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?

  • I've always understood the berakha to be like suggestion #1. I think it emphasizes the ציצית more than #2 does. To me, #2 suggests that you sort-of fulfill the commandment halfway by wrapping yourself in something different.
    – Daniel
    Commented Jan 15, 2016 at 14:32

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.

  • Note though that not that gemara is referring to Aveilut practices, and not everyone extends it to Tzitzit.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 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
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 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
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 22:34
  • @DoubleAA You have my permission to edit my answer accordingly.
    – Fred
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 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
    Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 3:10

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