Coping With No Strings Attached

no strings attachedYou know the people who take along a spare for everything they have in their luggage? Extra bottles of soap and deodorant, spare shoe laces, an extra toothbrush and a pile of batteries for the camera, another charger for the phone, all their jewelry, a spare set of prescription glasses…just in case?  Then when they return home they realize that  the extra weight could have stayed behind because the local stuff is just as good and why shlep it all the way when most of what we worry about never happens?

No Strings Attached

That brings me to the issue of taking a spare set of Tzitzit. Not a full Tallit Katan (the four fringed garment worn under the shirt). Just a set of Tzitzit, the eight fringes/strings. If there’s something that worries me while traveling beyond the Jewish Settlement, it’s that one or more strings on my Tallit Katan will tear and the garment will be Halachicaly disqualified. For those who wear their fringes inside the pants/trousers, the chances are small. But for Yeshivah Style travelers who walk around with their fringes dangling in the wind, getting “ripped off” with no strings attached, is a distinct possibility.

We lived in Amsterdam, Holland twenty-five years ago and everybody rode bicycles. Women, men and children. Old and young. Princes and paupers. One of my biggest concerns (besides for G-d forbid crashing into a tram with two kids on my bike), was getting my Tzitzit caught in the spokes. I always kept a few spare sets of Tzitzit strings at home for the nearly monthly ritual of tying on a new corner of fringes.

Cases when you need to replace torn strings – Slideshow

For me, it seems logical that if I go on a long trip I’ll take with an extra set of strings. Of course one can just take another Tallit Katan, but why carry extra when you only need the strings? But…most people (even among religious Jews) aren’t that familiar with tying their own fringes. In fact for years I tied my sons’ new Tzitzit until they grew up and learned the technique themselves.

Fringe Benefits

For those who wear a Tallit Katan (inside or out), and want to save space by only carrying the strings, here’s the DIY video. The video deals with one method of tying the fringes. As you can see in the picture at the top, there are  many systems for making the knots, but for sake of simplicity here’s the most common method.

I believe in traveling with minimum luggage and fuss, since one can replace most things locally. For some articles though, especially those with religious significance like Tzitzit, it’s better being safe then sorry and take a spare set of fringes.

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