The purpose of the Mitzvah

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The purpose of the Mitzvah:

The purpose of the Mitzvah of Tzitzis is stated explicitly in the verse [1] “And you will see it and remember all the Mitzvos of Hashem, and you will do them, and you will not stray after your hearts and your eyes”. The Tzitzis serve as a constant reminder of the Mitzvos of Hashem. Upon seeing the Tzitzis one is reminded of the Mitzvos of Hashem and consequently fulfills them. This also helps a person avoid the temptation of sin that is aroused through the eyes and heart, as written explicitly in the verse above.

How the Tzitzis remind one of the Mitzvos:[2] A certain individual was warned by a friend regarding a certain matter. The individual went ahead and made a knot around his belt area in order so he constantly remembers the warning. The knots of the Tzitzis serve a similar purpose; to remind us of the Mitzvos of Hashem at all moments. It is for this reason that the Tzitzis contains five knots, as they correspond to the five books of the Torah. We tie the Tzitzis to every corner in order so whatever corner we turn to, we will remember the Mitzvos.[3] Likewise, the Tzitzis themselves represent the number 613 which corresponds to the 613 Mitzvos, as when the five knots are added to the 8 strings and to the Gematria of 600 of the word Tzitzis, it equals 613, hence helping one remember all the Mitzvos.[4] [Likewise, the ל”ב/32 strings of the Tzitzis correspond to the first and last letter of the Torah, as the first letter of the Torah begins with a Beis and the last letter of the Torah ends with a Lamed.[5]]


The greatness of the Mitzvah

Weighs against all Mitzvos:[6]

The Mitzvah of Tzitzis is so great that it weighs against all the other Mitzvos in the Torah.[7] Thus, anyone who fulfills the Mitzvah of Tzitzis is considered as if he had fulfilled all the Mitzvos of the Torah.[8] It is for this reason that Moshe Rabbeinu could not swear the Jewish people with the wording “keep all the Mitzvos” as it could be interpreted as referring to only the Mitzvah of Tzitzis.[9] Although idol worship also weighs against all the other Mitzvos, nevertheless people commonly understand this wording to refer specifically to Tzitzis.[10]


Guards one from sin:[11]

The Mitzvah of Tzitzis is unique amongst all the Mitzvos in that it has a Segula to save a person from sin[12], as related in the Gemara in Menachos. The Gemara in Menachos[13] relates the following fascinating story:

There is not even a light Mitzvah in the Torah which does not have a reward in this world and the next world. Go and learn from the incident that occurred to a certain individual and the Mitzvah of Tzitzis. There was once a Jew that was very scrupulous in the Mitzvah of Tzitzis. He heard that there is a harlot on a certain island that takes 400 gold coins as her wage. He sent her the 400 gold coins and set up a time to meet with her. When the set time arrived he came and sat by the entrance of her home. The maidservant came out [and saw him, and then told her master] “The man who sent you 400 gold coins has arrived and is sitting by the threshold of the entrance.” She told him to enter, and he entered. She prepared for him seven beds; six of silver and one of gold [one higher than the other in the form of bunk beds]. Between each bed there was a silver ladder, with exception to the ladder that reached the top bed, which was made of gold. She sat on the seventh bed unclothed. He proceeded to ascend the ladders unclothed, and sat opposite her. His four Tzitzis began to [miraculously[14]] hit him on the face and he [changed his mind], descended [from the beds] and sat on the ground. She also proceeded to descend and sit on the ground. She said to him “In the name Gapah, [the king[15]] of Rome, [I swear[16]] that I will not leave you until you tell me what blemish you see on me?” He said to her “I agree that I have not seen a beautiful woman as you, however there is one Mitzvah that Hashem our G-d has commanded us and its name is Tzitzis. Regarding this command the verse states “I am Hashem your G-d” twice; one time to teach us that He is the one that will punish in the future, and one time to teach us that He is the one that will reward in the future. Now, the [four sets of strings] appeared to me like four witnesses [and prevented me from sinning].” She then said to him “I will not leave you until you tell me your name, the name of your city and the name of the Yeshiva that you learn Torah in.” He proceeded to hand her a letter [with all the requested information, and then parted from her]. This woman got up [to travel to the Yeshiva in order to convert, and prior to traveling she] distributed a third of her wealth to the kingdom [so they permit her to convert[17]], a third to paupers, and a third she took with her. In addition, she took with her the bedding of the seven beds from the above incident. She arrived at the Beis Midrash of [a certain[18]] Rebbe Chiyah and told him “Command me [the laws] and make me a convert.” He said to her “My daughter, perhaps you have [come to convert] due to your desire to marry one of my students?” She proceeded to remove the letter [that she had received from the student, and told the Rabbi the entire miraculous story[19]]. He then said to her “Go acquire what you had purchased.” Those beddings that she had offered [the student in a forbidden fashion] she now offered them to him in a permitted fashion [i.e. she married him]. This is the reward that one receives in this world [i.e. the man married her, received a third of her wealth, and the gold and silver bedding].


