is Hebrew, and translates
Tzitzit are a garment
Jewish males. Picture, if you will, a
rectangular piece of cloth with a hole cut out for
the head. On each of the four
corners are fringes,
woven of wool. The source for wearing this garment
comes from Numbers 15
(free form translation)
"And the Lord spoke to Moses
saying: Speak unto the Children of Israel and say
unto them: That they shall make for themselves fringes on
the corners of their garments, for generations, and they
shall place the fringes on the corners and add a blue thread. And they shall be for fringes, and you shall see them, and you will remember all the Lord's commandments and you will fulfill them, and you will not be led astray by your hearts and by your eyes, that you lust after what you see. So that you shall remember and fulfill all my commandments, and you shall be holy for your god. I am the Lord your God, I have taken you out of Egypt to be your God, I am the Lord your God."
This passage refers to any garment if it has four corners, the fringes are required. The tzitzit as an individual garment evolved during Rashi's time, somewhere in the 11th century, as clothing took on different forms and corners on clothing were less prevalent. Nowadays, there are still some people who will round off or sew closed the corners of straight edge garments1, eliminating the
possible need for fringes on those clothing in addition to the pair of tzitzit they
The dye for the blue string is supposed to come from the blood of a sea creature called the chilazon. There are no precise translations of this, although some speculate that it's a type of squid, while other Rabbinic authorities maintain that this species of fish is now extinct. Hence, nowadays, none of the fringes are dyed blue as specified.
There are four strings running through each corner of the garment, doubled over, so eight dangle. There is a complex method of knotting involved, such as that when one tallies 8 strings x 4 corners + the number of knots, it adds up to 613, the number of commandments in the Torah. This is a concrete enactment of the directive that the wearer be concious of God's laws at all times, and not be tempted by external influences.
The tzitzit are meant to be worn daily, as a constant reminder. Some sects wear them under their shirts, tucking the strings in. Others will leave the fringes dangling, as an open
Such as polo shirts which have a straight bottom and
side slits or blazers with a flap in the back.