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The Gemara says you have to tie no fewer than 7 chulyos and no more than 13. According to most shitas, 13 is the ideal. My question is, according to the Rambam, can you do whatever you want - 7 or 13?

Do Teimani (Yemenite) Jews who follow the Rambam have a certain custom? From what I've observed, some tie 7, while others tie 13. Is this just personal preference or is it based on varying customs for different parts of Yemen? Is there any difference between the custom for a tallis katan versus a tallis gadol?

BTW, when it comes to techeles, I have seen Ptil Tekhelet tying guides bring both 7 and 13.

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Do you have a source for "According to most shitas, 13 is the ideal"? –  Double AA Jan 8 '12 at 13:25
    
Why 7 or 13? It's actually 7, 9, 11, or 13. Which is what most people actually do today with white only tzizit :) –  avi Jan 11 '12 at 9:17
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I'm not sure we're on the same page. What I was referring to is the kind of Rambam tzitzit shown here (though not necessarily techelet) in this LINK –  Ben - Ben's Tallit Shop Jan 11 '12 at 22:46
    
According to bavli men 39a it's all based on the 7 raki'ot of shamayim. The 13 chuliyot are actually the 7 heavens, each separated by a chuliyah (6) making a total of 13. –  user2359 Feb 6 '13 at 20:10
    
@Ben-Ben'sTallitShop, regarding the link to your site, first of all, why do you call them Tzitzits (with an 's' at the end), and second, what do you mean by differentiating "Yemenite Tzitzit" from "Yemenite Tallit Katan"? –  Seth J Feb 6 '13 at 20:57
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3 Answers 3

I forwarded your questions, concerning the practice of Yemenite Jews who follow the Rambam, to R. Ratzon Arusi, through the Netzach Yisra'el website, and got the following answers( in "מספר החוליות בציצית"):

  1. They tie either seven or thirteen Chuliyot.( He did not elaborate as to whether this depended on personal preference, local custom, or anything else. I can only guess he meant the former.)
  2. They didn't use to wear a Talit Ketanah, only elders and Meyuchadim did.( He side-stepped the actual question regarding any difference between the two types of Talit.)

It might be worth mentioning, that R. Yitzchaq Ratzabi is reported to have said( according to "האם יש עניין לנשק את הציציות דוקא בקשרים, וכמה חוליות וקשרים עושים בציצית") that traditionally Yemenite Jews only ever tied seven Chuliyot, and that tying thirteen is a new custom done either through ignorance or through following the "sect"( probably referring to the Dor Daim). He even brings R. Avraham ben ha-Rambam who says, in Sefer ha-Maspiq le-Ovdei ha-Shem( in ch. 34, Pereq Al ha-Tzitzit, p. 272 in the Nissim Dana edition), that the common custom is to tie seven Chuliyot, and that there is no need to deviate from it as it is a Mitzvah Min ha-Muvchar( the most preferable way of performing the commandment).

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YYohanai, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for doing and sharing this research! I hope to see you around on the site, perhaps amongst our 91 other rambam questions or our 87 other tzitzis questions. –  Isaac Moses Oct 8 '13 at 15:06
    
@YYohanai, The Temanim did not wear a tallit katan as they wore the tallit gadol for the whole day. –  Noach mi Frankfurt Jun 10 at 19:45
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From www.tallit-shop.com :

Among Yemenite Jews who follow the Baladi tradition, the tzitzit on a Yemenite tallit are tied according to the Rambam, with seven “joints” not separated by any knots.

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...you realize that the OP is the owner of that website, right? –  Charles Koppelman Oct 8 '13 at 19:08
    
@CharlesKoppelman Strange, isn't it? –  WAF Oct 8 '13 at 21:14
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@CharlesKoppelman and WAF - I am, indeed, the owner. We tie a lot of Rambam, usually 7 chulyoth. The quotation you cited was based on a Yemenite Yid down the street, who did not sound so authoritative, so I wrote that, but I'm not sure it's accurate. –  Ben - Ben's Tallit Shop Dec 9 '13 at 12:03
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It is a machloket recorded in the Holy Zohar regarding this. The opinion that says seven refers to the seven raki'ot of the shamayim, and the opinion that says thirteen says that is because of the thirteen attributes of mercy.

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I highly doubt that traditional Teimani practice is based on this machloket in the zohar. –  Double AA Jun 8 '12 at 16:33
    
Can you cite the location in the Zohar? –  Double AA Feb 6 '13 at 22:26
    
It's in Shlach, IIRC. –  Adam Mosheh Feb 10 '13 at 5:28
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