Men! Question for you!

A few years ago I heard from a male of my acquaintance that he does not wear tzitzit because they make him look fat. Plus he also said there was no need to wear them every day, only when wearing a four cornered garment. It’s a chumra, he said, to wear them daily.

Does it really make that much of a difference?

Please enlighten me.

Signed the mother of 4 proud tzitzit-wearing boychiks.

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  1. curious says:

    As far as I know (which is limited at best) – the only time you have to wear the tzitzit is when you wear a 4 cornered garment. You will notice that most suits that observant jews wear have round corners on the front of the jacket in order not have 4 corners (given there is a slit on the back of the suit). However, I believe most men wear them in order to remind us of the 613 mitzvot – the gematria is the word “tzitzit” has a value of 600 + 5 knots + 8 strings = 613. I don’t know if the gematria truly applies since there are 20 knots and really 16 strings (folded in half in order to make the knots). And yes, the tzitzit makes one look a few pounds heavier.
    The next question to ask and would appreciate a response – do the tzitzit themselves have to exposed or can they be tucked in.

    • I agree with your reasoning. I used to use those excuses, to get out of wearing tzitzit, but I realized that’s just what they were, excuses.

      I believe it’s fine if they’re tucked in, they’re a reminder for you, not for everyone who sees you.

  2. Lady Lock and Load says:

    Maybe some would find the undershirt tzitzis better for a slimmer look. Get one in a small size so it will be more fitted.
    I often wear a shell under my shirt for tznius reasons and I don’t think they make me look fatter.
    I believe that tzitzis can be tucked in. My hubby used to do that but after Sept. 11, he proudly wears them out.

  3. BigPhil says:

    Tosfot on the gemara in Arachin (can’t exactly remember where, but it’s quite early on) talks about how the mitzva of tzitzit is an easy one not to do. Just never wear 4-cornered garments. You’ve done nothing wrong.

    IIRC, Tosfot goes on to say that actually we *should* wear tzitzit as they serve as some sort of protection to us during an “Idan Ritcha”, dangerous times.

    So, there’s apparently no obligation per se, but apparently it’s a good idea to wear them.

    Don’t wish to judge of course, but that’s possibly the most ridiculous reason I’ve heard for not wearing tzitzit. Still, it takes all sorts to make a world!

  4. Mark says:

    I tend to agree that since we don’t wear 4-cornered garments most of the time (other than during tefillat shacharit and mussaf), we don’t have to wear tzitzit. However I think additional reasons for wearing tzitzit have evolved over the years and many wear them as habit nowadays.

    I don’t particularly like wearing tzitzit for a number of reasons, mainly because they bother me, they bunch up, they make me feel warm(er), and they almost always ride up towards my neck.

    Also, a very smart guy once told me that a bracha on them might possibly be a bracha levatala!

    • curious says:

      Again, not the smartest guy (halachically) around. But it is my understanding that if you are putting on a talit for shacarit, you do not say a bracha on the tzitzit. Please correct me if I am wrong.

    • It may be true that it’s not necessary to wear tzitzit, although I’m pretty sure it’s not that simple (like wearing a yarmulka). I also find them uncomfortable but was taught that you get a mitzvah every second that you wear them, it’s a fairly easy way to get mitzvot.

      Also, I doubt you’ll find many rabbonim that agree about it being a bracha levatala.

  5. Offthederech says:

    That is one of the funniest excuses I’ve ever heard for not wearing tzitzis.

    But I believe he’s correct that it’s a chumra. So is wearing a kippa. I wonder how many of our traditions are really mandatory. Anyone?

  6. Offthederech says:

    No question tzitzis are a major pain. I remember I couldn’t have been older than five or six in a pool changing room and a kid from class informed me that I was going to hell not because I wasn’t wearing tzitzis, but because I didn’t have an undershirt underneath them!!!

