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There is a line said before donning the tzitzit, talit and the tefillin, and the shaking of the lulav which reads (text adapted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Jewish_prayers_and_blessings and I don't know if there are variants and translation from the Artscroll siddur)

יהי רצון מלפניך ה׳ א‑להי וא‑להי אבותי, שתהא חשובה מצות _____ לפניך כאלו קימתיה בכל פרטיה ודקדוקי וכונותיה ותריג מצות התלוים בה, אמן סלה.‏

May it be Your will, Hashem, my God and he God of my forefathers, the commandment of ______ be as worthy before You as if I had fulfilled it in all details, implications, and intentions, as well as the six hundred thirteen commandments that are dependent upon it. Amen, Selah!

In what sense are the taryag mitzvot dependent on the putting on of tallit, tzitzit and tefillin or shaking the lulav?

Note -- I don't know if the same formulation is said before the performance of other mitzvot but maybe knowing "why" there is dependence might help me anticipate other situations in which it is said or why it isn't.

  • A few Mitzvot are listed as being as valuable as all the Mitzvot (Tzitzit, Talmud Torah, etc.). Probably not to be taken litereally. – Double AA Dec 23 '16 at 14:45
  • are you sure that in this context teluim bahh should be translated by dependent? – kouty Dec 25 '16 at 4:03
  • 1
    @kouty It isn't my translation. What would you rather it mean? – rosends Dec 25 '16 at 14:24
  • I looked at your link, and (perhaps it has changed since you first wrote the question) it looks like the Yehi Ratzon is only tied to Tzitzit. If the question is limited to Tzitzit, it's a little easier to answer (similar to how @WAF answers in the first part of his answer). Is there a source that ties this Yehi Ratzon to other mitzvs as well? – Salmononius2 Sep 4 '18 at 20:43
  • in my siddur tefillah hashalem (Greenwald) the yehi ratzon for tallit, tzitzit, lulav, and tefillin have it. – rosends Sep 4 '18 at 21:31
2

The example of tzitzis does stand out as being a gateway mitzva to the fulfillment of the others. Tzitzis is commanded initially as a mnemonic tool to spur one on to performance of all other mitzvos in B'midbar 15:39.

  • וְהָיָה לָכֶם לְצִיצִת, וּרְאִיתֶם אֹתוֹ וּזְכַרְתֶּם אֶת כָּל מִצְו‍ֹת ה' וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם

  • Step 1: Have tzitzis.
  • Step 2: Look at them.
  • Step 3: Recall all mitzvos.
  • Step 4: Do them!

T'filin may have a more direct link to other mitzva performance1, but they trivially serve as a facilitator therefor by being lifetime extenders according to a statement by Resh Lakish in M'nachos 44.

  • כל המניח תפילין מאריך ימים

  • Many have commented on how they uniquely might help lengthen one's life.

On the other hand, maybe it doesn't matter that some mitzvos are more prominently catalysts, and the dependency idea applies equally to all of them2. S'fas Emes (at the top of Chayei Sara 5632) suggests such a thing based on a holistic view of the mitzvos which, together and only together, form one cohesive body. Extending the body analogy, he points out that the limbs of a human depend on each other in the sense that each is only contributing to the whole if the rest of the whole is present to be contributed to.3

Applying this understanding to the pre-mitzva passage in question, the S'fas Emes allegedly answered the question of why the line is not "as well as the six hundred twelve commandments that are dependent upon it" by saying that it's really talking about the monolithic complement - or "body" - of mitzvos and not the discrete list of items.


1The Imrei Emes (at the end of B'reshis of 5669) deals with tzitzis and t'filin being correctives for temptation toward sin, as well as keys to other mitzvos, apparently based on Zohar. I would bet that his father dealt with the lulav similarly, considering how much effort he devoted to explaining Sukos and its accouterments.

2At least the proactive ones, which are relevant here.

3I don't think this is circular if you grant at least that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

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