Talis: Makif & Penimi

Talis: Makif & Penimi

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Mitzvos operate in a paradoxical manner—they have finite formulas which we must grasp and somehow unite with the Infinite. The mitzvah to put on a talis was given to remind us of all other mitzvos, and it exemplifies this paradox. The talis envelops the person wearing it, reminding us of the Infinite that envelops and overwhelms the finite, and it terminates in precisely tightly knit dangling strings or fringes, the tzitzis, which correspond to the minutia of finite reality.

The word tzitzis is numerically valued at 600. Together with the eight strands and their five knots adds up to 613, the number of mitzvos in the Torah.

Additionally, there are four sets of chuliyos windings, 7, 8, 11, 13. The first set, 7 plus 8, equals 15 and corresponds to the first two letters of the essential four-letter name of God, which we are forbidden to pronounce. The number 11 corresponds to the second two letters of this name, and the number 13 is equal to echad, meaning “one/oneness.”

Essentially, this mitzvah brings out the idea that God’s oneness permeates our total reality, and it serves as a reminder of this truth.


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