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Following up on the question asked here: Why do people feel that there is a NEED to wear tzitzit?

It seems like the answer is that we wear it to remind us about all the mitzvos.

First of all, what is it about tzitzis that reminds us about mitzvos, what if I want to wear a red string on my finger as a reminder?

Second of all, what if it just isn't, then why am I wearing tzitzis. Meaning inherently there is no obligation to wear it, the only reason to wear it is to remind me about the mitzvos, but I have been wearing it my entire life and have never once thought about the mitzvos so why bother continuing to wear it?

And if you say 'Because it's a mitzva so just to do it to get reward', I guess that is a reason to do it, but there are many things we can do at all times to get reward and we don't treat them like obligations that we need to do at all moments (i.e. 6 constant mitzvos).

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  • @שלום how bout mezuza
    – Double AA
    Oct 3, 2023 at 15:01
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    "I have been wearing it my entire life and have never once thought about the mitzvos" Probably you're exaggerating. Anyhow, according to the Tur (sefaria.org/…), you're required to think about this every time you put them on, apparently as part of the Torah obligation.
    – MichoelR
    Oct 3, 2023 at 15:34
  • @MichoelR yep, it's in the wording of the Chumash...
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Oct 3, 2023 at 19:15
  • @MichoelR not an exaggeration and I am sure there are many people who never think it, you start at 3 years old and then it's just part of getting dressed in the morning.
    – yalow
    Oct 4, 2023 at 3:34
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    @RabbiKaii, the Bach says this about the Tur's comment. That there are three places the Tur says it (tzitzis, tefillin, sukkah), and in each case the Torah says, למען...
    – MichoelR
    Oct 4, 2023 at 18:20

1 Answer 1

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Tzitzit became an always-obligation on the advice of Chazal, in Menachot 41a, who brought the story of the angel who warned us against an attitude of not seeking to do positive mitzvot even when one doesn't need to, and also explained that this attitude elicits punishment from Hashem at times of Divine anger.

So we developed a very strong minhag to always wear it when awake. The fact that it reminds us to keep all the mitzvot adds to this but is not the main reason (note Sefer Hachinuch describes it as the shoresh of the general mitzva, and hints at what the Tur paskens: it is not a benefit but an obligation to remember the rest of the mitzvot when donning tzitzit!). The same gemara gives a story designed to help us understand that side of things: the man who almost slept with a prostitute, in a very premeditated way was saved at the last minute when his tzitzit hit him in the face when he was getting undressed.

The tzitzit are holy, and Jewish, and a mitzvah. Even if a red string works better for you, the tzitzit are still valuable and mystical, and their sanctity will protect you in ways that go deeper than the mere superficial reminder of the mitzvot.

On that point, it is worth reading through the Sefer Hachinuch on its explanations on the way the tzitzit remind us of the mitzvot. Apart from the more "miraculous" benefits I brought above, the Torah works best when it is studied with effort, so it's cures and remedies can work. As Ramban says, the Torah only makes us good people if we want it to, and we work hard.

Still, we don't wear tzitzit for any reminders. We wear them for the reasons listed above.

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  • Thank you, it is an insightful answer. Something that still bothers me is that if Hashem feels that we should be doing a positive mitzva even when we dont need to, then essentially its the same thing as saying you NEED to do it, because if you dont do it then you are not doing God's will, so much so that it became minhag haolam to wear it.
    – yalow
    Oct 4, 2023 at 3:32
  • Also, Is it really because of the gematria + 8 +5 = 613, why Hashem specifically commanded us to do THIS thing as a reminder about the mitzvos?
    – yalow
    Oct 4, 2023 at 3:33
  • @yalow TY :) I think it really boils down to a question of attitude. Times of Divine anger are when we have let Hashem down, and therefore when He probes our hearts and finds that we couldn't care less about the positive mitzvot, and avoid them unless we have to, in order to get our reward, that's indicative of a very sour attitude to our relationship with Him. Our Chachamim are always striving to go to the other extreme: show Him we care so much that even if we don't have to, we do, simply to please Him. See Mesilat Yisharim Chapter 18 for more on this concept.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Oct 4, 2023 at 12:46
  • @yalow with regard to the gematria, remember the opening teachings of both midrash rabbah and tanchuma both stress that Torah is a blueprint designed by a Master Artist. Personally, the fetus explanation is particularly moving and memorable. BH for so much depth and variety in the wisdom of creation, and the revelations of the intentions of the Master Artist in the Torah
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Oct 4, 2023 at 20:01
  • regarding Hashem probing our heart for our attitude. Since the chachamim have instituted it, we are not showing Hashem that we care about positive commandments. We are doing it because to us it was instituted by the chachamim so doesn't that undermine the whole point of wearing them. The reason to always wear them IS to show Hashem 'look we care about your positive commandments', but we are not really wearing them for that reason.
    – yalow
    Oct 10, 2023 at 0:53

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