Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

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Vol. 23   No. 38

This issue is sponsored by Family Saperstein n"y
l'iluinishmas Avraham ben Chaim and Yuta Mirtza bas Dovid z"l
Yehuda Zev ben Yisrael and Shoshana bas Yitzcha zl
t.n.tz.v.h.

Parshas Sh'lach-L'cha

The Mitzvah of Tzitzis
(Adapted from the Yalkut Yitzchak)

Tzitzis = All the Mitzvos

There are three Mitzvos that are compared to the entire Torah - Idolatry, Shabbos and Tzitzis. And this explains the sequence of the last three Parshiyos in the current Sedra - the Korbanos that someone guilty of idolatry be'Shogeg needs to bring (Pesukim 27-31); the punishment of someone who desecrates Shabbos (32-36); and the Mitzvah of Tzitzis. Interestingly, Idolatry is a Lo Sa'aseh, Tzitzis, a positive command, whereas Shabbos, is a combination of both.

In addition, the juxtaposition of Tzitzis to Shabbos can also be explained by their shared focus on the number thirty-nine, made up of the four numbers seven, nine, eleven and thirteen - the four sets of ringlets in the case of the former, and the sets of Melachos (as presented in the Mishnah in Shabbos) in the case of the latter. And the significance of both Mitzvos is brought home by the fact that thirty-nine is the Gematriyah of 'Hashem Echod'. Indeed, both Mitzvos, each in its own way, point to the Oneness of G-d.

The number thirty-nine is also equivalent to 'tal' (dew) and 'lat' (curse'), a hint that the person who keeps the Mitzvos of Shabbos and Tzitzis will merit the 'tal shel techiyah' (the dew of techiyas ha'meisim) whereas violating them will earn him a Divine curse.

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Gentile Servants

Chazal teach us that whoever fulfils the Mitzvah of Tzitzis will merit no less than 2,800 gentiles when Mashi'ach comes who will offer their services to do his bidding. This is based on the Pasuk in Zecharyah (8:23) which states that 'Ten men from each of the seventy nations will hold on to each of the four corners of his garment' (10x70x4=2800). These gentiles will accompany him to Eretz Yisrael and will be prepared to do his bidding.

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A Kallah's Gift

The Minhag that a Kallah sends her Chasan a Tallis Gadol on the day of the wedding is based on a story cited in Chazal of a certain man who was meticulous in his observance of the Mitzvah of Tzitzis. He once got to hear about a well-known prostitute who lived in a distant land, who charged a fee of four hundred Zuz for her services. He sent her the money and went to visit her. On the verge of sinning, his Tzitzis struck him across the face. He fled the scene, and returned to his home in Eretz Yisrael without having sinned.

The prostitute, impressed with the man's integrity, traveled to Eretz Yisrael to search for him. She converted and did not rest until she found him. He married her and what he planned to do clandestinely he merited to do legally - thanks to the Mitzvah of Tzitzis.

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The connection between desisting from sin and Tzitzis is hinted in the Pasuk in Mishlei - "One who commits adultery with a woman is lacking heart" (6:32) - bearing in mind that the Gematriyah of "leiv" (heart) is thirty-two. And a garment contains a total of thirty-two Tzitzis.

And it is based on the above story that the custom evolved for a Kallah to send her Choson a tallis with thirty-two Tzitzis on the day of the wedding (referred to in Koheles as 'the day of the rejoining of one's heart') - to remind him to be faithful to her - just as the man in the above story, who remained faithful to Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu - thanks to the Mitzvah of Tzitzis.

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The Third Paragraph

Every morning and every evening, when we read the Sh'ma, we include the Parshah of Tzitzis. The Gemara in B'rachos (12b) explains that this is because the last Pasuk mentions Yetzi'as Mitzrayim, which in itself, is a Mitzvah to recall. In fact, the Gemara comments, there are a number of other Parshiyos that Chazal could have chosen that would be equally appropriate - The Parshah of Ribis (Vayikra 25), the Parshah of weights & measures (Ibid. 19) and that of Bil'am (Bamidbar 24). These may well have been more apt, particularly considering that night-time is not subject to Tzitzis. Yet they chose the Parshah of Tzitzis because of the five major issues that it incorporates

1. The Mitzvah of Tzitzis.
2. Yetzi'as Mitzrayim.
3. The yoke of Mitzvos.
4. The sin of immoral thoughts.
5. The sin of idolatrous thoughts.
(See also following article).

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The Three Parshiyos of the Sh'ma
& the Aseres ha'Dibros

The Yerushalmi in B'rachos (1:1) points out that the reason we read the three Parshiyos of the Sh'ma every day is because the Aseres ha'Dibros are hinted in them. And this is another good reason why Chazal chose specifically the Parshah of Tzitzis to add to the Sh'ma. (See previous article)

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