Tzitzit made of kilayim?

The mitz­vah of tying tzitzit is writ­ten in the torah and com­mands bnei yis­roel for eter­nal gen­er­a­tions to see these tzitzit and thereby remem­ber all of the mitzvot that hashem com­manded us — not to veer and stray after our eyes and hearts to work for foriegn diety’s, — aka ‘avo­dah zarah’ — but to remem­ber hashem’s mitzvot and actively do them;

דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם: וְעָשׂוּ לָהֶם צִיצִת עַל כַּנְפֵי בִגְדֵיהֶם לְדֹרֹתָם, וְנָתְנוּ עַל צִיצִת הַכָּנָף פְּתִיל תְּכֵלֶת: וְהָיָה לָכֶם לְצִיצִת וּרְאִיתֶם אֹתוֹ, וּזְכַרְתֶּם אֶת כָּל מִצְוֹת ה’, וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם וְלֹא תָתוּרוּ אַחֲרֵי לְבַבְכֶם וְאַחֲרֵי עֵינֵיכֶם, אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם זֹנִים אַחֲרֵיהֶם.

In chu­mash dvarim the mitz­vah is repeated for a sec­ond and final time; “לֹא תִלְבַּשׁ שַׁעַטְנֵז צֶמֶר וּפִשְׁתִּים יַחְדָּו, גְּדִלִים תַּעֲשֶׂה לָּךְ עַל אַרְבַּע כַּנְפוֹת כְּסוּתְךָ אֲשֶׁר תְּכַסֶּה בָּהּ” trans­lated “you should not wear shat­nez — wool and linen together, strands you should make for your­self on the four cor­ners of your gar­ment that you cloth your­self with”. In line with simuchin (find­ing par­ralels between mitzvot writ­ten next to each other) Tar­gum yonatan explains “ ‘ברם לאצטולי כיתן חוטי ציציית מן עמר תהון מרשן למעבד לכון על ארבע כנפי גולייתכון דתתעטפון בה ביממא”, “..but with a shawl of linen you are per­mit­ted to place tzitzith of wool on its four cor­ners of that gar­ment that you wrap with dur­ing the day”. Like­wise, Rashi explains the words גדילים תעשה לך –אף מן הכלאים; you may make those gdil­lim (strands) using kilayim (i.e. wool and linen), this “per­mit” is actu­ally writ­ten in the tal­mud (see nazir 42a).

Thus, per­mis­sion is granted to “trans­gress” the usu­ally strict pro­hi­bi­tion of kilayim i.e. shat­nez and make one’s tzitzit using that actual for­mula; a linen shawl (comfy dur­ing those hot sum­mer mon­thes) with strings of wool (col­ored with תכלת of course1)1). Granted this isn’t a for­mula to cre­ate an actual gar­ment or even indi­vid­ual string woven of wool and linen together — but non­the­less close enough to real shat­nez (espe­cially if tying the tzitzit with a dou­ble knot as we will explain below).

Not only per­mit­ted but encour­aged?

תכלת עם פשתיםPlau­si­bly, the word­ing of the torah גדילים תעשה לך imply an assertive tone to this pos­si­tive mitz­vah; cou­ple this affir­ma­tive word­ing with the סימוכין — the neigh­bor­ing words — of the pro­hi­bi­tion of kilayim, leads to the drush of chazal that tzitzit may (and even should) over­ride kilayim — is this a for­mula for kosher kilayim?.

Indeed, the zohar haka­dosh (vol. 3 p. 86b) intro­duces an inter­est­ing con­cept where it is under­stood that one’s tzitzit should be crafted in this man­ner of using a linen tal­lit with both wool and linen strings affixed, let’s see;

בציצית אמאי שרי? הא אוקמוה. אבל התם הוא ההוא לבושא בתקונוי באשלמות עובדא כדקא חזי.. אימתי שרייא? בשעתא דאיהו באשלמותא דכתיב (דָּרְשָׁה צֶמֶר וּפִשְׁתִּים) וַתַּעַשׂ בְּחֵפֶץ כַּפֶּיהָ. וציצית הא אוקימנא דהתם בההוא כללא דשלימותא אשתכח ולא עביד מידי

Con­cern­ing tzitzit, why is it per­mit­ted? it has been dis­cussed. But there, it is that gar­ment in its com­plete state as is befit­ting for it ..when is it per­mit­ted? at the time when he is in a whole­some state at is writ­ten ותעש בחפץ כפיה, in regards to tzitzit we have estab­lished that it is in a state of whole­some­ness and com­plete­ness and he does (trangsresses) noth­ing.

