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What do you do with old ציצית that do not fit anymore? Can you cut off the corners and throw the rest out respectfully?

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Well done community! Two answers and a retag all within one minute! – Double AA Feb 20 '12 at 2:49
up vote 6 down vote accepted

According to the Shulchan Aruch (O"C 21) if the tzitzit are no longer valid, one may dispose of them. The Ram"a adds that one should dispose of them respectfully, but they do not require geniza. The Ram"a then brings down a second opinion that they (the strings) should be put in geniza, and recommends it. Similarly with the article of clothing itself: it may be disposed, but may not be used disrespectfully. The Mishnah Berura (S"K 2) adds that one may invalidate the tzitzit if he wants to dispose of them, but one should not dispose of tzitzit while they are kosher.

(Edit- According to the Mishnah Berura 15:3, one is permitted to remove tzitzit, even in a sense that renders them invalid, if the beged became worn out (or, presumably, it no longer fits and is not usable).)

In your situation, where the article of clothing no longer fits you, you may invalidate the strings and dispose of everything in a respectful manner. If you wish to follow the stringency of the Ram"a, you should put the strings in geniza.

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Are you really allowed to intentionally invalidate tzitzit? This seems very strange. – Ari A Feb 20 '12 at 2:55
I don't see why you can't purposefully untie tzitzit strings from a beged. [Vram: pinging me doesn't work if I haven't been involved yet in this comment thread. fyi] – Double AA Feb 20 '12 at 3:08
See here where he discusses taking them off of a deorayta tallit to put on a derabanan tallit, and other cases. – Double AA Feb 20 '12 at 3:14
But the rama says that's only if the person is going to wear it. Our case where the beged is too small is parallel to the case of the meit which the rama says is fine to take off the tzitzit. – Double AA Feb 20 '12 at 3:24

See my answer here: http://judaism.stackexchange.com/a/12184/759

In short, tzitzit are not fundamentally holy and may be discarded in the trash, although it is proper to treat them with extra respect (ie wrapping it in a bag first or something). This applies to the strings. (Shulchan Aruch 21:1)

As for the beged (piece of clothing): in the standard case where the beged was designated specifically for the mitzva, then the beged can be thrown out normally but should not be used for other especially degrading uses . But if you had a beged that was not specifically for the mitzva but you wore it anyway as clothing, then no restictions would apply to it as it is not designated for the purpose of a mitzva. (Shulchan Aruch 21:2)

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@Vram I think that המחמיר והמדקדק במצוות תבוא עליו ברכה but even he would agree that's not the din. I purposefully tried to leave my definition of 'extra respect' vague to allow people to treat it with as much respect as they find appropriate. It's not a rule; it's a way of showing our appreciation for mitzvot, and that can vary from person to person. – Double AA Feb 20 '12 at 4:31

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