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1)There are two authentic ways to tie the Sisit (Tzitzis) that have sources. Maran writes to make 7-9-11-13. First question: why does he write this is he then says Gimtarya Hashem is One, when in fact it is not- Hashem is One in Hebrew is 39 and Maran wrote 40 which is not Hashem is One?

2) Why don't at least the Ashkenazim follow the Mehaber's minhag of 7-9-11-13?

3) There is a custom that stems back from Rav Shelomo Molecho who used to make Sisit 10-5-6-5 by individual wraps and the Hida brings that down as Halacha (and see Yalkut Yosef, Sheerit Yosef vol. 1, siman 11) to make it 10-5-6-5. However, for some reason some people took that way and mixed it with the way of the Arizal (see Shaar HaKawanot vol. 1, Tzitzit Derush 6 if I remember correctly) to make 3 Huliot and make 7-8-11-13, as brought down by Kaf HaHaim (siman 11) and the Shulhan Aruch HaRav (see Halacha Berura 11). My question is, some people took the way of the Ari and mixed it with the way of Hida. The Ari clearly states to make 7-8-11-13 with Huliot of 3, and when the Hachamim were talking about the Hida's method it means one by one in the 10-5-6-5 method. However, the popular Sephardic custom to me seems to be made up, and not have any source. Can someone give a source for this method of the 7-8-11-13 with the knots through them without the Huliot of 3?

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  • There are a LOT of methods detailed in the Rishonim, as per tekhelet.com/guide.htm
    – yitznewton
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 3:26
  • I understand, but my question is: where did the mix of the two opinions stem from? Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 3:27
  • Should this be split into two questions?
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 5:12
  • I think this needs to be clarified. Some of the background is a bit confusing. It is not clear until the end of the question that it is about the origins of the popular Sefaradi Minhag. Could this be made clear up front?
    – Seth J
    Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 14:27
  • I made a few revisions...How about now? Commented Dec 16, 2011 at 16:00

1 Answer 1

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This seems like multiple questions and I will suffice with addressing the first two:

1) The mechaber clearly states (OC 11:14) that 40 wraps is for 39+1, 39 being the gematria of Hashem Echad and 1 for the name itself. This (adding 1 for the entire object) is not at all an uncommon technique to use in gematria.

2) Since when have Ashkenazim been bound by the Mechaber's minhagim? The Mishna Berurah (sk 70) says that the "Achronim" argue on the Mechaber and rule 7-8-11-13 and that is what most Ashkenazim do.

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  • But the Rama doesn't argue. Commented Mar 25, 2012 at 15:44
  • I found the source for question number 3. Thanks for the excellent answer. Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 4:32
  • G-d created the world in 10 statements, each of which had 4 aspects. Thus, 40 represents creation. R' Aryeh Kaplan zt"l discusses this when explaining why a miqvah must contain 40 se'ah of water, and why the mabul required 40 days of rain. However, one of those 40 is creation ex nihilo -- making something from nothing. So human emulation of Hashem's creativity is "arba'im chaser achad -- 40 missing 1". Which is how the mishnah describes the number of categories of creative acts prohibited on Shabbos and the maximum number of lashes beis din metes out. Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 16:50
  • I think the differences between the minhagim is whether we are reminding ourselves of Hashem's Creation of the universe, or our own creative activity. The Shulchan Arukh has us look at just two corners of tzitzis during Shema because the 10 knots correspond to the 10 Sephiros. So it is unsurprising that his tzitzis refer to Hashem's 40 Acts of creation. Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 16:55
  • 7, 8, 11, 13, though, closely matches the way the 39 melakhos of Shabbos divide up. The first 11 melakhos (Shabbos 7:2) describe the steps necessary to grow wheat, turn it into flour, and make the lechem hapanim. The next 13 are about preparing the cloth of the curtains of the Mishkan, from the wool to the dying to the weaving and sowing. Seven melakhos relate to preparing hides into leather, and the last 8 are simply “none of the above." Commented Apr 12, 2015 at 16:55

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