# The length of each string

How long must each string be? [1]

After the four Tzitzis strings are folded to form 8 strings, each of the 8 strings must contain a [minimum] length[2] of 12 Gudlin/Thumbs.[3] One measures from the wide part of the thumb.[4] [Practically, this length is 24/24.5 cm.[5]] Each string must contain this minimum length after it is braided into Tzitzis, as will be explained next. Therefore, the initial four strings that are folded into eight must each be a minimum length of 30 Gudlin [60 cm] prior to them being tied to the corner.[6] [The Shamash, which is the string used to make the loops, is to be extra long so that its final length after the knots is 24 cm, as will be explained.] If one of the strings is below 12 Gudlin [24 cm], it is initially[7] forbidden to tie it to the Tallis.[8]

How to measure the 12 Gudlin/24 centimeters:[9] The above minimum length of 12 Gudlin per string is to be measured after the Tzitzis is tied to the corner and after all[10] the loops and knots are braided. [Meaning, that after the braiding of the Tzitzis is complete; the remaining length of each string must be 12 Gudlin/24 cm.] Furthermore, this minimum length is measured starting from the first bottom knot of the Tzitzis that is nearest to the corner, and does not include the area that rests on the corner, prior to the start of the knot.[11] [Thus, by a non-Chassidic Tallis Katan, in which the corner contains only one hole and the first knot only begins at the edge of the corner, the 24 cm is measured starting from that knot, hence losing the entire length of the string that rests on the corner, from the hole until the knot. However, by the Chabad and Chassidic Tallis Katan which contains two holes by the corner, hence allowing the first knot to be tied on the actual corner, by the two holes, the measurement begins from that knot and includes even the area that rests on the corner.[12]]

Is there a maximum length-May the strings be longer than 12 Gudlin/24 cm?[13] If one desires to make the strings longer than 12 Gudlin, he may do so. One may make them as long as he wants. Furthermore, it is even proper to do so [to make them longer than the minimum size of 12 Gudlin] in order to retain the minimum length of 12 Gudlin in the event that the strings tear.[14] [However, the strings are not to be exceedingly long. If they are exceedingly long then they are to be trimmed.[15]]

Using a very long string to make the braids?[16] One of the strings from amongst the 8 strings must be longer [than 24 cm] in order for it to be used to make the braid of the Tzitzis [and still retain its minimum 24 cm length after the braid is complete]. [This string is formally known as the Shamash.]

Must one use the same string to make the loops/braid?[17] If one does not have a string that is long enough to singly braid the entire Tzitzis, then he may use multiple strings for the braiding. He may braid some of the loops from one string and some of the loops from another string.[18]

Tying a loose string to a torn string so it meet the minimum measurement: See Halacha 14!

Q&A

What is the law if not all the 8 strings are a length of 24 cm after the tying is complete?

Some Poskim[19] rule the Tzitzis is invalid even if only one string is not this length. Other Poskim[20] rule the Tzitzis is valid, and so is implied to be the opinion of Admur.[21] Furthermore, some Poskim[22] suggest that perhaps if the strings were a length of 24 cm after the first set of loops and knots were complete, then it is valid even according to the first opinion, even though after completing the remainder of the braid it is no longer a 24 cm length. Others[23] however negate this suggestion.

What is one to do if his strings are not long enough to be 24 cm in length?[24]

If other strings are not available, one is to reduce in the amounts of loops and knots he makes in the braid.

If after the tying one noticed that one of the strings is not 24 cm in length, may one remove some of the loops in order to validate it according to all?

This matter requires further analysis.[25]

[1] 11/5; Siddur Admur; second opinion and final ruling in Michaber 8/4; Rabbeinu Tam Menachos 41b; Rosh 12

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that each of the 8 strings must be a minimum measurement of only 4 Gudlin. [first opinion in Michaber ibid; Menachos 39a; Omitted by Admur ibid] The Biur Halacha “Yoser Aruch” concludes one may be lenient like this opinion in a time of need to wear the Tzitzis without a blessing.

Is this measurement of 12 Gudlin Biblical or Rabbinical: Some Poskim rule it is Biblical. [Chayeh Adam 11/16; Aruch Hashulchan 11] Other Poskim rule it is only Rabbinically required due to Noiy Tzitzis. [Levush 11; M”B 11/20; Eretz Tzvi 1/2 based on Zohar Pinchas] Admur ibid does not give any implication into this matter. However from Admur 15/3 [brought next] it is implied that it is only Rabbinical.

[2] To note that in the Siddur Admur writes “width of 12 Gudlin” while here he writes length. However also here Admur concludes “We measure from the wide part of the Gudal”

[3] One is to measure from the width of the thumb. [Admur ibid] The measurement of the common mans thumb is the width of seven kernels of barley that are placed next to each other in close density. It is approximately the length of two kernels of barley. [11/6; M”A 11/5 in name of Rambam]

[4] Admur ibid; Siddur ibid; M”B 11/19 in name of Peri Megadim

[5] Shiureiy Torah 3/36 based on Poskim below; Initially it is to be 24.5 and at the very least 24 cm. [ibid]

Other opinions: According to the Chazon Ish, based on Poskim below, this length is 30 cm. Some Poskim rule one is to be stringent like this opinion. [Shevet Halevi 8/3; Piskeiy Teshuvos 11/16]

