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12:1. If all the strings on the corner have torn, (1) and there remains upon them enough to tie all of the torn strings together, then they are (2) Kosher, and if not enough remains to tie them together, even on only one of those (3) that has torn, then they are all (4) invalid. Therefore, since every one of them is doubled over to make two [strings], if (5) two ends have torn off then the tzitzis are invalid, because (6) it could be that one string has torn [at both ends]. According to our practice – which is to be carefule when making Tzitzis to place a mark on four of the ends in such a way that these four ends are always on the same side of the knot, and the four [doubled] ends are on the other side – if (7) two ends tear off on the same side, the Tzitzis are still Kosher, because certainly these are two [different] strings, and each one still has its second end which is more than “long enough to tie.” (8) Rabbeinu Tam only accepts [Tzitzis] in a case where two complete strings remain – meaning four ends which each have a full 12-knuckle length [which is required when making new tzitzis]. Therefore he will accept them even when the other two tzitzis have torn – if they still have “enough to tie” – but if three have torn, even though they still have “enough to tie”, they are invalid. Because of this, when three ends have torn, if at the time the Tzitzis were made (9) he was not careful to ensure recognition of the four ends that came from one side of the [initial] knot, we are concerned that perhaps every end comes from a different string, and therefore there is only one complete string left – so because of this doubt we must invalidate the Tzitzis. However, if only two ends have torn, (10) they are Kosher if “enough to tie” remains. (11) The law follows the first opinion [which said that even if three or four threads are torn off, the Tzitzis are still Kosher as long as we know that each one is a torn end of a different string]. However, it is good to be concerned for Rabbeinu Tam’s opinion where possible. {Rama: Our [Ashkenazic] custom is to follow Rabbeinu Tam.} {Rama: All the more so [according to Rabbeinu Tam], if he _was_ precise to ensure recognition of the four ends that come from one side, and three strings tore all on one side, then the Tzitzis are posul, because we are certain that three threads have torn, and even if they tear on two different sides, we are concerned that possibly three different threads are involved.}

MB 1: And there remains upon them – Meaning, on each one of the strings there remains enough to make a tie all of the torn threads together. And if only some of the threads tore, it is sufficient if there remains on each torn string enough to tie only the torn strings together, and not all of them. [The Chazon Ish disagrees with this latter ruling.]

MB 2: Kosher – But if he unties the Tzitzis, it is forbidden to put them onto another Tallis [or even the same one], because now it is like making new Tzitzis. This is true even if only one string tore, as long as it no longer has the required length of 12 knuckles-width.

MB 3: That has torn – Meaning that on both ends together there does not remain “enough to tie”, then the Tzitzis are invalid – even though all the other strings are still whole. And if on both ends there remains “enough to tie” when adding both ends together, it is questionable whether that is good enough – and it seems from the Elya Raba and from Derech HaChaim that we should be stringent. And even if there is a question whether these two torn ends come from two strings or from one, and if so it is a question within a question (because perhaps they are from two threads, and even if not, there is still the question whether we can combine the remaining string from both ends), nonetheless we should still be stringent because Tzitzis are readily available. The Artzos HaChaim is lenient in this latter situation – and it seems that if there is enough on one of the two ends to tie at least one thread, then certainly we can rely upon his opinion.

MB 4: Invalid – see later in paragraph 3. And according to everyone, if one string tore from the “root,” meaning at the place it is attached to the garment, then the Tzitzis are invalid. The Taz writes that therefore everyone who has fear of Heaven should also look when examining his Tzitzis at the place where they are attached to the garment, to see if there is a tear.

MB 5: Two ends – And neither one still has “enough to tie.” But if either one does, the Tzitzis remain Kosher.

MB 6: It could be torn etc. – Meaning even if the two torn segments are from the same side, it could still be that both come from the same string, since he was not careful when he made them.

