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Judging folks based on the way they wear their tzitzis

Up until about a year ago I rarely wore tzitzis, I wore them on shabbos and sometimes in the winter. In the summer the extra layer was a pain and in the winter the tzitzis scratched around under my shirt. Then a girl I was on a date with a girl from frumster and she asked why my profile has stated I was frum but didnít wear tzitzis regularly. Then all of the sudden I was wearing tzitzis regularly and then I was able to say a nother bracha per day. Since I always keep my shirts un-tucked, I found it natural to keep the tzitzis un-tucked- dangling loosely at my sides rather then having them tickling my thighs and groin area.

Until this weekend I never though much of that until a girl whom my friends were hanging out with made the comment that I should feel uncomfortable talking about certain things while showing off my Jewishness. She felt that my tzitzis hanging out were a personal statement and didnít belive that it was for comfort until my brother and a couple friends confirmed what I had said about the tickling of the legs.

It made me think of a great idea for judging people on how they wear their tzitzis. The most popular style of wearing them is yeshivish style, out of the pants in twos hanging at the sides, depending on length if dependant on your level of frumness. The medium length ones are more for yeshiva black hat, while the treally long ones are for chasidish, and any other hippie variety. If you wear them yeshivish style and have shorter strands you tend to be of the YU to the right crowd.

I am of the sloppy shlumpy variety, just regular old shmoes without any real affiliation or label who just dangle them out, for convenience. I really donít feel like having to un-tuck and re-tuck the whole ordeal during my trips to the porcelain throne. I am not trying to make a statement though these days with the judgmentalisms reaching their peaks within the frum community everything causes some kind of stir and can be in or out of favor with your shidduch prospects. Such as wearing those Zionistic-hippie-ticheles tzitzis. That is definitely putting yourself out there and making a statement. One that you support the colors and donít want tzitzis to resemble South Africa in the late 1980s. You are anti-apartheid and want to tell the world by sporting your blues. Or maybe you want to be extra frum, or maybe you are some wacky Zionist that loves to sport the blue and white. Or maybe you attended Bat Ayin for way to long and then ended up married in Moshav Modiin and now attend Avi Wiessís yeshiva. Whatever it may be- those blue strands of tzitzis make it easy to judge someone. It could also be compared o the black guys who wear one pant leg rolled up to signal that they are selling or buying drugs.

If you really want to be frum and show off your frumminess to the world, you may want to purchase a pair of woolen tzitzis that look like a small talis, maybe thatís why they are called talis katan? Anyway the frummest thing you can do is to wear these under a white shirt reveailing your are wearing them, and then un-tuck everything and walk hunched over, dragging your weekday shoes that are full black sneakers behind you. You may also want to buy a used capote and some pre-cholent stained pants. You camn buy pre-ripped jeans at Abercrombie- you should be able to buy pre-cholent stained pants at Wallachs.

If you want to be really modern orthodox, you may only want to wear tzitzis in the summer at camp or your year in Israel, you also should wear them over your t-shirt or without any shirt at all. They should also be mesh and have very short strings; it will ensure your modernity. Or you can just not wear them at all, but if you opt for this, you can always wear a wife beater undershirt so it looks like you have them on.

I have recently noticed a new style of tzitzis fashion, the fully un-tucked tzitzis that are not in strands of two, yet they are neatly out of the pants while the shirt is tucked in. So they dangle freely yet the shirt is neatly in the pants. It has been noticed chiefly amongst the modern orthodox machmir crowd- as if they are trying to distance themselves from the yeshivish and the Mo Libs- smart move guys. Just donít get them stuck in an escalator.

Rainbow tzitzis are by far the coolest tzitzis. They are hard to find and the only people who wear them are feminists, gays, and hippies, and maybe the token guy who always has to have a cowboy hat on in shull. In the future we can hope for all shade of colors as I am an equal opportunist. Though I think the rainbow will be the subtle way of telling your folks that their prized learning son is in fact gay, though the abundance of fresh meat at the beis medrish may enhance his willingness to learn all the time.

