"An Occurrence in Space" A Study of the Section Dealing with Tzitzit

  • Rav Shimon Klein

Introduction

 

            Our study this week will focus on the section dealing with tzitzit. We will open with an exploration of the three dimensional space in which the passage takes place. In the second stage, we will engage in an attentive reading of the verses, and along with that become aware of existential questions and values. In both parts, extensive use will be made of the sense of imagination that is likely to resonate and weave meanings, far beyond what is written on these pages.

 

And the Lord spoke to Moshe, saying:

 

1. Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them that they should make them a fringe in the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they should put upon the fringe of each corner a thread of blue.

2. And it shall be to you as a fringe, that you may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that you seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you go astray.

3. That you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy to your God.

4. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God; I am the Lord your God.

(Bamidbar 15:37-41)

 

This section is comprised of four verses of content, which serve as four organic units.[1] The first is a command to make a fringe and put a thread of blue on it. In the second, we find a sequence of commands directed toward consciousness: "And it shall be to you as a fringe," "that you may look upon it, and remember," "that you seek not." In the third verse, mention is made of the objective: "That you may remember… and be holy." Finally, God makes Himself known to the children of Israel: "I am the Lord your God."

 

This passage prompts several questions. One is commanded to look at something that will bring him to remember God's commandments: "That you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord." In what way is seeing the threads of tzitzit supposed to remind a person of the mitzvot in general? A person is further commanded not to seek after his heart and his eyes, and he is commanded about holiness: "And be holy to your God." Here too it is not clear how the fulfillment of this mitzva is supposed to bring about this internal change in a person's soul. Put differently, what is the cognitive and spiritual process that is supposed to take place when one observes this commandment - "That you may look… and remember," "and that you seek not," "and that you be holy"?

 

The Expanse in Which this Takes Place

 

God turns to the children of Israel, giving them a series of commands, all this taking place in a given space. God is present in it, man is present in it, and between them there is movement and process.

 

Let us open with man's relationship to God and His place. In the first verse, God is not mentioned. Indeed, God commands man to make tzitzit and put on it a thread of blue, but man is preoccupied with these two tasks, rather than with God. In the second verse, man sees the tzitzit, remembers "all the commandments of the Lord," and God is already present in his world. Mentioning Him in third person makes Him present "there," far from man. In the third verse, an essential and unexpected change takes place, in the course of which God stands Himself in the expanse in which man is set – "thatyou may do all My commandments," stated in the first person. This formulation contains an invitation directed to man to seek God, since He is here, present, speaking of Himself in the first person. This position of closeness is maintained and even strengthened in the fourth verse, which is entirely in the first person. God makes Himself known to man: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God; I am the Lord your God."[2]

 

In corresponding fashion, the place where God sets "the children of Israel" is also on the move. In the first verse, they are described in the third person, located "there," at a distance ("them," "them," "their garments"). From the second verse until the end of the section, they are referred to in second person, as present before Him ("to you," "that you may look," "that you may remember," etc.). They merit a closeness to God that they had not merited before.

 

In the following lines, we will try to identify the spiritual world presented in these verses. We will identify the spiritual world of the person who is present in each of the units and conduct a dialogue with him. Regarding three of them, we will explore the questions: What is the nature of his activity? What is his relationship to God? And from the other direction, where does God place him? Our underlying assumption is that man is located in relation to God in accordance with his actions and his spiritual perspective.

 

As noted, the first person described makes tzitzit and places a thread of blue upon it. He does not, however, turn to the Giver of the commandment. His desire is exhausted by the question: What should he do? This person is set by God "there," far away from Him.

 

The second person already wears the tzitzit; now, he reflects and asks: What should I think?  What should I feel? God answers him: "When you see the tzitzit, remember the commandments of the Lord," or "Do not seek after your heart or after your eyes." In terms of his location, God relates to him as present before Him (in second person).

 

God turns to the third person with the words: "That you may remember and do all My commandments and be holy to your God," through which meaning is given to the mitzva of tzitzit. In addition, God connects the commandment to Himself in the first person – "My commandments." He presents Himself as present in the same expanse in which the person is found. By what virtue does this person merit this? Why does God find it appropriate to turn to him in such a personal manner?

