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The Artscroll siddur says to grasp the front two tzizit while saying baruach sheomar. Why hold only 2 of the 4 tzitzit? For the shema we hold all 4.

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    I thought that we hold the 4 from the bracha before sh'ma and then drop the back two for the 3rd perek of Sh'ma. (and hold only 2 for yishtabach)
    – rosends
    Aug 12 at 13:49
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    @rosends never heard of those customs
    – robev
    Aug 12 at 13:57
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    @YehudaW I don't think it is universal to all four, some only two, some none
    – robev
    Aug 12 at 13:58
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    In all fairness the Shulchan Aruch also prescribes the 2 front tzittzit for the Shema, it's the Arizal's innovation to hold all 4. Aug 12 at 13:58
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    sefaria.org/…
    – Dov
    Aug 12 at 14:06

2 Answers 2

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This is from פסקי תשבות סימן נ"א:

פסקי תשובות אורח חיים סימן נא אות ג ומש"כ המשנ"ב: ואוחז ב' הציציות לפניו בשעת אמירת ברוך שאמר. מקורו במג"א (סק"א) בשם כתבי האר"י ז"ל, וטעמו כי אור מצות ב' הציציות שלפניו מסבבים אותו מברכת ברוך שאמר עד ברכות ק"ש שאז נוסף אור מקיף גם מב' הציציות שלאחוריו

The basic concept is that in the beginning of pesukie dizimra we are on a lower level, which we manifest only in front of us, and by shema we reach a higher level which we manifest all around us on all four sides.

It is hard to understand without a broader understanding of Arizal.

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In addition to the above it is worth noting the SA, OC 24:5:

כשמסתכל בציציות מסתכל בב' ציציות שלפניו שיש בהם עשרה קשרים רמז להויות וגם יש בהם ט"ז חוטים ועשרה קשרים עולות כ"ו כשם ההויה

When one looks upon the ציצית he should look at the two fringes in front of him that have ten knots in total that allude to the Havayot (ie. Hashem's name YKVK with 10 different vowelizations), and they also have sixteen strings and ten knots that total twenty six which is the [gematria of the divine] name YKVK.

So it would seem that the act of holding the two tzitzis equates to Hashem's name of YKWK (gematriah of 26) when totalling the knots and strings (16 strings = 10 knots) of the two tzitzis which is appropriate for this part of our liturgy - as someone who is not adept at kabbalah I can't tell you more than that...

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  • This doesn't explain why one would hold two tzitiz during Baruch Sheamar
    – Yoreinu
    Aug 14 at 3:44

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