This article is an excerpt from our Sefer
Buy now on Amazon.com
Removing Tzitzis from a Kosher Tallis: 
With intent to tie the Tzitzis onto a different Tallis: It is permitted to untie the Tzitzis from one Tallis in order to immediately tie those Tzitzis onto a different Tallis [that is obligated in Tzitzis]. [This allowance applies even to remove the Tzitzis from a Tallis Gadol and place it onto a Tallis Katan. This applies even from a Biblical Tallis to a Rabbinical Tallis. Some Poskim however rule that if there are other Tzitzis available in the city that are not very expensive, one is not to remove the Tzitzis of any Tallis even with intent to tie to another Tallis. Likewise, it is only permitted to remove it if the second Tallis is already available for him to tie the Tzitzis to them. One is not to remove the Tzitzis of a Tallis which is used by a Gadol in order to tie it to the Tallis of a child.]
If some of the strings are torn: If one of the strings tore to below 12 Gudlin [24 cm], it is initially forbidden to remove the Tzitzis from one Tallis and place it on another Tallis. This applies even if the torn string is longer than Kdei Aniva [4 cm]. [It is however permitted to remove the strings in order to replace them with new strings, as will be explained next.]
Without intent to reuse the strings: It is forbidden to remove Kosher Tzitzis from a Tallis if one does not plan to tie those strings to another Tallis. [This applies even if the Tallis is only Rabbinically obligated in Tzitzis.] If however one plans to alter the Tallis so that it no longer contain four corners, then it is permitted to untie the Tzitzis from its corners. Likewise, if one plans to sell the garment to a gentile it is permitted to untie the Tzitzis from its corners. (It is for this reason that it is permitted to untie the Tzitzis of a person who is being buried.) It goes without saying that it is permitted to untie the Tzitzis if one’s intent is to tie a nicer set of Tzitzis onto it, or if one of the strings tore and he desires to tie a new set of complete Tzitzis onto it. Although in both of the above cases the current Tzitzis is still valid, nevertheless it is permitted to untie it in order to exchange it for a better pair. [In all cases it is permitted to remove invalid Tzitzis from the Tallis even if one does not plan to tie a new pair onto its corner.]
How to remove the Tzitzis: In those cases in which it is permitted to remove Kosher Tzitzis from the Tallis, one is to untie the Tzitzis rather than tear it off. [If however the strings are not Kosher then one may tear them off. Seemingly however one is not to cut them off using a metal instrument, as explained in the next Halacha.]
It is forbidden to remove Kosher Tzitzis from a Tallis unless one is doing so for one of the following reasons:
- One desires to place the Tzitzis onto another Beged.
- One desires to round one of the corners of the Tallis.
- One desires to sell the Tallis to a gentile.
- One desires to replace the Tzitzis with nicer strings.
- One of the strings of the Tzitzis is torn and one desires to replace the Tzitzis with a complete pair.
If the Tzitzis is Pasul, it may be removed in all cases without restriction.
If a Kosher Tallis is old and worn out, may its Tzitzis be removed from it?
Yes. It is permitted to remove the strings even if one does not plan to reuse them, such as if he desires to discard the Tallis and place the Tzitzis strings in Geniza. In such a case however one is to untie the strings, or cut off the corners together with the strings, rather than cut the strings off.
If one is selling a Tallis to another Jew, may the seller remove the Tzitzis if the buyer desires to attach different Tzitzis onto its corners?
The seller may not do so unless he plans to attach the Tzitzis to a different Tallis. The buyer however may remove the Tzitzis if he desires to tie nicer ones onto it.
May one turn a Tallis Gadol into a Tallis Katan?
May one remove Tzitzis from the Tallis Katan of a child that is not obligated in the Mitzvah?
 15/1-5 and Siddur Admur
 15/1; Siddur Admur; Michaber 15/1; Menachos 41b
 Olas Tamid 15/3; Kaf Hachaim 15/13; This excludes that one cannot untie the Tzitzis in order to place it onto the Tallis of a child, which is not obligated in Tzitzis from the letter of the law.
 The reason: Doing so is not considered a belittlement of the Mitzvah towards the Tallis from which it is being removed, being that he is immediately tying it to another garment. [ibid] There is no prohibition of ruining the correspondence of Hashem’s name in undoing the Tzitzis. [Kaf Hachaim 15/5]
 Beis Yehuda 29; Kaf Hachaim 15/1
 Transferring from a Biblical Tallis to a Rabbinical Tallis: Some Poskim question whether this allowance applies even to allow removing the Tzitzis of a wool Tallis, which is Biblical, in order to tie it to a cotton Tallis which is Rabbinical. [P”M 15 A”A 2] Practically the Poskim conclude that one may do so. [Poskim in Kaf Hachaim 15/2]
 P”M 15 M”Z 2; 19 M”Z 1; M”B 15/2; Lev Chaim 95; Poskim in Kaf Hachaim 15/4; Beir Moshe 8/45
 The reason: To suspect for the opinion of Shmuel which rules that all four cornered garments require Tzitzis even when one is not wearing it. [ibid]
 Poskim in Kaf Hachaim 15/4
 M”B 15/1; Poskim in Kaf Hachaim 15/1
 15/2; M”A 15/1
 Admur ibid; Taz 12/3; M”A 15/1
This implies that Bedieved if the strings were not 12 Gudlin it is nevertheless valid, as rules Olas Tamid 11/4; Lev Chaim 1/79; Chazon Ish 3/7; Kaf Hachaim 12/17 and 15/6; Biur Halacha 11 “Vichein Nohagin” concludes with a Tzaruch Iyun after bringing the different opinions in the matter.
