Tzitzis (fringes+garment)

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About the Mitzvah of Tzitzit - the Torah says, "You shall make tassels (Gedilim) on the four corners of your garments…" From this we learn that Tzitzit are only required on a four-cornered garment. In ancient times, many garments were four-cornered. Clothing was not tailored as it is today, but most often consisted of a simple rectangle of cloth, direct from the loom, which was worn as a shawl, cape, tunic or toga. As late as the classical Greek period, the standard garments consisted of chiton and himation, which were essentially rectangles of cloth, draped and fastened around the body. Similar garments were worn in Talmudic times. Since everyone wore four-cornered clothing, they fulfilled the commandment of Tzitzith merely by placing them on their regular garb. Because we no longer regularly wear four-cornered clothing, we wear a special garment in order to fulfill this most important commandment. One of the most important Jewish commentators, Rabbi Yitzchak Abarbanel, stated that this is the reason why the Torah states that we must "make Tzitzith… for all generations." Even though a time would come when four-cornered garments would not normally be worn, we must continue to wear a special garment in order to fulfill the commandment of Tzitzit. This special garment is the Tallith Katan-the "small Tallith." It is also sometimes called an Arba Kanfoth-literally "four corners"-or simply "Tzitzit." In Yiddish it was often referred as Lahbsi-deckel, or "body cover." The Tallith Katan consists of a simple rectangle of cloth, with a hole for the neck. The Tallith Katan should be at least a cubit (or Amah) square on each side. According to our discussion on measurements, this would be between 18 and 24 inches. If possible, it is best to wear the larger size, and thus be covered according to even the stricter opinion. You should wear the Tallith Katan all day long. It is worn under your shirt, preferably over an undershirt, and is put on the first thing in the morning. - The Tallith Katan by Rabby Aryeh Kaplan Z"L