The Artscroll siddur says to hold the tzitzit in the left hand for the first two paragraphs of the morning shema and then also in the right hand for the 3rd paragraph.

What is the rationale for this change of hands in the holding of tzitzit during the Shema?

  • In between when it says to take the strings and when it says to kiss them, I note there is a different instructed action for the right hand.
    – Double AA
    Aug 25, 2022 at 18:23
  • @DoubleAA One question at a time.
    – Yehuda W
    Aug 26, 2022 at 0:10
  • I'm not asking a question
    – Double AA
    Aug 26, 2022 at 0:50
  • @DoubleAA It seemed like you wanted me to make my posting more complex.
    – Yehuda W
    Aug 26, 2022 at 12:55
  • If you were to take them in the right hand originally, you wouldn't be able to use it to cover your eyes
    – Double AA
    Aug 26, 2022 at 13:04

1 Answer 1


So I have a rationale for why we start with them in the left hand...

Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 24:4 writes:

מצוה לאחוז הציצית ביד שמאלית כנגד לבו בשעת קריאת שמע רמז לדבר והיו הדברים האלה וגו' על לבבך

It is a מצוה to grasp the ציצית with one's left hand near one's heart while reciting Kriyat Shema. This is alluded to [in the verse] "And these words shall be...on your heart."

(Sefaria translation)

(Parenthetically, the Mishnah Berurah at this point tells us about taking the tzitzis also in the right hand during the third paragraph of Shema:

ביד שמאלית - כתוב בכתבי האר"י ז"ל שיאחזם בין קמיצה לזרת וכשיגיע לפרשת ציצית יקחם גם ביד ימין ויביט בהם ויהיו בידו עד שמגיע לנאמנים ונחמדים לעד ואז ינשק הציצית ויסירם מידו

With your left hand - It is written in the writings of the Arizal that [one should] hold them (the Tzitzit strings) between the ring and pinky fingers. And when you get to the Parsha of ציצית, take them also in your right hand and gaze at them. And they should remain in your hands until you reach [the words] "נאמנים ונחמדים לעד"... at which point you kiss the Tzitzit and release them from your hands.

(Sefaria translation))

So we see that part of the rationale for at least starting holding the tzitzis in the left hand is because it is opposite the heart which hints how we should make the words "על לבבך" "on your heart". Also refer to the Shulchan Aruch HaRav 24:4

This point is developed even further by Eishel Avrohom 24:1 which adds:

לכן יטול ביד שמאל נגד לבו וכתיב בהו ולא תתורו אחרי לבבכם כי ציצית מצילין מחטא זנות

Therefore he takes them (the tzitzis) in the left hand opposite one's heart as it writes about it "So that you do not follow after your heart" (Bamidbar 15:39) because tzitzis saves a person from the sin of immorality.

  • 1
    Interesting. I still wonder about the left to right transfer and why specifically the ring and pinky fingers in the left hand Aug 25, 2022 at 21:59
  • 1
    It’s not a transfer to the right. The MB says to hold it ALSO in the right hand. Meaning to hold it in both hands during the parsha of tzitzis, assuming to show importance to them during the reading of that parsha.
    – Chatzkel
    Aug 25, 2022 at 22:04
  • @Chatzkel - I have edited accordingly but note there are varying minhagim. Refer to the Peninei Halacha - sefaria.org/…
    – Dov
    Aug 25, 2022 at 22:24
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    @CuriousYid - I also wondered about the ring and pinky finger thing it would seem it has deep Kabbalistic reasons with the Eishel Avraham quoting a Yam Shel Shlomo on Yevamos saying about it "שיש סוד עמוק בזה" - "That there is a deep secret in this" - tablet.otzar.org/#/book/156044/p/125/t/0.498038430442514061234/…
    – Dov
    Aug 25, 2022 at 22:27
  • @Dov interesting. I hate whenever I ask a question and the answer is just “oh there’s Kabbalistic reasons.” Like okay it could be right but like what are those reasons. I know nothing about Kabbalah but still I feel like it’s just a cop out answer Aug 26, 2022 at 19:31

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