Some ideas for future tzitzis products:

I wish they would come out with sweat resistant tzitzis, odor resistant, and some water proof ones. We need extreme tzitzis and ones that can be worn as a shirt. I know they have the neat-tzit, but we need some cool shirts, like how about some rock t-shirts with tzitzis or maybe some jerseys. What is it with frum Jews and black and white? Change the tzitzis status quo already!

{ 18 comments… add one }
  • February 28, 2007, 1:24 PM

    I too wear my tzitzis out. (When I’m actually wearing tzitzis) I chose the giant tallis strings to show off my macher-ness.

    Another judgmental symbol is whether you have a black bar or a white/shiny bar across the beged of the tzitzis. The black bar and tassels make an extra frum statement.

  • February 28, 2007, 6:27 PM

    I like how you singled me out in your post. I appreciate the shout out. There are only 2 of us who went to Bat Ayin and are at YCT, I’m the only one who wears Tichelet.

    For further edification, I use the P’Til Techelet shita Ha’Raavad (one full blue string doubled over), and wear an Ari’zl begged (two holes on the angle so the strands hang actually on the corner) and tie according to the Ari using the extra thick and long strings; they rip too fast otherwise. Wool only, with the black stripe and tassels on the front because they don’t make the begged with my corners with a white stripe.

    What’s that say about me? (Besides the fact that I’m broke since they’re basically $100 a pair by the time you import them from Israel.)

  • February 28, 2007, 7:20 PM

    So you must be a trust fund hippie eh. They call them Trustafareans in Boulder. Or if I ever make the category of frummy hippie.

  • February 28, 2007, 10:29 PM

    Got that one way off… You know me better then that, no? I’ve been on my own since I was 16. No trust funds for me.

  • March 1, 2007, 5:59 AM

    You know I was joking right- I am working in Scotia this week and have realized how white trash and blue collar your hometown really is- dont forget the raging ghettos and the uber-wealthy college flung in the middle of it- interesting place.

  • March 1, 2007, 10:09 AM

    Love the ideas

  • March 8, 2007, 4:34 PM

    I like to tuck my tzitsis inside my butt crack and wear them like a tail.

  • March 8, 2007, 8:38 PM

    So instead of blue ticheles you like brown strings

  • M D Ryan Stern October 1, 2007, 5:44 PM

    The older I get, the more conservative I get. I am just now considering getting a Tallit katan to fufill the commandment on weekdays, out of synagogue. Do you have any suggestions for someone who is Reform?

  • heshman October 3, 2007, 3:38 AM

    Suggestions are up to your Rabbi, though I do not see what the big deal about putting on a pair of tzitzis is?

  • David April 21, 2008, 12:34 PM

    you arent really supposes to wear the tzitzit vest or t-shirt style directly on your skin- i think its considered impure- i wear them 75% of the time ( i wish it was 100) and i never wear them directly on my skin. i love stroking them and playing with them aswell.

  • Hesh April 21, 2008, 10:24 PM

    I always wear them on my skin- otherwise I wouldn’t wear them at all.

  • BT July 24, 2008, 4:13 PM

    i always find it a pain when i have to take a big one that my tzitzis keep on falling in. what are some techniques or suggestions from keeping my tzitzis turning brown?

    • ash April 25, 2010, 8:31 PM

      take the strings, pull your shirt up, and tuck them into the neck of your shirt and pull, so theyre all rolled up, you can hold them there, its a pain but better than getting you buisiness all over them.

  • Ken Lane May 4, 2009, 4:13 PM

    BT: Roll them up in your shirt. Keep rolling till you can hold the roll in your armpits. That should should keep away the brown techelet.

  • dassi June 9, 2009, 7:35 PM

    once again, i am so glad that i am a woman.

  • Anonymous December 13, 2009, 12:30 PM

    I’m not yeshivish at all, but I wear my tzitzis in pairs on the sides. It’s just easier than letting them dangle plus they don’t slap on my pants when I’m shuckelig in davening.

  • Adam March 5, 2010, 6:09 AM

    Where can I buy those rainbow tzitzis?


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