically
pleasing as when they are cut with slightly differing, but close, lengths.

- Mois Navon.

My tzitzit are tied according to the standard method used for tying white tzitzit with 5 knots and 7-8-11-13 wraps between knots. Are my tzitzit kosher or pasul?

The 7-8-11-13 method is a custom to be used when using white strings only. This
method is not really dealt with on our website because no one discusses tying like this
with tekhelet. Indeed, R. Shachter believes this method was designed to make up for the
fact that no tekhelet was available.

Furthermore, even if one wants to tie like this, he should really have one white wrap at
the top and one white wrap at the bottom (as shown at the bottom of our tying tools page:
http://www.tekhelet.com/diagrams/TyingDiagramSeriesHomePage.htm). This is of
critical importance because the gemara (Men. 39a) states explicitly that one must start
and end with the color of the kanaf.

Regarding the validity of the tzitzit if one has already tied his tzitzit 7-8-11-13, without
the white wraps at the beginning and end – the question is not a simple one. The gemara
derives the rule that one must start with the color of the kanaf from the pasuk “venatnu al
tzitzit hakanaf” the tzitzit (non-tekhelet strings) are to be like the kanaf. Clearly there is a
derabannan requirement to do it properly, but if the gemara is saying that the requirement
comes from the pasuk, then perhaps this is a d’oraita requirement. After quite a bit of
research, I have found one source which specifically addresses your question: Shita
Mekubetzet (Men. 38a, #3) explains that it is a “mitzvah” to start with white, however
starting with tekhelet does not “me’akev”. So this is a heter, however be aware that this
is a rather “novel” approach to the gemara in which the pshat seems to be talking about
whether one needs to “insert” the white into the hole before the tekhelet or not.

- Mois Navon.

Do you think it would be possible and within the framework of halacha to tie the tzitzit according to Rambam (similar to the Teimani community), however without using the Yemenite knot, but by using a method similar to the Chabad way of separating the chulyot. I've included pics to show you. Thank you for your time and info.

Halachically, your method certainly fulfills the d’oraita requirements of kesher elyon and
one chulya of 3 winds.

As for d’rabannan, however, Rava (Men. 38b) requires a knot on every chulya,
and though not everyone paskin’s like Rava, the Rambam does as he explains in Hil.
Tzitzit 1:7 – wherein he says to “make a knot” at every chulya. And Tosafot seems to
make of this requirement a knot on every set of chulyot (one white and one blue). The
Radzyner explains that the sheeta of the Gra incorporates the knot requirement to be
exactly 5 such that one would make a knot on ever white,blue,white,blue combo.

Now the Radzyner believed that the knotting requirement is for the traditional 5 knots
(See Ptil Tekhelet, 1313-133), and he also maintained the need for the 13 hulyot which
could be accomplished by simple looping (like in your picture). Furthermore, there is an
explanation of Rava’s requirement for a knot on every chulya which states that the knots
are needed in order that one can visually distinguish each chulya (See R. Y. Rock,
http://www.tekhelet.com/pdf/rak.pdf). Now, though your picture does seem to fulfill this
need to see each chulya, I wonder if such chulyot will not eventually all bunch together
since they are not held by a tight knot. Also, though you use the Radzyner loops for
chulyot, you do not have the 5 knots that he would require.

In conclusion, though your tie is biblically “kosher”, it does not fulfill various Rabbinic
requirements, and I am not sure what advantage there is to using it. Let me be clear
here: If you use all blue wraps then you should be able to see each chulya by having
space between them (otherwise you should have intervening white chulyot which would
provide the needed distinction). And even if you say that the Radzyner’s chulyot are not
any more distinguishable, nevertheless he has 5 knots which according to his calculations
based on the Zohar and other writings is sufficient.

- Mois Navon.

I have been using Raavad strings (1 full blue per corner) to tie the Radzyner method, is this kosher? Also, I use which ever blue string comes to hand to make the windings, is this OK?

There is actually nothing halachically “unkosher” about using Raavad strings with the
Radzyner tying method. Many view the two issues as independent, that is, the
determination of how many strings of blue to use is based on certain considerations
versus the determination of how to tie being based on other factors. Of course, there
are those who see the two issues as “intertwined” such that the number of blue strings
and the way to tie reflect a more comprehensive approach.

So the bottom line is that your present tzitziot are 100% kosher, however if you are
trying to follow the Radzyner’s method to the fullest, you should be using the
Rambam set of strings. The Radzyner Rebbi in his book Ptil Tekhelet (pp. 115-124 in
Sifrei HaTekhelet) spends 9 pages discussing the issue. He comes out saying that his
opinion is to hold like the Rambam, however he notes that this is a difficult dispute
and one who followed the sheeta of Raavad or that of Tosafot “wouldn’t lose”.

