What are Tzitzit?

Tzitzit is the Hebrew word for fringes. In the Jewish world, Tzitzit refers to the tassels worn by observant Jews. It is a positive commandment for Jewish males to wear Tzitzit. They are worn under one’s garments. The Tzitzit are comprised of a cotton or wool rectangle with at least sixteen inches in length and width with a hole in the centre through which one places one’s head in order to don the Tzitzit. On each of the four corners of the rectangle are tassels that have been specially spun.

What is the source for wearing Tzitzit?

The source is in the Pentateuch, in the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy.

“Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: They shall make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garmentsג€¦ And this shall be tzitzit for you, and when you see it, you will remember all the commandments of G-d, and perform them” (Numbers 15:38-39). “You shall make for yourselves twisted threads on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself.” (Deuteronomy 22:12).

When are the Tzitzit worn?

It is customary to educate boys from the age of three to wear Tzitzit. From then onwards, the Tzitzit are worn every day, throughout the day. As the source in the book of Numbers speaks of, “when you see it,” (“it” referring to Tzitzit), Tzitzit are not worn at night. The idea of wearing Tzitzit is to see them (by light of day only, not artificial light) and thereby remember G-d, His love and His commandments. The blessing over the Tzitzit may therefore not be recited at night. Some men do wear Tzitzit at night as there are mystical sources that maintain that this is correct.

How does one don the Tzitzit?

One recites the following blessing:

Blessed are you, L rd our G d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us concerning the positive commandment of tzitzit.

Following the blessing one puts on the Tzitzit.

What do the Tzitzit symbolize?

  • Letters in Hebrew have numerical values. The numerical value of the Hebrew word Tzitzit is six-hundred. The garment itself is comprised of eight strings and there are five knots on each tassel. This gives a sum total of 613 which is the total number of commandments in the Torah. Thus, Tzitzit are a physical representation of all of G-d’s commandments
  • The first three groups of windings of the Tzitzit add up to twenty-six which is equal to the numerical value of a name of G-d. The last group’s windings add up to thirteen which equals the Hebrew word for “one”- “Echad”. Thus the Tzitzit also symbolize that G-d is One. Purchasing Tzitzit
  • It is written in the book of Exodus, “This is my G-d and I will beautify Him”. This is the source for performing commandments in the best, most beautiful way possible. The commandment of Tzitzit is no exception and care should be taken to buy good quality Tzitzit from a trusty and G-d-fearing source, whether in one’s local Judaica store of from one of the many online Judaica stores