The measurement of a thumb: The thumb is a common measurement used in many areas of Halacha. It is commonly referred to also as the Etzba or finger. [Admur 32/63; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 11 footnote 100]  It is measured from its widest area of width, as stated above, without pressing down the thumb. [Machatzis Hashekel 11/5] There is a known dispute amongst Gedolei Yisrael as to the exact measurement of the thumb in cm. Some Poskim hold a thumb width is 2.5 cm. [Chazon Ish in Shiurim Shel Torah 3/2 and Kuntrus Hashurim based on Nodah Beyehuda; Gr”a; Beis Efraim; Chasam Sofer] Other Poskim however rule it is 2 cm. [Shiurei Torah ibid based on Rambam and Geonim; Minchas Baruch 75; Daas Torah Y.D. 35/116; Darkei Teshuvah 30/57; Rameh Mipuno 3; Yabi Omer 3/8 that so is custom of all Sephardim; Pesach Dvir 190]

Opinion of Admur: In 11/6 Admur rules the thumb is 7 hairs worth that are lying near each other. The Sheiris Yehuda Y.D. 11 writes in name of Admur that the thumb is 6 hairs worth, which is approximately 2.2 cm. The Chazon Ish ibid writes that it is clear from Admur in his Shulchan Aruch 11/6 that he rules like the Nodah Beyehuda and Gr”a that it is 2.4 cm.

[6] 11/7; based on M”A 11/8

The reason: This minimum length is needed in order so when the string is folded, the length of each side of the folded string is 15 Gudlin [30 cm]. Now, although the minimum length is 12 Gudlin, two of these 15 Gudlin are excluded due to it resting on the corner, as will be explained, and another Gudal is excluded being it is used for the making of the knots. Thus, only if one begins with 4 strings of 30 Gudal will he remain with the minimum length of 12 Gudal per string after the braid is complete. [ibid]

The measurement by a Tallis Katan with two holes: In the times of the Mishneh and Gemara it sufficed to have 24 Gudlin of string length being that they made the hole at the side of the corner and tightened the first knot to that hole, and hence they were able to measure the length from the actual hole. [Siddur Admur] This would likewise apply to a Tallis Katan that has two holes, in which the first knot is made in close proximity to the hole and hence one may begin counting the length from the hole.

[7] Admur 15/3; Taz 12/3; M”A 15/1

Bedieved: 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: Some Poskim rule it is invalid even Bedieved. [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]

[8] 15/3

[9] 11/7; Ketzos Hashulchan 6/16 footnote 43

[10] Admur ibid; Chazon Ish 3/3; See Biur Halacha 12 “Shema” regarding if a string tore after the first set of knots and loops. Seemingly Admur negates his doubt.

The reason: As the Mitzvah is not considered complete until one creates the 1/3 braid as is initially required. [See Biur Halacha ibid]

Other Poskim: Some Poskim question whether it suffices for the Tzitzis to be 24 cm long after the first set of loops and knots, as the Tzitzis is now Biblically valid. [Biur Halacha ibid; Ashel Avraham Butchach; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 11 footnote 95]

[11] Siddur Admur; Rama 11/4; Admur 11/7 as explained by Ketzos Hashulchan 6/16 footnote 43 and Shiuriey Torah 3/36

Ruling of Admur in Shulchan Aruch: Admur 11/7 rules that the measurement begins from the edge of the corner, while the entire area of string that rests on the corner is not included in the measurement. The Rama ibid however explains that the point is not to specifically exclude the corner area, but to exclude the area under the first knot, and so writes Admur in the Siddur. The Ketzos Hashulchan ibid clarifies that this is also the intent of Admur in 11/7 and hence there is no dispute in this matter between the Siddur and Shulchan Aruch.

[12] Ketzos Hashulchan 6/16 footnote 43 and Shiuriey Torah 3/36; Erech Shaiy 11; Piskeiy Teshuvos 11/15

[13] 11/9; Michaber 11/4; Menachos 42a

[14] Admur ibid; M”A 11/6; M”B 11/21 in name of Riy

[15] Mordechai, brought in Beis Yosef

[16] 11/8; Michaber 11/4

[17] 11/8; M”A 11/7; M”B 11/22

Other opinions: Some Poskim write it is proper to initially make the braid using the same string. [Sefer Chassidim Hachadash 643]

[18] The reason: As in the times that the Techeiles was found, they would braid some of the braid from Techeiles and some of the braid from the white string. [ibid]

[19] Elya Raba 11/6; P”M 11 M”Z 3, A”A 8; Machatzis Hashekel 15/1; Miasef Lekol Hamachanos 11/27 based on Zohar; Eretz Tzvi 1/1; Implication of Beis Yosef; See Birkeiy Yosef 15/3

[20] 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.

[21] 15/2 which states “If one of the strings tore to below 12 Gudlin [24 cm], it is initially forbidden to remove the Tzitzis and place it on another Tallis.” So writes also Taz 12/3; M”A 15/1. However see Machatzis Hashekel ibid that states these words are “Lav Davka” and in truth even Bedieved it is invalid.

[22] Biur Halacha 11 “Yoser Aruch”; Ashel Avraham Butchach; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 11 footnote 95

[23] Chazon Ish 3/3; Admur ibid writes to begin the measurement only after “all” the loops and knots are complete.

[24] Rav Akiva Eiger in his glosses to Derech Hachaim

[25] See Admur ibid that states the above is measured only after all the loops and knots are made. Vetzaruch Iyun.