Other opinions: Other Poskim rule it is invalid even Bedieved if the strings were not 12 Gudlin. [Elya Raba 11/6; P”M 11 M”Z 3, A”A 8; Machatzis Hashekel 15/1; Miasef Lekol Hamachanos 11/27; Eretz Tzvi 1/1; Implication of Beis Yosef; See Birkeiy Yosef 15/3]
 The reason: As prior to tying the strings onto the corner, all eight strings must be a length of 12 Gudlin. [ibid]
 15/5; Michaber 15/1; Tosafus Shabbos 22a; Menachos 41b
 The reason: As by doing so one is purposely invalidating the Mitzvah from this Tallis that the Tzitzis will be untied from. [Admur ibid; M”A 15/2] Some say it is forbidden to do so being that it is considered as if one is erasing the name of Hashem, to which the knots of the Tzitzis correspond. [Opinion brought in Poskim in Kaf Hachaim 11/48] The Poskim however negate this opinion. [Shaareiy Teshuvah 11/10; Poskim in Kaf Hachaim ibid; See Admur 12/6]
 Elya Raba 15/2; P”M 15 A”A 2
 Admur ibid; M”A 15/2; Poskim in Kaf Hachaim 15/11
 Admur ibid based on Rama ibid; M”A ibid; Poskim in Kaf Hachaim 15/11, unlike Elya Raba
The reason: As since a garment without four corners, and a garment that is owned by a gentile is not obligated in Tzitzis, it is found that the removal of the Tzitzis is not nullifying any Mitzvah from it. [ibid]
 Admur ibid; Rama ibid; Parentheses in original; See Yoreh Deah 351/2 that the custom is to invalidate one of the Tzitzis of the Tallis which the Niftar wears as Tachrichin. [Rama ibid]
 In the event that only one string tore and the rest of the Tzitzis are Kosher, one is to still reuse the old Tzitzis for the tying of the corner, and simply add one new string, unless one desires to have nicer strings in place of the remaining old Kosher strings. [Birkeiy Yosef 15/2; Shaareiy Teshuvah 15/2; Chayeh Adam 11/90; Ben Ish Chaiy Lech Lecha 7; Poskim in Kaf Hachaim 15/10]
 Admur ibid; Siddur Admur; M”A 15/2 in name of Levush; Taz 15/2; Elya Raba 15/1; Kneses Hagedola 15; Birkeiy Yosef 15/4; Chayeh Adam 11/32; Kitzur SHU”A 9/18; M”B 15/3; Poskim in Kaf Hachaim 15/8
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule one may not remove a Kosher pair of Tzitzis from a Tallis even for the above reasons, unless he plans to retie the strings to a different Tallis. [Mor Uketzia 15; Sheilaos of Rav Chaim Velazon; Implication of Maharam Merothenberg 269; Shulchan Hatahor 15/1; Piskeiy Teshuvos 15/1 footnote 2; See Ashel Avraham 11 for a full discussion on this matter.]
May one remove the Tzitzis to switch them for another pair which is not nicer and is of equal Kashrus status: Some Poskim rule it is forbidden to do so [Lev Chaim brought in Miasef Lekol Hamachanos] and so is implied from Admur ibid in the Shulchan Aruch and the M”A. However from Admur in the Siddur [which omits the words “nicer pair”] it implied that one may do so even if the other pair is not nicer or better. [See Siddur Rav Raskin footnote 160]
 Pashut, as the Tallis has already lost its Mitzvah and one is hence not causing any change of status to the Tallis by removing the invalid Tzitzis strings from it.
 Siddur Admur; Elya Raba 15/1 in name of Olas Tamid 15/2; P”M 15 A”A 1; M”Z 2
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that if one is removing the Tzitzis in order to place nicer Tzitzis onto the garment, it is permitted to tear the Tzitzis off. [Levush as explained in P”M ibid; Mahariy Malko brought in Birkeiy Yosef 15/2; Poskim in Kaf Hachaim 15/9; M”B 15/3 in name of Chayeh Adam; see Tzitzis Halacha Lemaaseh 15/23]
 The reason: As one should not invalidate Kosher Tzitzis with his bare hands as doing so is a belittlement of the Mitzvah. [ibid]
 Implication of Admur in Siddur; Rav Raskin in Siddur footnote 168
 M”B 15/3 in name of Artzos Hachaim; Kaf Hachaim 15/12; Piskeiy Teshuvos 15/1
 Birkeiy Yosef 15/4; Kaf Hachaim 15/11
 Beis Yehuda 29; Levushie Mordechai 3/11; Yabia Omer 2/1
 The reason: As the idea of Maalin Velo Moridin only applies by Tashmishei Kedusha and not by Tashmishei Mitzvah. [See Yoreh Deah Beis Yosef 259
 Lev Chaim 92 [leaves this matter in question]; Ben ish Chaiy Lech Lecha 21; Kaf Hachaim 21/6
 Elya Raba 15/2; P”M 15 A”A 2; Kaf Hachaim 15/13