I thought I was going to be single forever, I’m not talking about cowering in an overcrowded apartment in Washington heights making small talk with girls half my age and wondering if I was making a good impression – forever. I’m talking tree hugging in Yosemite, mountain biking road trips, and hitchhiking up and down the California coast – forever. I was doing perfectly fine, living on a borrowed Ikea futon in an old office in an old shul in San Francisco, sneaking downstairs in my underwear to use the bathroom and taking showers at friends houses. I was paying off my loans, working 30 hours a week and wondering whether to backpack in the Sierra or the Southern Cascades each week. Then, when I least expected it, wasn’t necessarily looking, the Lord plopped the love of life down into my midst and everything changed.
Clean Tzitzis: Before I got married, I never washed my tzitzis. I look back and think about how gross they must have been, but in my entire life I never washed my tzitzis once. I would wear them as long as I had no access to new ones. If I happened to be near a store that sold them, I bought new ones, if not, I would wear my ragged, bloodied, muddied, old disgusting tzitzis. I would even make fun of those people with white tzitzis, by saying that they probably never wore them. Now I realize they may have actually washed them, or had wives who washed them.
Now some of you are undoubtedly thinking that clean tzitzis sound like such a simple feat, but they aren’t. They require something which most single men I know don’t understand how to do and that is two step washing. As a young lad I never learned the art of bleach and the pre-soak. I’m still not sure how my white trash looking undershirts go from mechanic dirty to preppy white, but I know the magic happens in the sink because I find myself washing my hands in the kitchen several times a week. Never once did I see the bleach magic happen in my yeshiva days, but that could be that my fear of laundry caused me to wait between out shabbosim to bring my loads of laundry home on the plane for my father to do. If I got really desperate, I’d pay a classmate to do it, but never once did I wash my tzitzis.
I’m sure there are plenty of folks running around with dirty tzitzis, how else would half the world be wearing yellowed or brown tzitzis, but I’m also sure that there are some domesticated (or whipped depending on your understanding) men who’ve figured out the art of tzitzis washing. I have not, but I’ve come to realize that clean tzitzis allowed me to judge BT’s more favorably or realize that they may not even be BT’s. Not everyone wearing a clean pair of tzitzis is the type who has just put them on for the first time.
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