Thursday, February 07, 2008

R' Scheinberg's Sets of Tzitzis

One of the things that R' Chaim Pinchas Scheinberg, mara d'asra of Kiryas Mattersdorf, is known for is his wearing numerous bigdei dalet k'nafos, each carrying on it the requisite four tzitziyos according to a different shittah. Although one can trust that he knows what he's doing - tzitzis, after all, is one of the Taryag mitzvos, so is certainly worthwhile to ensure that one is fulfilling properly - the whole situation seemed to be a bit odd. The halachic process enables us to be confident that we're fulfilling the mitzvah properly by simply following the mesorah passed down to us from previous generations - and especially with tzitzis, which is exceptionally lenient b'diavad - so why did RCPS feel it so urgent to be yotzei every single da'as yachid, while none (to my knowledge) of his contemporaries or predecessors ever went to such lengths?

I recently heard an amazing explanation of RCPS's actions (from an adam ne'eman on a discussion list to which I subscribe) that places his actions in an entirely different context. Years back, one of his children was undergoing a medical procedure. RCPS made a neder that if his child survived, he would be extra careful with the mitzvah of tzitzis, perhaps chosen as an ostensibly simple mitzvah. Upon the fulfillment of the condition of his neder, he realized that being m'dakdek in the mitzvah of tzitzis meant being absolutely certain that he was yotzei l'chatchilah according to all shittos. And hence, he began to wear some large number of bigdei dalet k'nafos.

Gadlus is not about going eons beyond one's obligations based on the chumrah of the month. Gadlus can simply be ensuring that one fulfills whatever obligations are set upon him.

Update, 2/8: My chavrusa asked me on Facebook whether wearing sets according to many different shitos would constitute a tartei d'sasrei, in that some shittos would invalidate the sets of others, so that mimah nafshach he'd be wearing 4-cornered garments without tzitziyos and thus would be m'vatel the aseih altogether.

I'm not aware of what these dei'os yachid are, but at least according to the normative p'sak, it's very difficult to invalidate a tzitzis b'di'avad - IIRC, as long as one has 4 strings of around an inch-and-a-half in length (on both ends combined, even if one is entirely cut off), tied together with a single knot and one cyclical wrapping, the tzitzis is kosher. The differences probably lie in the l'chatchila formulation of the knots and wrapping.



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