08 June 2018

Parshas Shelach: How Do The Tzitzit Protect – Who do the tzitzit protect from sin?

Parsha of the Week : Shelach
Rabbi David Hanania Pinto

How Do The Tzitzit Protect

"This shall be fringes for you, and when you see it, you will remember all the commandments of the L-rd to perform them" (Bamidbar 15:39)

Why is the parashah of tzitzit contiguous to the parashah of the Spies? Also, the mitzvah of tzitzit is contiguous to the parashah of Korach, since Chazal say that Korach mocked the valuable mitzvah. How did he do so? He went and assembled two hundred and fifty heads of Sanhedrin and dressed them in a tallit that is entirely techelet (sky blue wool): They came and stood before Moshe and asked him, “Does a cloak made entirely of blue wool require fringes [’tzitzit’], or is it exempt?” He replied, “It does require [fringes].” They began laughing at him [saying], "Is it possible that a cloak of another [colored] material, one string of blue wool exempts it [from the obligation of techelet], and this one, which is made entirely of blue wool, should not exempt itself?

This is very puzzling. After all, the purpose of the mitzvah of tzitzit is to instill fear of Heaven in a person, and to help him remember the mitzvot of Hashem. If so, how is it possible that this valuable mitzvah did not protect Korach and help him perceive his error? Why did Korach mock this mitzvah specifically?

Let us take a look at the benefits of the exalted mitzvah of tzitzit. I heard it said in the name of the Chafetz Chaim, zya"a, that the tallit is like a medal that Hashem gave Am Yisrael. Just like a king of flesh and blood grants one that he appreciates a medal to wear around his neck as a token of his appreciation for his devotion, so too, regarding Am Yisrael. Because they proclaimed: "We will do and we will hear," and they agreed to accept upon themselves the yoke of Torah with devotion, without even knowing what is written in it, Hashem recalls this grace and bestowe upon them a medal to place on their bodies, which is the tzitzit, that is a sign of honor and appreciation for their willingness to accept the Torah.

We see that the mitzvah of tzitzit has the potential to remind us from where our sacred soul is derived, and this reminder will cause us to remember all the mitzvot and fulfill them.

Since the mitzvah of tzitzit has the power to turn a person back to the right path, and it has the potential to draw a person close to Hashem and His Torah, I instructed my dear sons, sheyichyu, who are involved in kiruv, of bringing Jewish people back to fold of Judaism, to distribute the tallit katan to anyone who wants it at the gatherings for the sake of Torah which they conduct, and thank G-d, hundreds of tallitot were distributed only recently. Of course, there were Jewish people in Paris who drove in their cars on Shabbat while wearing their tallit katan… but after a while, when they did a soul-searching, they realized that they could not live a lie, and they ceased desecrating Shabbat. Gradually, they did complete teshuvah, and all in the merit of the tallit katan that they wore, because the mitzvah of tzitzit is so powerful, to the extent that it can cause a person to do teshuvah and draw closer to mitzvah observance.

Also a dead body is wrapped in a tallit during the funeral, and I would like to suggest that the purpose of this is in order to remind those who still live on this earth of the tremendous benefits of the tallit. A person should reflect and perceive the advantage of this holy garment, which has the potential to bring him to Gan Eden and to the life of the World to Come.

One of my close students, who is a senior doctor by profession, told me that he once jumped out the window of his office with self-sacrifice, in order not to stumble in sin. With the mercy of Hashem, he was saved from death. I asked him how he gathered courage to dare jump from such a high place? And he answered me that he was confident that the tallit katan which he wore would be his shield, and this mitzvah would protect him from all harm… Thus we see that the mitzvah of tzitzit protects a person both spiritually and physically.

But it is important to know that not everyone who wears a tallit katan is immediately saved from sin, because first of all he must intend to flee sin and desire to distance himself from it. He is obligated to invest effort and study ethical works in order to acquire fear of Heaven, and fill his heart with the awe of G-d, who commanded him to abstain from sin, and then the mitzvah of tzitzit will stand by him in times of challenge.

Therefore, it is stated regarding the mitzvah of tzitzit, "And you shall not wander after your hearts and after your eyes after which you are going astray, so that you shall remember and perform all My commandments." First of all, one must be careful not to wander after his heart's desire and to be careful to guard his eyes from seeing evil, because they are the agents to sin, and his obligation is to conquer his Yetzer Hara. If he does so, the merit of the tallit will assist him to be saved from sin and overcome his evil inclination.

Who do the tzitzit protect from sin?

"This shall be fringes for you, and when you see it, you will remember all the commandments of the Lord to perform them" (Bamidbar 15:39)

Why is blue specified from all the other colors [for this precept]?

Because blue resembles the color of the sea, and the sea resembles the color of the sky, and the sky resembles the color of [a sapphire, and a sapphire resembles the color of] the Throne of Glory, as it is said, "And there was under his feet as it were a paved work of sapphire stone," and it is also written, "The likeness of a throne as the appearance of a sapphire stone" (Menachot 43b).

Rashi explains: "The sky resembles the Throne of Glory, and the techelet reminds us of the One Who sits on the Throne of Glory." We need to clarify; is it really so, does then every person who sees the sea remember the Creator of the Universe and all the mitzvot that were given on Mount Sinai?
The Maggid of Dubna explained this through a parable:

A poor man was invited to the home of his rich friend. He saw the rich man sitting on a fancy, diamond-studded chair, which had a button on its side. Every time the rich man pressed the button, a waiter appeared carrying a tray filled with expensive food. This repeated itself every time he pressed the button on the side of the chair. More and more servants came holding platters filled with delicacies. The poor person was amazed. When he returned home, he excitedly related to his wife everything he saw. He concluded: "We must try to get this fancy chair with the magic button, and then we too will enjoy all the delicacies.”

This is what the poor couple did. They saved penny by penny until they managed to get a fancy chair similar to the one of the rich man. But to their dismay, when they pressed the button on the side of the chair, nothing happened…!

A wise man who saw what they did, told them: "Fools! Are you trying to be like that rich man? That rich man can afford many servants and all sorts of delicacies. Therefore, every time he presses the button, it signals his servants to bring him trays filled with delicacies. But you do not have anything in your house. What will the button do for you?”

The Maggid of Dubna, zt"l, concluded: "This is the explanation of the verse, "Will a shofar be sounded in the city and the people not quake?" This is referring to people who are preoccupied in the performance of mitzvot, and are G-d fearing and fear sin. For these people the blowing of the shofar is enough for them to begin contemplating the approaching Day of Judgment. But people who do not fear Heaven and are not engaged in the study of Torah, the sounding of the shofar will not help to arouse them from their complacency.

So too regarding tzitzit. It only helps people who fear sin and are filled with mitzvot. Regarding them the Torah states, "When you see it, you will remember all the commandments of the L-rd." But people who are not G-d fearing, it is clear that the segulah of the tzitzit will not help them to remember the mitzvot of Hashem.

The haftarah of the week: “And Yehoshua bin Nun sent forth” (Yehoshua 2)

The connection to the parashah: The parashah relates Moshe’s sending forth spies to scout the Land of Canaan. The haftarah tells of Yehoshua sending forth spies to check out the land, as well.

SOURCE: Hevrat Pinto

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