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Iyyar 25, 5772

Is Wearing a Flag obligated in Tzitzit?


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Question:
If I want to wear a flag on Yom Ha’Atzma’ut, is it true I have to cut a corner of the flag?

Answer:
Shalom Aaron,
Good question- especially when we see more and more people wearing Israeli flags on the March of the Living, Yom haAtzmaut, Yom Y'rushalayim, etc. There is actually a difference of opinion on the issue. Rav Ya’akov Ariel, chief rabbi of Ramat Gan, writes that in fact, if a man wraps himself and wears an Israeli flag, he is obligated to either put tzitzit (tzitzis, fringes) on the corners, or round out one of the corners to exempt it. On the other hand, Rav Aviner of Beit El thinks that you’re not wearing it as clothing, but as a symbol, and therefore, it’s totally exempt. In addition, I may add, that some hold that the obligation is only if you have two corners in front opposite the two in the back (as the talit or tzitzit are generally worn, Beit Yosef, Or. Ch. 11), and not if you tie one end around your neck, or wear all four corners in front, which are the common ways to “wear” the flag. Regarding the more stringent opinion, it would be preferable to round out a corner (relatively unnoticeable), because putting visible tzitzit in a situation where most others don’t or exempt may be a problem of “yuhara” (halachic arrogance or “showing off”). In short, it’s true what you heard, on the other hand, one can surely rely on the lenient opinions.
With Love of Israel!
Rav Ari Shvat


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