As for switching sides: ideally you want to have the shamashim marked (tie a knot at
the bottom of the string) and only use those to wrap (i.e., one designated white
shamash, and one designated blue shamash). However this does not mitigate the
fulfillment of the mitzvah (i.e., aino maakev), such that if you picked up different
strings each time to do the wrapping, your tzitziot would still be kosher.

- Mois Navon.

I want to tie tzizit according to the Vilna Gaon with Raavad Techelet. I saw the video on line but my question is with the longer techelet and longer tzizit strings - when you use them as the tying strands they don't equal out at the end meaning the tzizit are all of different lengths. It looks like I'm doing it wrong. Can you guide me further?

What you need to do is take the 4 strings for one corner (2 regular length white, 1 long
white and 1 long blue) and line up one side so that when you hold them between your
thumb and index finger the four lengths are equal (approximately). Then you will notice
that the four ends on hanging down on at the other end are all misaligned.

Now, (say l’shem mitzvat tzitzit and) place the four aligned ends through the whole in
the corner of the talit.

Now pull the four strings through slowly and grab onto the four ends that are on the other
side (i.e, now you should have one hand holding one end of the 4 strings, and one hand
holding the other end on the opposite side of the talit.

(It is best if the talit is lying on a table weighted down by something like a heavy
dictionary).

Now, pull the strings on either end so that you line up the side with the 4 aligned strings
to be even with the TWO white strings on the misaligned strings side.

Now tie a double knot.

You should now have 5 white string ends and 1 blue string end all aligned (more or less)
and have 1 longer white end and 1 longer blue end (which will be your shamashim).

It is now best to tie off the 4 string ends that are not with the shamashim, so this way,
every time you make a double know you always do so with the same ends. (By “tie off”, I
mean the aligned side because that’s the side without the shamashim hanging, and you
need those shamashim to be free to do the wrapping. Tying off means: take the four
string ends and loop them around themselves to make a knot which you later undo – it’s
just a way so that you know which side is which for doing the double knots.)

- Mois Navon.

Regarding the chulyot -even though I'm wrapping 3 times - sometimes it looks like 2 wraps and other times it looks like 4 -what am I doing wrong?

Yes, it is a well known “problem” that due to where the shamash comes out of the
previous double knot, the chulya may be misaligned + or – a half turn. I believe that as
long as you wrap three times you have a kosher hulya – as that is the language of Rebbi in
Menahot when he describe how to make a hulya “wrap once, twice, three times”.
- Mois Navon.

When wearing tzitzit with tekhelet, do the same halachot apply to tekhelet as to white regarding if one string breaks off - e.g. my one tekhelet string (tekhelet per Raavad i.e. 2 out of 8) has fallen off completely after the last knot. If all white strings, I would continue to wear this tzitzit lechatchila. As it is a tekhelet string that has broken off, does this make a difference?

Regarding the specific case of the one full blue string being broken on both sides up to
the knot. The rule for this would be the same as for white (the details are specified in the
Shulchan Aruch O.H. 12). That is: l’chathila one should have all the strings 12 thumb-
breadths, 4 thumb-breadths wrapped (gdil) and 8 thumb-breadths hanging (anaf);
bedi’avad one must have “k’dei aniva – (KA)” (enough to tie a knot) – less than this and
the strings are pasul.

This KA measurement is required for all 4 strings, such that, if you were careful to
always keep the four ends on one side of double knots and the opposing ends on the other
side, so if even all 4 ends on one side were cut to the knot, but on the other side the 4
strings have KA, so the tzitzit are still kosher; but if 1 string on each side of the knot is
cut to the knot, such that one could assume that they are two ends of the same string, then
the tzitzit are pasul. So too, if one was not careful to keep the 4 string ends separate each
time he made a double knot, or the tying method didn’t include double knots, such that
one doesn’t know which string end corresponds to another string end, then the minute
two string ends are less than KA, the tzitzit are pasul.

In your case, there is only one blue string and so it is clear that the two ends correspond
to one and the same string, and since both sides are lacking KA the tzitzit are pasul.
HOWEVER, the Shulchan Aruch (O.H. 12:3) brings two opinions on this issue:
according to Rashi (and this is the general halacha) the KA is measured from the end of
the wrappings (gdil) – i.e., the hanging strings part (anaf) must be KA; nevertheless, he
bring the opinion of the R”Y who holds that we measure the KA from the top knot of gdil
next to the begged and so only require KA of wrappings (gdil) – and, concludes the
Shulchan Aruch, this opinion can be relied upon in an emergency. The Mishna Berura
explains that one should not say a bracha on such a talit and one cannot wear it out in the
reshut harabim on Shabbat.

