Brookline expedition success

Yesterday had the most amazing weather; it was the perfect day for an expedition! The sidewalks were a bit treacherous, as there were puddles of water concealing ice sheets, but the sky was clear and it was so warm that I didn’t even need a sweater at times.

I successfully found a havdallah candle, six astoundingly fresh bagels (I’d already had a rather large lunch, so I didn’t get to eat them fresh.  I should have skipped the Chinese and just had lunch in the bakery, because yum.), and a tallit.  The last item was not entirely planned, as I will have the homemade one eventually, but since it will be done this summer at the earliest and will probably be somewhat unusually warm and fluffy, I thought I might look through the lighter-weight ones and see if the right one appeared.  The right one did, relatively rapidly.  Just to make sure, I put it back and browsed around for a while, found the candle, determined that they didn’t have the baking cookbook I’d been thinking of getting, and then went back and the tallit was still the right one.  It is painted silk, in a sort of subtle washed/dripped pattern in dark blues and greens, and the blessing painted on in silver.  It’s like having my own tiny little ocean :-)  And it was remarkably reasonably priced for hand-painted silk.  I think I may make new tzitzit…the ones it came with feel very mass-produced in a way that the cloth doesn’t.  I should find out what to do with the old ones if I do that, though.


8 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    debka_notion said,

    Tzitzit, being made purposefully for a mitzvah, should not be removed unless you’re going to put them on something else, or have someone else do so. If you decide to put your own on instead of the ones that came on the tallis, well- I’ll cheerfully take the old ones off your hands, or I’m sure someone else around would.

    You could also remove them, and then just retie them yourself- people do that a good amount, especially if they bought a tallis with Ashenazi knots, and want Sefardi ones, etc.

    What baking cookbook are you looking for? I’m going to the YU book sale sometime soonish, and I could keep an eye out for it, if you’d like…

    • 2

      limesarah said,

      Also, if I were to make tzitzit from scratch, are there rules for the fiber preparation apart from the intention-setting phrases used when tying them? Most of the information I’ve been able to find assumes one is not quite that much of a fiber geek.

  2. 3

    limesarah said,

    Thanks! That is much helpful information :-)

    There’s a link to the baking cookbook above — it’s called “A Blessing of Bread”. I found a really excellent raising challah recipe from it on someone’s blog, and it looks like it has all sorts of interesting things in it.

  3. 4

    debka_notion said,

    If your tallit contains any wool or linen, then you don’t want the tzitzit to contain the other one. In fact, they are best made with one or the other of those two fibers, generally, wool being the most common, but matching the garment that they’re going to go on is also desirable.

    The actual spinning needs to be done with the intention that the string will be used for tzitzit, as well.

    That’s what I know off the top of my head, but if this is something you’re actually planning to do, I’ll do some actual research into the sources. Let me now.

    • 5

      limesarah said,

      More research would be much appreciated if you have the time. :-) I definitely want to make tzitzit yarn for the entirely-homemade one. This tallit is 100% silk; the tzitzit feel like rather overprocessed wool. I wish I knew a test for fiber content that wasn’t destructive.

  4. 6

    debka_notion said,

    Ok, so this is the basics of what the shulchan arukh says on the topic of spinning tzitzit, from my quick read:
    1. They need to be made with intention, by saying aloud that the spinning is for the sake of making tzitzit (the usual declaration is “l’shem mitzvat tzitzit”, but saying “I’m spinning this thread for the purpose of making tzitzit” is basically the same thing, and a bit clearer.)
    2. There is a minimum length of 12 thumb-breadths. (I don’t think this will be a problem- but if you plan on doing this in more than one sitting, you’ll want to do at least that much per sitting, and with the declaration each time)
    3. Your string needs to be cut into the appropriate pieces before you start tying the knots. Once you start tying, the strings can’t be cut.

    Given that I don’t have time to write out all of the relevant sections right now, I would recommend to you that I’m pretty sure that the Brandeis library has this in translation- I can give you the call number, if you’d like… But I hope this is helpful. It would help me to know what you know already, and what you’re looking to find out, before beginning this part of the project.

    Also, if the tzitzit feel like wool, they’ll be wool and nothing else, because people are very careful about keeping fibers unmixed, and fulfilling mitzvot in the best way possible, and once you’ve chosen wool (the most common choice), they’ll be pure wool, to be sure that you’re fulfilling the mitzvah in the manner desired by Torah, rather than “just” in a way that fulfills it Rabbinically.

  5. 8

    limesarah said,

    This is very helpful! (And do let me know if I’m asking too many questions; there are a number of other people I can ask, but you seem to be having fun so far)

    *grins* If I can’t figure out the call number on my own, I’m not sure what Simmons is doing giving me a degree ;-)

    I’m sure they are wool, but if I hadn’t known that they had to be either wool or silk, I would have said they were synthetic, probably acrylic. I really don’t want to know what they did to the wool to get it to feel like that. I am very snobby about my fibers :-b

    Ok, so going through those sources, I have a couple more questions and then I think I’m set:
    1. “Wool” is described as meaning “lamb’s or ram’s wool”. This just means adult or juvenile sheep, right? There’s not some random rule against ewes? (But it does mean that I can’t use the awesome-sounding wool-mohair blend I found, yes? Darn; that would make utterly indestructible thread.)
    2. Tzitzit are normally made with 8-ply strands. Is this a requirement for getting the right number of strands and knots or just how they’re usually made? If I use the right kind of wool, I can get thread that thin, but that requires a lot more planning.
    3. I’m not actually planning on doing this, but can they be other (natural) colors than white?

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