I and a number of other women whom I know have been asked if we could help tie Tzitzis to Tallis Katans for the sake of sending them to soldiers on the front. They say they are in desperate need of people to tie it, and if we don’t do it won’t get done. I’m just wondering if it is even valid for a woman to tie Tzitzis as we are not obligated?
While women should not initially tie Tzitzis to a Tallis Katan, the Tzitzis is kosher Bedieved if this was done Lishma, and may even initially be done in a time of need, such as for the purpose of providing kosher Tzitzis for soldiers on the front. The women are to explicitly state prior to their time that they are doing so for the sake of the mitzvah of Tzitzis. Also, such Tzitzis may not be sold on the public market and may only be donated to the soldiers for the sake of strengthening the mitzvah.
There is a dispute amongst the Rishonim and Poskim as to whether women are valid to tie Tzitzis to the corners of a Tallis. One of the main basis of the dispute is in regards to whether an individual must be obligated in a mitzvah in order to validate it. Some Poskim rule that women are valid to tie the Tzitzis to the corners as women [and children] are included within the term Bnei Yisrael that is mentioned in the verse regarding Tzitzis. Other Poskim however rule that women and children are invalid to tie the Tzitzis to the corners as the tying must be done by a person that is obligated in the Mitzvah. This is similar to the rule regarding Tefillin; that women are invalid to write Tefillin scrolls being that they are not obligated to wear them, as written in 39:1. The same would apply by Tzitzis, that since women are not obligated to wear Tzitzis therefore they are invalid to tie Tzitzis to the Tallis. Alternatively, the reason women are invalid is because they are excluded by the words of the verse “Bnei Yisrael” and not Bnos Yisrael. This [invalidation] applies even if an adult male Jew supervises them during the actual tying and tells them to tie the Tzitzis for the sake of the Mitzvah. Practically, we rule like the first opinion that they are valid, although it is best to initially be stringent like the latter opinion. Therefore, one is to avoid having women and children tie the Tzitzis to the Tallis. However, in the event that a woman or child did so, the Tzitzis is deemed valid if it was done Lishma. A blessing may be recited over it. A woman is believed to say that she verbally recited that she is doing it for the sake of the Mitzvah, even if she was not supervised.
Sources: See Admur 14:2; M”B 11:7; 14:5; Kaf Hachaim 14:4; Piskeiy Teshuvos 14 footnote 10 Poskim who rule that women and children are valid to tie the Tzitzis to the corners: First and Stam opinion in Admur ibid; Michaber 14:1; Tosafus Menachos 42a; Rosh Tzitzis 13 Poskim who rule that women and children are invalid to tie the Tzitzis to the corners: Second opinion in Admur ibid; Rama 14:1; Hagahos Maimanis in name of Maharam; Rabbeinu Tam in Gittin 45b, brought in Taz 14:1 regarding women; M”A 14:3 and Admur add the same applies to children.