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What's the story with wearing tzitzit during the nightime hours?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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The Torah says (Numbers 15:39), “And you will see [the Tzitzit] and you will remember all the commandments.” Thus the sages concluded that this Mitzvah is relegated to the daytime—the natural time for seeing. Nighttime clothing is exempt from tzitzit.*

[Even during the daytime, the Torah command to wear tzitzit only pertains to one who is already wearing a four-cornered garment. There is no obligation to actually wear a four-cornered garment. (This can be compared to the mitzvah of shechitah (slaughtering). There is a commandment to slaughter an animal if you want to eat meat. However, there is no obligation to eat meat). At night, however, according to biblical law it would be permitted to wear an "un-tzitzited" four-cornered garment. The Rabbis however, forbade wearing such a garment even during nighttime, lest the person forget to remove the garment before dawn.] 

Chassidim are careful to wear tzitzit even during the night, and even while sleeping. There are several reasons for this practice: (a) according to certain opinions, one can fulfill the mitzvah of tzitzit during the night if wearing a designated day garment. (b) If waking up after daylight, one will have fulfilled the mitzvah of tzitzit during the morning hours which have elapsed before his wakening. (c) According to Kabbalah, tzitzit provide a measure of protection even after dark.


* The definition of “daytime” and “nighttime clothing” is the subject of dispute between the medieval Halachic scholars. One opinion is that any garment worn during daytime hours is obligated in tzitzit and any garment worn at night is exempt. Others maintain that only a garment designated for nighttime use, such as pajamas, is exempt from tzitzit—even during daylight hours. Conversely, a garment which is normally worn during daytime is obligated in tzitzit even during the nighttime.

The Halachah has not been established according to either opinion.


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COMMENTS

BS"D

Posted by: Yosephdavyd, New York, NY on May 20, 2005

There are negative forces at night, especially in sleep, and the Tzitzit and Mezuzah guard us.

Tzitzit

Posted by: HazDaBeR, Andaluz, Sefarad on Jun 04, 2006

We should guard against placing spiritual energy into superstition. Thus, it seems wearing tzitzit at night, while asleep, is not a practice to embrace; there are no demons to disuade with amulets, garments, or incantations. There are negative forces in the world, but only aShem guards us.

RELATED CATEGORIES

Mitzvot » Tallit and Tzitzit
Daily Life » Clothing » Tallit and Tzitzit

Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Halachah
Jewish Law. All halachah which is applicable today is found in the Code of Jewish Law.
Halachic
Pertaining to Jewish Law.
Chassidim
(Pl.: Chassidim; Adj.: Chassidic) Following the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (1698-1760), the founder of "Chassidut." Chassidut emphasizes serving G-d with sincerity and joy, and the importance of connecting to a Rebbe (saintly mentor).
Kabbalah
Jewish mysticism. The word Kaballah means "reception," for we cannot physically perceive the Divine, we merely study the mystical truths which were transmitted to us by G-d Himself through His righteous servants.
Tzitzit
Literally: the fringes which are attached to four cornered garments, as Biblically mandated. Normally this word refers to a t-shirt sized four cornered garment which contains such fringes, and is usually worn beneath the shirt.