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Holes of the Tzitzit

By Avrekh Rakhem Haokip

The Shulchan Aruch 11:9 writes that one should make a hole on the end of the horizontal length of the tallit not further from the edge than 3 fingerbreadths.

Strings stitched into the corners.

The Halacha Berura pg. 253 in Shaar Tziyun writes thus: The Nachalat Binyamin (Orach Chaim Siman 1) writes that the Torah says one must do the tzitzit “on” the edge of the cloth, and hence if a person stitches the strings into the cloth without making a whole, the strings and the cloth is considered as one body and is not “on” the edge of the cloth. Hence, it is considered Pasul. There are those who challenges the reasoning of the Nachalat Binyamin (See there for the full argument).

Two holes or One?

The Beit Yosef brings the Ba'al ha'itur(Halachot Tzitzit Gate 1 Halacha 3) and says that one should have two holes on his tallit such that the two halves of the strings would come out only on one side. However, the Beit Yosef ends by saying that we have never seen anyone concerned about this.

As it is aforesaid in the Talmud Yerushalmi (Yevamot 7:7) that every place we have a halacha that is not stable, go and see what the masses follow. We find it so in many places in the Talmud Bavli too, (eg. Berachot 45a) and a person who acts stringently in this matter is not acting stringent but the opposite.

The Mishna Berura Siman 11 Seif katan 39 brings the words of the Beit Yosef and adds that the Beit Khadash writes that one is allowed to do so on the tallit katan, it is behind your clothing and unseen to the public, and thus there is no reason to call it, "Impudent".

He also brings the Ariz"l (Shaar HaKavanot Drush 6 on Tzitzit) that says that he had the custom to have two holes on the tallit Katan. However,Maran HaChid”a in the Birkei Yosef writes in the name of Rabbi Shmuel Vital, the son of the Maharkh”u who was the primary student of the Ariz”l didn’t follow the custom. The custom to have two holes is widespread in the land of poland and on the other hand, in the lands of hungary and germany, this is not the custom. The Mishna Berura Ends by saying “Each river and it’s unique course”.

The Ben Ish Chai (Parashat Noach 15) writes that it is undoubtedly clear that that rabbeinu Chaim vital (The Maharkh”u in short) did understand from the Ariz”l that a tallit with or without two holes didn’t make any difference in respect to halacha, only that the Ariz”l being an Ashkenazi since his childhood followed the custom of having two holes, thus he continued it unchanged and Rabbeinu Chaim Vital on he other hand continued his custom.

The Ben Ish Chai concludes by saying that our custom is to have only one and thus, we continue our custom. The Jerusalemites chassidim also followed the custom to have only one hole whether it be tallit gadol or tallit katan. And so was the custom of Rabbeinu HaRashash.

Thus, Halacha Berura on page 258 rules that the sephardim and edut hamizrach had the custom to have only one hole and so one must not change his custom.

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