These words are very vague with­out the expla­na­tive word­ing of Rabbi Men­achem Azarya of Fano (מאמרי הרמ“ע מפאנו ח“ג, מאמר צבאות ה’ חלק ו, ד’ לו);

In the zohar it is evi­dent that — in the womb of their mother chava — kayin and hevel where kilayim one with another and thus had no suc­cess (with each other). Whereas we, by way of using kilayim in tzitzit, purify the ser­vants of the sphere of kayin so that they may serve the befit­ting ones of the sphere of hevel, as per the inner mean­ing of the verse ורב יעבוד צעיר –the gema­tria of 671, as all is for the sake of bet­ter­ment of the shichina and her honor

The mal­bim under­stood Rabbi Menachem’s dis­course as imply­ing that this is indeed the intrin­sic mean­ing of tzitzit — i.e. to bring closer those who are of the sphere of kayin up a notch and into kedusha — in a kosher man­ner of course, which is accom­plished through this great mitz­vah of tzitzit.2)2


Chazal, Geonim and poskim

This has all been said kabal­i­cally speak­ing, what about chazal, geonim and poskim, do they agree?

The gmara quotes the drush of simuchin that tzitzit should be fash­ioned using wool and linen — appar­ently this for­mula is only applic­a­ble where authen­tic תכלת is in fact present. Along these lines is an inter­est­ing dis­cus­sion in sefer agu­dah;

Research is need to deter­mine the halacha regard­ing if one has two strands of white linen and two strands of white wool, as to whether he is per­mit­ted to affix those to a tal­lit of of linen or of wool; as per­haps affix­ing two strands of white is per­mit­ted only when תכלת is avail­able, or — on the flip side — there is no actual dif­fer­ence since it is per­mit­ted to affix the two strands of linen to a tal­lit of wool even though the two strands of תכלת don’t make it kalyim

Rabbi Alexan­dri HaKo­hen con­cludes;

For this rea­son we put tzitzit of silk on a tal­lit of silk since per­haps the mean­ing of the tal­mu­dic pas­sage “wool and linen exempt of their kind and of not of their kind” mean only when תכלת is present

But, the Rabbi con­tin­ues by quote of R“y Baal HaTos­fot;

תכלת does not cre­ate an issue of kilayim”, the R“y explains that to mean both dring the day and by night, both to a man and a woman it is okay to donn a tal­lit of kilayim — since scrip­ture per­mit­ted it, and the enac­tion for­bid­ding it due to don­ning at night3)4 is applic­a­ble only to a gar­ment used exclu­sively for night-time

A noted posek, Mahar“i Abuhav explains in his glosses to shulchan aruch that it is indeed per­mit­ted to wear tzi­tizt at night and — when תכלת is avail­able — even if they con­tain kilayim, as since this spe­cific tal­lit car­ries תכלת in a halachi­cally per­mit­ted man­ner and the tal­lit is cre­ated for per­sonal use as a gar­ment thus any­time he wishes to don it he may, thus Mahari Abuhav under­stands the tal­muds relay­ing how Rav Yehuda would place תכלת on the “parzuma” of his house­hold mem­bers, where the mean­ing of “parzuma” is in fact a tal­lit of linen.4)5

There are those that add that בית שמאי’s con­cern that תכלת should not be place on a סדין (a sheet) is that the סדין is in fact a gar­ment cre­ated for exclu­sive night-time use, whereas Rabbenu Eliyahu of Paris would place tzitzit on his סדין since it is used dur­ing the morn­ing as well (see הגהות מיימוניות to tzitzit 3 7–8), whereas a סדין cre­ated for exclu­sive night-time use but not to one that is used dur­ing the day­time. Addi­tion­ally, per­haps this was the intent of the חכמים as per the writ­ings of Rabbi Shmuel ben Chofni gaon, in his trea­tise on tzitzit.

