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Tzitzis hanging from the side of the talis

Rabbi David SperlingCheshvan 23, 5777
336
Question
Dear Rabbi, According to Mishnah Berurah 11:15, the mechaber writes: "Yesh omrim that one must make a point of hanging the tzitzis to the length of the talis". MB 73 writes this is l’chatchila, but b’diavad, there is no insistence on it. Nowadays, it seems that the tzitzis are tied tightly to the talis so that they won’t slip from the length of the talis. Chabad solves the problem by making two holes. My question is whether it would be permissible to fasten the tzitzis to the length of the talis by means of a thread that would just encircle the tztizis and keep them secured to a point along the length of the talis. This would be done after the tzitzis have been tied. If I’m not being clear, I can send a picture highlighting the point where the thread would be sewn. The purpose of the thread would be to anchor the tzitzis to the talis so they don’t drop down. Thank you.
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. You are correct that whether the tzitzit fall from the side or the lower edge of the garment does not invalidate the mitzvah. However, I am not certain about what you wrote that the custom to tie the tzitzit through two holes in the garment solves the problem. The idea is that the tzitzit should fall from the side of the garment and not from the bottom edge. When they fall from the two holes they actually fall directly downwards and not from the sides. (See the work Piskay Tshuvot, chapter 11 footnote 231, and 150). In any event, as the Mishna Brurah writes, the main thing is that the tzitzit should not fall diagonally to the corner of the garment, as this is the way of the Karaites. As to your suggestion – it doesn't sound like a good idea to me. Firstly, (to quote the great sage Tevyah...) "tradition!". That is, we don't go changing the way we have been tying tzitzit for generations so quickly. Secondly, see the Sharay Tshuvah (ibid 11) who writes that "the world is not particular about this law" and explains what is the basis to be lenient. Thirdly, see the Shulchan Aruch chapter 15, 4-6, where there is much discussion about adding extra strings, and even having extra threads near and around the tzitzit threads. Even though your particular arrangement might perhaps somehow avoid the technical problems mentioned there – the general thrust of the halacha is not to add to the tzitzit strings. For all these reasons it would be advisable to leave the tying of the tzitzit strings, and the way they hang, to the traditional custom that each community has practiced for these many generations. May you be blessed to continue your fine Torah learning, and may your concern for the wonderful mitzvah of tzitzit be a merit to you. Blessings.
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