Tzizit – Sewing the Loose Ends
By: Rav Shalom Rosner
In this week’s parsha we are introduced to the mitzva of tzizit. A lot has been written about the reasoning behind this mitzva. We have mentioned Rav Soloveitchik’s view of the significance of tzitzit as a symbol of our servitude to Hashem, a kavla de’avda, a certain signet or stamp that a slave wears to indicate his inferior status. This year we will convey the message of tzizit as depicted by the Meshech Hochma.
Hashem created the world and, in a sense, “handed it off” to man to perfect. At the completion of the six days of creation we are told כי בו שבת מכל מלאכתו אשר ברא אלוקים לעשות - for thereon He abstained from all His work that God created to do. The last word of the pasuk - “la’asot” (to do) seems superfluous. It could have ended with a statement that God abstained from all the work that he created – what is the addition of the word la’asot coming to teach us? Perhaps it is to establish that after God completed his creation, He is now passing the baton to man to act and to continue to perfect the world. God left work undone so that man can complete the task.
The Midrash Tanchuma (Tazria 5) cites a famous dispute between Rabbi Akiva and Turnus Rufus. Turnus Rufus asked Rabbi Akiva, the following question: if God desires man to be circumcised why did He not create man circumcised? In response Rabbi Akiva explained that God gave man mitzvot in order to refine them. God created wheat, but man takes it and turns it into cake. So too, we perform the act of circumcision to symbolize our hand in perfecting ourselves and the world around us.
The Meshech Hochma explains the mitzva of tzizit in a similar manner. We are commanded to wear a four cornered garment with “fringes” or strings on each side. These fringes are to remind us that in the four corners of the world we will find God’s work to be completed by us. We need to close the “loose ends” and perfect ourselves and our environment.
As individuals we are never complete. There is always room for self-improvement. In addition, it is our duty to help make this world a better place. Both with respect to how people interact with each other and how we relate to the natural resources surrounding us. We are prohibited from wasting those resources (ba’al tashit).
When wearing tzizit and holding onto our fringes, it is as if we are holding onto the lifeline that Hashem is throwing our way, to enable us to get close to Hashem and to survive and thrive in this world. As we adorn ourselves with tzizit, may we internalize this message and act as true partners with Hashem in perfecting his creations.
Shiur ID: 9275