One may query, why shouldnt the pos­i­tive mitz­vah of tzitzit over­ride that of kilayim which is a neg­a­tive mitz­vah not pun­ish­able by כרת? the response is that this is indeed true only when there is a mitz­vah of tzitzit ..but night-time absolves the mitz­vah and thus at that time it would be deemed kilayim


טלית משוטנז
The tzitzit are tied with תכלת dyed wool strings while the linen strings are left with their nat­ural white color.

The famed mal­bim also wrote a lengthy trea­tise on hil­chot tzitzit and argues there that tzitzit fall under a dif­fer­ent cat­e­gory then bigdei kehuna, since the torah says גדילים תעשה לך which is essen­tially a super­fulous verse since the mitz­vah had been prior stated (in vayikra; אֶת חֻקֹּתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ בְּהֶמְתְּךָ לֹא תַרְבִּיעַ כִּלְאַיִם שָׂדְךָ לֹא תִזְרַע כִּלְאָיִם וּבֶגֶד כִּלְאַיִם שַׁעַטְנֵז לֹא יַעֲלֶה עָלֶיךָ), this extra  verse comes to teach that kilayim is entirely per­mit­ted with tzitzit, thus the law of tzitzit is dif­fer­ent then that tosafist opin­ion (men­a­chot that in regards to bigdei kehuna, the pro­hib­tion of shat­nez is merely דחוייה — pushed aside — and not הותרה — entirely per­mit­ted —  whereas accord­ing to the school of Rabbi Yish­mael there is no need to have that סימוכין drush to per­mit kilayim by tzitzit since the torah explic­itly writes על כנפי בגדיהם and the gen­er­a­tion of יציאת מצרים (the exo­dus) all com­monly wore gar­ments of linen (duh, like who would wear wool in the sinai sum­mer), and every­one agrees that תכלת is affixed exclu­sively to wool.

Thus — con­tin­ues the mal­bim, with­out the סימוכין we’d give the kilayim per­mit with tzitzit a mere דחויה sta­tus, but with that סימוכין (which isn’t needed as men­tioned above), we infer that the kilayim per­mit is הותרה — thereby entirely def­i­nite.



Is this real klayim any­way?

Another inter­est­ing spin on the topic is whether this is in fact real kilayim in terms of wear­ing a gar­ment that is woven from wool and linen, since here the actual tal­lit is pure linen while only some of its strings are wool –and those strings can be eas­ily untied at will.  All the moreso if they are tied with only one knot (by sur­prise, tying a linen string with a wool string cre­ates a firm knot even with one knot — appa­rantly the wool has barbs that “stick” to the linen and hold it in place).


For the mitzvah’s sake

For those seek­ing to ful­fil the mitz­vah of tzitzit on its intrin­sic level as dis­cussed in this arti­cle, the תכלת used today has recieved wide acclaim as being the gen­uine תכלת the torah writed about. So, for those bold jews out there who want to get out there with this tzitzit for­mula, proven com­fort can be drawn from Rav Adda bar Ahva’s quote of Rabbi Yossi regard­ing one who per­forms a ברית מילה on an infant on shab­bos (when it is a safek); “אפילו דבר שאין בעשייתן מצוה הואיל וטועה בו לשם מצוה פטור” - even with an act that in its doing is not in fact a mitz­vah, if one does it for the intent of doing a mitz­vah he is exempt,5)6 that at least takes care of the heav­enly pun­ish­ment aspect ח“ו for those going it alone, but in regards to see­ing this for­mula imple­mented main­stream? this may take a gen­er­a­tion or more.


And, what’s this got to do with kohanim?

As per sifrei kab­bala, there is alot said about kohanim hail­ing from the sphere of chesed/hevel, while the rest of shevet levi — the levi’im — hail­ing from the polar-opposite of gvurah/kayin, whereas in the future era, this will reverse with the kohanim being upgraded to גבורות ממותקות while the levi’im will be upgraded to chesed, in any event, the uni­fi­ca­tion of both spheres — in a kosher man­ner — is indeed a grand spir­i­tual achieve­ment with defin­i­tively revealed pos­i­tive effects in this and all worlds. 










References   [ + ]

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One thought on “Tzitzit made of kilayim?”

  1. Maybe it’s a bit off the sub­ject, but I’m very curi­ous about how the tzitzit were tied in that last photo. Looks like seven Ram­bam chu­lyot sep­a­rated by dou­ble knots. I know at least a half dozen techelet tying shi­tas, but that one is new to me. Who is it based on?

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