MB 7: Two ends etc. – This is also true even if all of the ends have torn off of one side, and only “enough to tie” remains on each of the four strings of the other – still, the Tzitzis are Kosher, because according to this opinion the Tzitzis only become invalid if one string is lacking on both ends. So the writer [Rabbi Karo] did not mean to be precise when he said that the second end “is _more_ than ‘enough to tie.'” The question was asked, if someone has threads of the Tzitzis that broke, and he goes back and ties them – is that sufficient now that he has made them complete by tying them? The later commentators concluded that the law is as follows: If from the beginning – before he made the tzitzis from the strings – the strings broke, and he tied them together with a strong knot and then made Tzitzis from them, they are Kosher, because the knot is a complete attachment of the two ends. So too after he made the Tzitzis in a Kosher fashion, which means if an end tore off after the Tzitzis were tied onto the garment, then even if “enough to tie” does not remain, it is acceptable to tie the string back together. Even if the second end broke afterwards – from that same string – it will still be Kosher, because at the time he knotted the string together it was Kosher even without the torn segment. However, if the strings were shortened by tearing enough that they became invalid – like if both ends tore, and “enough to tie” does not remain, or one thread broke at the place where it goes through the hole in the Tallis – then it does not help to go back and tie it together, because this falls into the problem of “you shall make, and not take from that which is already made [prefab Tzitzis, as we discussed earlier].” And all the more so if the string was shorter than the required length when the Tzitzis were first made, certainly it does not help to go back afterwards and to tie it back together, after making the wrapping and knotting of the first segment – this is absolutely under “you shall make, and not take from that which is already made,” as we saw earlier in Section 11 paragraph 13, when we discussed cutting of the ends of the strings.

MB 8: According to Rabbeinu Tam etc. – His reasoning is that the two ends which [folded double] comprise four are being placed into the garment in place of the Techeles [blue-green strings, which were used when we knew how to derive the correct color], and the other two remain as the white strings — and at least one of the two varieties should be complete.

MB 9: If he was not careful – this is difficult to understand, because all the more so if he _was_ careful, like the Rama adds afterwards. We can explain that he used the case where he was not careful, because of the latter situation, which he finishes with “however, if only two ends have torn…” where we accept them as long as there is “enough to tie” – because this is only if he was not careful [to ensure that four ends of four different strings remain on each side], because if he was, then if two strings are cut from the same side, it is Kosher even if “enough to tie” does _not_ remain – because each of these two strings still has another end which is long enough. However if two break, one from each side, and on each one less than “enough to tie” remains, then according to everyone the Tzitzis are invalid, because perhaps these two ends represent one string.

MB 10: They are Kosher with “enough to tie” – Meaning that even if the necessary length is only found on one of them, as I said earlier in MB5.

MB 11: The law etc. – It is clear that it is permissible to bless on them, as explained in the Biur Halacha.

12:2. Whenever we require “enough to tie,” and one is unable to tie them together because of the width of the strings (but if he had used narrower threads, what remains would be long enough) (12) they are Kosher. {Rama: We measure with medium-sized strings.}

MB 12: They are Kosher – Because they are long “enough to tie,” but merely because of their thickness he cannot tie them together.

12:3. “Enough to tie” is according to Rashi from where the knots end, and the threads become free of each other. According to the Ri, even if the entire loose section has been cut off, and “enough to tie” only remains in the wrapped and knotted section, it is still Kosher. The common custom is to follow Rashi – and where it is impossible otherwise, (13) the Ri can be relied upon.

MB 13: The Ri can be relied upon – And it is permissible to wear the garment. Earlier in paragraph 1, where it was written that “where possible, it is good to be concerned for Rabbeinu Tam’s opinion,” the meaning was only where it is possible to easily find other Tzitzis. However, it is not necessary to go after them if they are not in front of the person, or in searching he will miss praying with the congregation. And here, where it is written “where it is impossible otherwise,” the intent is in a place where Tzitzis cannot be found at all, then one can rely upon the Ri. Nonetheless, one should not make a blessing on these Tzitzis, and so too it is forbidden to go outside with them on Shabbos into a public area [where carrying is forbidden]. And in this case it is also acceptable, in an emergency, to accept even if some small part of the knotted section itself is cut. And know that all of this is irrelevant in a case where the string was cut where it passed through the hole in the garment, because there even according to the Ri it is invalid even in Torah law [vs. rendered invalid by the Rabbis]. And it is clear that where the Tzitzis have become invalid, it is necessary to remove the garment, and it does not help to stay standing where he is and not walk 4 footsteps, because the law of 4 footsteps applies only to going without Tzitzis [meaning, that one should not walk 4 footsteps without them]. Similarly, one should not fix the Tzitzis while the Tallis is still upon him, but should take it off and then fix it.

Yaakov Menken [email protected]