Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Vigilance to Wear Tzizis

Rav Chaim Shaul Kaufman, zt”l, once gave an incisive lesson regarding tzitzis. “In Menachos 41 we find that an angel pointed out to Rav Katina that he always wore garments which were not obligated in tzitzis. When Rav Katina inquired whether punishment is meted out for this, the angel replied that when Hashem is angry one is punished due to this. The obvious question is why? Why punish for failing to fulfill a voluntary mitzvah? “The answer is that failing to seek out ways to fulfill voluntary positive commandments displays a marked lack of ahavas Hashem. Yet one is not punished for this alone. But when Hashem is angry with him because he deserves punishment for some other reason, he will not be spared. This is mida k’neged mida. He only serves Hashem according to the letter of the law so he gets what he deserves. But one who is careful with voluntary mitzvos goes beyond the letter of the law. Correspondingly Hashem will have hold back the avenging angels even when he deserves punishment.” But the Chasam Sofer, zt”l, explains this differently. “Rashi in Chumash explains that—like the four cups we drink on Pesach—the four corners of tzitzis correspond to the four expressions of redemption mentioned in the verse. The last of these four expressions is 'ולקחתי אתכם לי לעם'—‘and I will take you as My nation;’ a reference to the giving of the Torah. “But there is a fifth expression, 'והבאתי אתכם אל הארץ'—‘and I will bring you to the land.’ The reason we do not have a fifth tzitzis tzitzis tassel corresponding to this term is so we will not mistakenly think that Torah is only obligatory in Eretz Yisrael. “Yet there is a difference between the mitzvah of tzitzis in Eretz Yisrael and outside the land. When we are in exile, which the gemara in Menachos 41 calls a time of anger, we are obligated to go out of our way to wear a four cornered garment which requires tzitzis. Failure to wear tzitizis when we are in exile results in punishment. But when we are redeemed from galus we will not need to be particular to wear a garment obligated in tzitzis.”

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