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When tying tzitzit, you tie 7, 8, 11, then 13 krichot. I know the reason for 7 and 13 is because there are 7 shamayim in the rakiah and six passage ways between them, so there is 7 for the minimum, and 6+7 or 13 for the maximum. But what is the reason for the 8 and 11?

  • The 7-13 are supposed to remind us of "not less than 7, not more than 13 Menachos 39a when everyone wore Techeiles (whether 7-13 means winds or Chulyos - sets of winds - is a Machlokes Rishonim where Raavad/Natronai Gaon say winds and everyone else says Chulyos). The 39 has a numerical significance of YKVK Echad. The 8 and 11 therefore help aid that. 7 and then 8 become 15, which is YK. 11 itself is VK (6+5), and 13 is Echad. What I'd like to know is "when" 7-8-11-13 was adopted, 10-5-6-5 is used by Moroccan Sephardim, and Yemenites do 7 Chulyos. – Rafi Hecht May 25 at 13:53
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Simple.

The 7 and 8 equal 15, like yud and hey, the first two letters of Hashem's Name. The 11 can be split into 5 and 6, like vav and hey, the last two letters of Hashem's Name. The 13 can be split into 1, 8, and 4 like alef, chet, and dalet, so it's echad. So the tzitzit mean Hashem Echad, G-d is one, and also the 13 could be for the 13 Attributes of Mercy.

See this responsa from Ohr Somayach.

Also note that Sephardim do not tie this way. They tie 5, 6, 10, 5 like yud-kay-vav-kay.

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