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
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
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
In the Radzyner method, it seemes as if a chulya is made by the looping of the shamash around the wraps included in that particular chulya, yet he seems to maintain that all 13 chulyot are composed of 3 wraps, while he loops around only 9 sets of 3, and other sets of 1 and 2. I understand that this is needed in order to keep the minhag of the 7-8-11-13, but how then does he say that the strings are divided into 13 chulyot of three? Does he? I know that 9 falls between 7 and 13 so it is okay, but it at least seems to me from your words (correct me if I am mistaked) if not from his own words that you do divide 13 sets of 3. If so, how is this accomplished?
Yes, the Radzyner method tries to maintain the 7-8-11-13 while at the same time implementing the 13 chulyot of 3 – since this is physically impossible (due the double knots breaking up the 7-8-11-13), he compromises and configures the chulyot around the double knots to keep the tree wraps of a single chulya. – 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
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
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
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 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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Would it be permissible to apply a drop of super glue to a knot that holds two pieces of string together in order to make one long string?
Yes. R. Dov Lior of Hevron/KiryatArba permits applying glue to the knot. – Mois Navon
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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.