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When we don the טלית גדול, we say:

ברוך אתה ה׳ אלקינו מלך העולם אשר קדשנו במצותיו וצונו להתעטף בציצית.‏

I'm wondering about the meaning of the last word of the benediction. (Not midrash-like interpretations of it, but what it simply signifies.) Here are what I see as some possibilities:

  1. The prefix 'ב־' means "by means of", indicating the tool used to do the action of wrapping oneself. (Compare 'מכה בפטיש'.)
  2. The prefix 'ב־' means "in", indicating the wrapping in which one's wrapping himself.

And then, seemingly independently of the above:

  1. 'ציצית' refers synecdochically to the טלית.
  2. 'ציצית' refers to the ציצית themselves (they wrap around the person also, and surround him on all sides).

Of course, there may be some other meaning, that I haven't thought of, for either part of the word. Does anyone know the actual meaning?

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Note there are different opinions if the bet has a patach or shva. CYLNusach –  Double AA Mar 13 '13 at 16:44
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Note also that Sefardim (and the Gra) say this bracha before donning a tallit katan as well. –  Double AA Mar 13 '13 at 16:55
    
Surrounded with ציצית = 613mitzvos 613 –  sam Mar 13 '13 at 17:49
    
@sam, I meant something like "what 'בציצית' means literally", not "what midrashic interpretation exists of it". I'll edit the question. –  msh210 Mar 13 '13 at 17:52

1 Answer 1

Regarding the second half of the post, the gemara (Moed Kattan 24a) says:

דאמר שמואל ... וכל עטיפה שאינה כעטיפת ישמעאלים אינה עטיפה מחוי ר"נ עד גובי דדיקנא.

According to Rashi (ad loc.) this means that the chin must be completely covered during עטיפת ישמעאלים. This doesn't seem possible with strings, which would leave some of that area exposed. The requirement of atifa must apply to the beged, as atifa is not definitionally possible with strings, and therefore "'ציצית' refers synecdochically to the טלית."

Further, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 8:2-6 and elsewhere) strongly implies that atifa refers to the garment rather than the tzitzis.

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Note though that not that gemara is referring to Aveilut practices, and not everyone extends it to Tzitzit. –  Double AA Mar 13 '13 at 22:27
    
@DoubleAA Fair enough. This is what happens when I turn my comments into hasty posts. You're more than welcome to post a superior, more comprehensive answer, and I'd be more than happy to give it my vote (provided it's up to your usual good standards). –  Fred Mar 13 '13 at 22:32
    
Hey, there are enough people who do hold it applies to Tzitzit that this answer is still Shayach (as they say). Just maybe you can include that assumption in the post. –  Double AA Mar 13 '13 at 22:34
    
@DoubleAA You have my permission to edit my answer accordingly. –  Fred Mar 13 '13 at 22:34
    
+1, thanks; this seems to prove that my option that the blessing refers to wrapping oneself in/using the strings is wrong. It doesn't quite prove that 'ציצית' is using synecdoche: maybe there's some alternative explanation I haven't though of. –  msh210 Mar 14 '13 at 3:10

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