Why is it that in shul people are constantly reminding me to lift my tzitzit off the floor or actually doing the work for me and picking them up off the floor for me? What's so special about tzitzit that people are nervous about them touching the floor? Is there a difference between tzitzit and other mitzvot? Why do we treat tzitzit like seforim, which cannot be on the floor, instead of like other tashmishei mitzvah such as the lulav, the Sukkah, wine for kiddush etc which can touch the floor?
To turn attention to this issue is reported in name of the Agur.
See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 21, 4, the SA recommends not to letting the Tsitsit drag on the floor when he wears a Talit, Mishna Berura explained that this is an abasement of the mitsva. Magen Avraham says in name of the Agur (quoted in Bet Yosef) that about one who drags his tsitsit on the floor, the verse (Isaiah 14, 23) says "and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction".
In Magen Avraham and Kaf Hachayim the statement of the Agur is discussed, and this results in halachic controversy.
The Magen Avraham cites two Gemarot that contradict apparently the Halacha stated by the Agur.
- Berachot 18a:
Rabbi Hiyya and Rabbi Jonathan were once walking about in a cemetery, and the blue fringe of Rabbi Jonathan was trailing on the ground. Said Rabbi Hiyya to him: Lift it up, so that they [the dead] should not say: Tomorrow they are coming to join us and now they are insulting us
The problem was that the Tsitsit of Rabbi Yonathan was dragging on the graves. From this Gemara, we learn to hide Tsitsit in cemetery. To walk in cemetery with appearing tsitsit seems as we make fun of death they have no more mitsvot. Magen Avraham asks. The disrespect for death is the only problem! What about the problem of dragging the ground.?
- Gittin 56a:
Ben Zizith Hakeseth was so called because his fringes [zizith] used to trail on cushions [keseth].
If his tsitsit trailon cushions, the tsitsit of standard men trail on the ground, and this is not a problem.
The Kaf Hachayim says in name of the Nahar Shalom that the problem cited by the Agur is a case in which the tsitsit drags constantly on the ground. But if the tsitsit touch from time to time the ground, there's no problem. Other poskim said that the problem is when one steps on tstsiot.
According to the Kaf Hachayim the reason for which the mechaber did not quote the words of the Agur in SA is the fact that the two Gemarot above cited seems to contradict him.
So, at least following some poskim, people who are makpid to pick up your tsitsit when you are sitting can be allowed to cool down.
The Magen Avraham indeed, said that the graves were high and far from the ground, so there was no problem with the ground apart from graves.Thus, if the graves were at the level of the ground, there was a double problem of honoring death and honoring tsitsit, despite the lightness of the touching of the tsitsit of Rabbi Yonathan. The Magen Avraham thinks that the two Gemarot above cited are easily answered and don't contradict the Agur at all.
Why do we treat tzitzit like seforim instead of like other tashmishei mitzvah?
--> We do not this, see the three previous seifim in the siman, saif 3 for instance, permits to enter the washroom with tsitsit, Saif 1, according to the SA, we can throw in the garbage scratched tsitsit. Sefer Tora is different from those points of view.