Surrounded by Mitzvos:[20]

Rebbe Eliezer Ben Yaakov stated: Whoever has Tefillin on his head and Tefillin on his arm and Tzitzis on his garment, and a Mezuzah on his door is guaranteed not to sin, as the verse states “Vehachut Hameshulash Lo Bemiheira Yinatek” as well as the verse states “The angel of Hashem rests around those who fear Him, and it save him from sin”.


The jealousy of the angel Michael:[21]

The Baal Shem Tov stated that even the angel Michael, which is the greatest of the angels, would give up all of his Divine service and experience of G-dliness for the sake of fulfilling even one Mitzvah of Tzitzis from amongst the four Tzitzis that every Jew wears.


The Mitzvah of Tzitzis according to Kabala:[22]

The garment versus the fringes:

The garment of the Tallis corresponds to the level of Sovev Kol Almin. Just as the Tallis encompasses one’s body, similarly it draws down a Divine light that encompasses the person’s soul, without penetrating into his distinct traits and personality. The fringes on the other hand, correspond to the 32 paths of wisdom, which represents the level of Mimalei Kol Almin. The fringes of the Tallis are the sublime level of Saaros/Hairs which draw Elokus from above Seder Hishtalshlus, from the level of Erech Anpin. It is for this reason that it states the Tzitzis are to be “Haknaf Min Knaf”. The term Knaf refers to the garment which is the level of Sovev and the Tzitzis draw down Elokus from this level of Sovev. The fringes are thus called “Min Knaf” “Similar to the Knaf” as they draw down the Elokus of Sovev, which is above Hishtalshlus, into Seder Hishtalshlus in an internal way.


The colors of the fringes-White versus Techeiles:

The reason why the Tzitzis are white is because they represent the level of “Rav Chesed”, Chesed that is above Atzilus. The Techeiles of the Tzitzis represents the level of Makifim, which blind the eyes of the Kelipa and draws fear of Heaven. It is the most powerful form of Makifim. This is because this Makif comes from the level of Malchus and descends to the worlds of Biyah to prevent the nurture of the Kelipos from the G-dliness found in those levels. The spiritual effect of Techeiles assists a person in fulfilling the verse of “Lo Sasuru”, not to stray after one’s heart or eyes.


The four sets of strings:

The four sets of Tzitzis found on the four corners represent four distinct spiritual effects. The two sets of Tzitzis found by one’s back represent love and fear of G-d. The left fringe draws fear of Heaven to one’s soul while the right fringe draws love of G-d to one’s soul. The two sets of Tzitzis found by one’s front side are there to draw down the effects of the back Tzitzis into one’s heart. The two back Tzitzis draw down love and fear which is above comprehension, while the two front Tzitzis draw this love and fear into one’s realm of intellect and comprehension.


[1] Bamidbar 15/39; brought in 11/27

[2] 24/1; Tur 24; Michaber 24/1

[3] Admur ibid; Michaber ibid; Tur ibid

[4] 11/27; Michaber 11/14

[5] Chayeh Avraham in name of Tashbatz 261; Kaf Hachaim 8/63

[6] Gemara Nedarim 25a; Shavuos 29a; Menachos 43b

[7] Gemaras ibid; This is learned from the verse which states “And you shall remember all the Mitzvos of Hashem” regarding looking at the Tzitzis. [Rashi ibid] Likewise the Tzitzis correspond to 613, as explained above. [Kaf hachaim 8/31

[8] Sifri Shelach 15/39; Pardeis of Rashi Hilchos Tzitzis; Shivlei Haleket

[9] Nedarim ibid; Shavuos ibid

[10] Tosafus Shavuos ibid “Mitzvas Tzitzis”

[11] Elya Raba 24/4; Shaareiy Teshuvah 24/4; M”B 24/5; Kaf Hachaim 24/25

[12] Although in general we say that Mitzvos do not save one from the Yetzer Hara, nevertheless the Mitzvah of Tzitzis has ability to do so. [Elya Raba ibid]

[13] Menachos 44a

[14] Rashi ibid; Iyun Yaakov ibid

[15] Rashi ibid

[16] Rashi ibid

[17] Rashi ibid

[18] Tosafus ibid

[19] Rashi ibid

[20] Menachos 43b

[21] Sefer Hasichos 1988 p. 308

[22] Likkutei Torah Korach “Vayikach Korach” page 104


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