It’s things like this that give me hope for the future…
Speak to the children of Israel and say to them,
they should make themselves tzitzit on the corners of their clothing
throughout their generations,
and give the tzitzit of each corner a thread of blue.
And they shall be tzitzit for you,
and when you look at them you will remember all of the Lord’s commandments
and do them and not follow after your heart
and after your eyes, which lead you astray.
In order to remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God.
This verse comes from The Shema — the holiest prayer in Judaism, which is found in the Torah (The Old Testament).Tzitzit are those funky fringes you see hanging out of religious Jews’ pants. As you can see, the intention of the fringes is so that you look down at them and remember all the commandments in the Torah. “There are 613 mitzvahs [commandments] in the Torah. The numerical value of the word Tzizit is equal to 600, plus the 8 strands, plus the 5 coils. This is a total of 613.” Hence, the tzitzit serve as a symbolic reminder of the commandments.
So there’s a portion of the Sifra (Kedoshim 4:12, thanks MB!) where the rabbis are debating what the point of Torah is. What’s the deal with all these commandments? Where are they supposed to get us? One rabbi pipes up, “B’nai Adam!” We should recognize that all of humanity are the children of Adam! Another chimes in, “B’tselem elokim!” Everyone is created in the image of G-d! And finally the last, “V’ahavta l’rekha kamokha!” Love your brother as yourself!
Hence, what is the point of wearing tzitzit? So that you should remember that all of humanity are the children of Adam, that we are all created in the image of G-d, and that you should love your brother as yourself.
And, considering the current attitude of mainstream Jewry towards the Islamic world (be it justified in some ways or not), who moreso than our brother Ishmael and his descendants, the Arab Muslim people, could truly benefit from our recognition of these klalim gedolim (major themes) of Torah?
One kaffiyeh, one set of tzitzit, a whole lotta thread, and a few drops of blood later, I give you the talit katan kaffiyeh. A Mobius “Sorefinger” original. Because fringes are apparently not enough.
…Oy, the hell I’m gonna catch for this one. I’d wear ‘em out on the street but I’m afraid I might get stabbed.