  7. Mike S says:

    1) There is no chiyuv to wear a 4 cornered garment. But there is a mitzvah kiyumit to wear one with tzitzit.

    2) I think most frum men do. It is an easy mitzvah.

    3) I do find it makes me feel fatter if my shirt is too tight. If I wear a looser shirt, no problem.

    4) However, I do not wear them when I am doing something that will make me get all sweaty, like biking to work. I put them on after I shower at the office. Laundering them is a bit of a pain.

    • Lady Lock and Load says:

      They sell these special tzitzis laundering bags, so you can machine wash without the strings getting tangled.

      • HSaboMilner says:

        they don’t work that well Lady Lock and Load. My dry cleaner does tzitzis for free and they look immaculate.

        • Lady Lock and Load says:

          Mine work great, but maybe that’s because I hang them to dry after laundering.
          They will dryclean them for free, wow! One thing you will miss in Canada. No such thing around here.

  8. murex trunculus says:

    Surprisingly, nobody has brought up this important fact yet: an integral part of the mitzvah of tzitzit is for one of the threads to be dyed with tchelet (ptil tchelet). Unless you have this, you are not fulfilling the mitzvah. All you have is a reminder of the mitzvah – zecher lemitzvah.
    Incidentally: this is why you cannot put modern-day tzitziot (customarily made from wool) on a garment that has linen in it – that would be sha’atnez. The real tzitziot were commonly worn on a linen garment – because a positive mitzvah (tzitzit) cancels out a negative (sha’atnez).

  9. Tuvia says:

    Ok a few things…

    Murex – That is not correct, for SEVERAL reasons.

    1 – You need to look at the text, and it pretty clear. “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, that they shall make themselves fringes on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and they shall put on the corner fringe a tekhelet thread.” Now we know for a fact that the tekhelet was a type of animal, believed to be a snail but we don’t know for sure. If you are not using it from that EXACT species than all you are doing is dying it blue, and its no different than all white. It clearly states in Tosefta that no other blue die is acceptable. How are you dying yours?

    2 – How are you reading thread? We don’t know what was exactly meant by it. Do the mean 1 thread out of the 4 strings, or 1 thread out of the 8 that hang. Are you sure you are doing it right?

    3 – If you continue to read it also says “They shall be to you as tzizit, and you shall look upon them and remember all the commandments of the L-rd and fulfill them, and you will not follow after your heart and after your eyes by which you go astray – so that you may remember and fulfill all My commandments and be holy to your G-d. ” This is a very important verse that says the point of the tzitzit, but yet in this verse it does not mention tekhelet. Even though tekhelet is mentioned 48 times in the Tanach it is left out of this verse. Why?

  10. murex trunculus says:

    Tuvia, I agree wholeheartedly.

    You brought up two separate issues:
    (1) the specific requirements of the mitzvah;
    (2) the point of the mitzvah.

    As you point out, they are both mentioned clearly and explicitly in the Torah.

    Your points 1 & 2 seem to agree that we cannot fulfill (in the literal or “full” sense of that word) the mitzvah today, because we don’t know how to make the dye. That’s exactly what I said.

    As for your 3rd point, no mention needed. That verse says that the aforementioned requirements comprise what will now be dubbed “tzitzit,” and then goes into the point of the mitzvah. It doesn’t mention any of the ingredients again.

    You’ve guessed what creature my money would be on as a source of tchelet — were I a betting man ;-) I am sure you are not!

  11. oh, puh-leeeze. lose weight. do two mitzvahs at once.

  12. There is a biblical command to attach fringes to the corners of four-cornered garments. The garments which sport these fringes, known as tallit and tzitzit serves as constant reminders of our obligations to G-d and our fellows.
    Here some sites you’ll enjoy for you and your friend:
    http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/110306/jewish/Tallit-and-Tzitzit.htm

    http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/530130/jewish/Tzitzit-and-Talit-Video.htm

    Shaliach for the Rebbe,
    RaCh”Yem

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