Tying The Tzitzit

December 1st, 2008

If you have noticed, the knot of the tzitzit on the tallit or tallis is very intricate. This is because each part of the tzitzit’s knot has meaning and symbols, all of which make the tzitzit an important part of the Jew’s faith. Remember that the tallit is used every morning for prayer and every Sabbath; surely something that used regularly for praise plays an integral part in the Jewish tradition. Hence, the process of tying the tzitzit is a very exact practice. Many people opt to buy tallit not because it is convenient (after all, creating a tallit or prayer shawl is easy) but because the tzitzit has to be exact.

The tzitzit of the tallit should be made of four strands. In turn, these strands should be made up of eight fine threads. These strands pass through the hole on the tallit. The hole should be about one to two inches away from the tallit’s corner. According to the Talmud, the tzitzit should have an upper knot and a wrapping of hulya or the three winds. The seven to 13 hulyot should be tied, and the person should start and end with the garment’s color. The most popular method in tying the tzitzit involves the four ends of the strands double-knotted to each other. This is repeated five times to make five double knots, each are separated by four sections.

There is a prayer to be said before tying the knot, citing that the deed is done for the sake of fulfilling the commandment of the tzitzit. A number of rabbis, however, say a full prayer should be said instead of just a blessing. The prayer is very similar to prayer said when one wears the tallit.

But why is there such a specific way of tying the tzitzit on the tallit?

This is hardly surprising, considering that the Jews are very specific when it comes to their commandments. Note that even the color of one thread on the tzitzit was mentioned specifically on the Bible, and they followed this directly until they lost the source of this color. Again, the specific details are due to the meaning behind the tzitzit. Each number, each knot pertains to something about the Jewish religion and tradition. This is just fitting; after all, the tzitzit serves as a remembrance of the mitzvah.

For first-timers, it is expected to fail during the first few tries. The process of tying the tzitzit is intricate and somewhat complicated, although it is not entirely impossible. It is always best to practice first before doing it on the actual threads. Practice also guarantees that the individual indeed understands the process. But more than the process, the meaning of the tzitzit is much more important. The tzitzit on the talit is a very sacred and beautiful Jewish icon, a testament to the faith of the Jews. Very few religions have that sort of devotion, making the tzitzit one of the most special religious icon not just in Judaism but arguably in the entire course of history.

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