A Mitzvah with Strings Attached


Hi Rabbi,

I am interested in increasing my Jewish studies and possibly adding some practice as well. Would you tell me about the reason and importance for the strings I see Jews wearing on some of their clothes?




  1. There is a mitzvah to put fringes called tzitzit on the corners of certain garments. This mitzvah has great importance and serves as a constant reminder of the various things God said to do or not to do.

    Perhaps the clearest explanation of its significance is found in a classic text call Sefer Hachinuch, written by a 13th-century Torah scholar who explains the basics of every mitzvah.

    He writes that the root of the commandment is revealed in the verse: “This shall be fringes for you, and when you see them, you will remember all the commandments of God to perform them.” He explains that this mitzvah serves as a terrific reminder, saying: “There is no better reminder in the world than carrying the seal of the Master on the clothes that one wears at all times, as a person is constantly aware of their clothes.”

    Many commentaries liken this mitzvah to a widespread practice throughout many cultures in history. A person who wants to remember something, such as picking up certain groceries on the way home from work, might tie a string on his finger. The string serves to jog the memory and help the person do what needs doing.

    Also, the Midrash says that the numerical value of the word tzitzit is 600. If we add to this number the eight strings and the five knots, we get a total of 613, which alludes to the 613 mitzvahs.

    We are also taught that the mitzvah of tzitzit is commensurate to all the mitzvahs of the Torah, and that a person who is meticulous in observing this mitzvah will merit greeting God’s Divine Presence.

    Best wishes from the AskTheRabbi.org Team