Two more points:

(1) The issue of broken strings is known as “gardumin” and is discussed in Menachot
38b. One opinion is like that poskined in the Shulhan Aruch (O.H. 12:1), as mentioned,
that all the strings must be a minimum of KA. The opposing opinion expressed in the
Gemara holds that either all the tekhelet must be the full (8 thumb-breadth gdil) length or
the white must be the full length, but if both are cut down, then the tzitzit are pasul. This
more stringent opinion is held by R. Tam in Tosafot and is brought by the Shulchan
Aruch as a stringent opinion that should be followed when possible, however the Rama
himself in fact posikins according to R. Tam l’halacha.

Now the Gemara’s discussion distinguished between tekhelet and white, however the
Shulhan Aruch and Rama apply it to white only by using the proportions that R. Tam
held for tekhelet versus white. That is, he held that there should be two full tekhelet
strings and two full white strings; thus his opinion when applied to all white strings is that
if more than 2 strings are only KA, then the tzitzit is pasul (as opposed to the Shulhan
Aruch who would allow all the strings to be KA).

(2) The issue of how long is KA is also not simple. The Gemara Men. 38b does not
resolve the inquiry. Rosh (7) holds the minimum length to be a d’oraita issue and as such
we must act stringently – in this case use the longer measure proposed by the Gemara of
“tying a slipknot”. Rif and Rambam apparently held the minimum length to be a
d’rabanan issue and as such allow one to act leniently – thus in a case of doubt they
would permit ANY length to be valid – but this not the halacha (B.Y. O.H. 12:1).

- Mois Navon.

I have been wearing tekhelet for about a year now, and I would like to start off by thanking the Ptil Tekhelet Organization for helping to revive this mitzvah. I have a question as to the length of the tekhelet string on the tzitzit. Is it kosher for the tekhelet string (I wear Rambam tekhelet, so there is only 1 string) to be shorter than some of the white strings? If it is not kosher, should the white strings be shortened? Also, I heard that it is only appropriate to bite off strings, not to use scissors or a knife?

1) I am not aware of any white-to-blue relative length considerations. The halacha does
talk about minimum lengths of strings of course (i.e., k’dei aniva), but this applies to all
strings equally. So, in answer to your question, I do not believe there is any need to
shorten your white strings in order to make your tekhelet appear longer.

2) The Mishna Berura notes (Orech Hayim, Siman 11, Seif Katan 61) that one should use
teeth and not a knife. [Note that he does not use the language of "must", so it appears to
me that it is preferable to not use metal, but not an inviolable requirement. That being
said, we employ special ceramic scissors in order to fulfill this recommendation].

- Mois Navon.

Show the Content

Yes there are many, many ties to tie white. Here are a few that are listed in R. Tavger’s book on tzitzit “Klil Tekhelet”:

Tying methods in white:
- Common 7-8-11-13
- Hida 10-5-6-5 (Y-K-V-K)
- Lekach Tov 7-7-7-7
- HaMaspik L’Ovdei Hashem 7 chulyot of 3 winds (like Rambam)
- Meiri Yevamot:
knot
7 (teimani) chulyot
knot
7 (teimani) chulyot
knot
7 (teimani) chulyot
knot
7 or 13 (teimani) chulyot
knot
- Tzfunot
knot
2 (teimani) chulyot
knot
7 (teimani) chulyot
knot
2 (teimani) chulyot
knot
2 (teimani) chulyot
knot
- Beit Yosef 7-9-11-13

- Itur (Hil. Tz. p.69a) brings a method:
knot
7 wraps
knot

- Itur (Hil. Tz. p.69a) brings a method:
7 knots
70 wraps
double knot

- Mois Navon.

Show the Content

When it comes to tying tekhelet, there is no “traditional Ashkenazi way”. Here is how
I would look at the issue:
1 ) If he is using Tosafot strings (i.e., 2 full blue and 2 full white per corner) then he
should tie like Tosafot.
2 ) If he is using Raavad strings (i.e., 1 full blue and 3 full white per corner) then he
should tie like the Gra.
3 ) If he wants to stay as close to the current Ashkenazi method of tying white (i.e., 7-
8-11-13) then he should tie like the Radzyner.

- Mois Navon

Are there other styles of krichot that you have not mentioned on your website?

There are other methods of tying not mentioned on the web site.

- Mois Navon.

What is the length of the actual strings themselves? (because I wear my tzitzit out and our family tradition is that they should come to at least the knee if not lower)

The shamash is 1.5 meters long before tied. The strings after knotting will not reach
your knees.

- Mois Navon.

Thick or regular, what is the difference, and why are there both options?

There is no halachic difference between thick or regular strings (both are “kaful
shemona” eight strands wound together by “shezira”) – the only reason we supply both
is that some people like the way the thick look on their talit (especially the talit gadol)
and others find that the thick last longer since they tend to withstand tugging and
snaring that sometimes tears the thinner strings.

- Mois Navon.