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Friday, February 27

The Weekly Shtikle - Tetzaveh / Zachor

Much of this week's parsha deals with the vestments that the kohein gadol and regular kohein wore when they performed the service. Although their wardrobe seems to be discussed in its entirety, there is no mention of any tzitzis. (It may be argued that tefillin is not mentioned either but it is clear that they did wear tefillin.) It isn't completely clear which of the vestments actually had four corners. According to Rambam, it seems that at least the me'il, worn by the kohein gadol, had four corners. Why then is there no mention of the kohein gadol  putting tzitzis on the me'il?

 

The gemara (Arachin 3b) mentions a number of mitzvos that apply equally to kohanim, levi'im and yisraeilim and discusses them in depth. One such mitzvah is tzitzis. The gemara, as it does in the other instances as well, questions that it is obvious that everyone is obligated in the mitzvah of tzitzis. Why would one even have thought that a kohein or levi would be excluded? The gemara answers based on the juxtaposition of the mitzvos of sha'ateneiz and tzitzis (Devarim 22). The vestments of the kohanim are exempt from the prohibition of sha'atneiz, the combination of wool and linen, as the linen belt is placed tightly over the woolen tunic. One might have thought that since they are exempt from sha'atneiz, they are exempt from tzitzis as well. The gemara, therefore, needs to confirm that they are not, for they are only exempt from sha'atneiz while they are performing the service in their garments but not otherwise. Beis Yitzchak comments on this gemara that it seems that nevertheless, since the kohanim are, in fact, exempt from sha'atneiz while they are performing the service, they are also exempt from tzitzis while they are performing the service. This would explain why tzitzis were not placed on the me'il.

 

Minchas Chinuch (mitzvah 99, siman 4) discusses this issue and rejects the notion that the exemption from tzitzis has to do with being worn while performing the service. Rather, he contends that the reason why tzitzis were not placed on the me'il is because we are taught in the gemara (Chulin 136a) that there is only an obligation of tzitzis on a garment that belongs to you. A borrowed garment, for instance, is not obligated to have tzitzis. The vestments of the kohein gadol were hekdeish, consecrated, and did not belong to the kohein gadol  himself. Therefore, he was not obligated to put tzitzis on them.

 

Have a good Shabbos. Mishenichnas Adar Marbim beSimchah!

 

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

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