 

There is common ground between the first and second people; both of them accept God's commandment as self-evident. This is not true of the third person. God's response to him attests to the hidden question that is bothering him: Why fulfill the mitzva? Why remember God's commandments? What will happen if I seek after my heart or my eyes? These questions move him from the position of blind obedience to the position of seeking to understand, of sharing his inner world.[3] This position seems to be the basis for God making Himself available, as one to whom a person can turn and talk to.[4]

 

The fourth person does not initiate anything. He continues to be present before God, but his closeness takes on a new form. "I am the Lord your God," says God in the first person, linking His revelation to him to the grand process of taking Israel out of Egypt to be their God. What brings God to do this? At this stage, the matter is unclear.

 

Before concluding this section, we must consider if the development described here is personal or historical-collective. On the basic level, the mitzva of tzitzit falls on the individual, and in this sense the process is personal. On another level, God turns to the "children of Israel," and the formulation is in the plural. This establishes a platform for something to happen on a larger "court," in the historical process of the people. Moreover, "throughout their generations," turns to one generation after another and speaks of an "inter-generational" historical process, one link followed by another link in the chain of generations. In fact, the process takes place on two courts: a personal process, in which the person is invited to move from one position to another, and alongside it, a historical process marked by movement and development from one generation to the next.

 

Tzitzit - Concept and Idea

 

Thus far we have dealt with the expanse in which the section takes place. We have exposed ourselves to the process to which God invites man, at the climax of which there is an encounter with Him. But we have not yet exposed ourselves to the issue to which the mitzva relates: the garment, the person, and the interaction that takes place between them. Also, we do not yet have an answer to the questions raised at the beginning of this study. Below, we will examine a literary phenomenon evident in the description of the different parts of the garment, and deeper insights alongside it – a first step toward the meaning of the tzitzit and the garment. From the next section and on, we will enter these gates with an attentive reading of Scripture.

 

"Speak to the children of Israel" – The section opens with these words, addressing itself to the children of Israel. Thus, it turns to its addressee in the plural: "And the Lord spoke to Moshe, saying: Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them that they should make them a fringe in the corners of their garments throughout their generations." This is the overall picture. But the term tzitzit is formulated in the singular: "That they make them a fringe (tzitit, in the singular)." Like a desert island, a single fringe is placed in the midst of many people and many garments.

 

An address formulated in the plural is a concrete address, directed at each and every member of the children of Israel. "The corners of their garments" denotes one garment after another garment of one member after another member of the children of Israel. In contrast, the term tzitzit is formulated in the singular. Clearly, the reference is not to a single fringe serving many people or many garments. The term tzitzit is written in the singular because it is used as a concept or an idea, rather than a concrete description.[5] In contrast to the verse as a whole, which is formulated in concrete terms, addressed to many people and making note of their many garments, the tzitzit is placed in a high place, describing a concept and idea.

 

This structure is consistent throughout the section - the distinction that exists between the overall context, which is formulated in concrete terms, and the values or mitzvot,which are described in the singular as concepts:

 

Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them that they should make them a fringe in the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they should put upon the fringe of each corner a thread of blue. And it shall be to you as a fringe, that you may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them; and that you seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you go astray.

 

As opposed to "the corners of their garments," which is formulated in the plural, as representing the nature of the world, the "fringe" and the "thread of blue" are formulated in the singular, inviting us to a world that is beyond nature.[6] It is in the tension between these two worlds that our section takes place.

 

Attentiveness in Scripture

 

Now let us move on to a close reading of the text. Our reading will be accompanied by a search for moral and spiritual meaning.

 

"Speak to the children of Israel and say to them" – this is a heading to the section. "That they should make them a fringe" – the beginning of the directive is to make tzitzit, an unconditional command. In a second circle, the fringe is associated with a garment – "in the corners of their garments," where it will hang. Scripture gives preference to the tzitzit over the corners of the garments in two ways – it is written first and it is written in the singular, a sign of its value and of the concept embedded in it.[7] The expression "the corners of their garments" points to the two constituent parts – "corner" and "garment." The corner is the edge of the garment, to which it is secondary. The plural formulation affiliates them to the world of nature and the profane. So much for the first imperative, regarding the presence of a transcendent fringe on the natural corner of a garment, like two poles serving one alongside the other.

 

In the next clause, there is a surprise: "And that they should put upon the fringe of each corner a thread of blue." This clause contains a new command. A person puts an additional element on "the fringe of the corner" – a thread of blue. The fringe of the corner serves as the context, as a designation of the garment, and the thread of blue represents the command of God.

 

"The fringe of the corner" is a wondrous expression. The fringe, which we know as an unconditional divine commandment, assumes a new form and is presented as "the fringe of the corner" – part of it and secondary to it.[8] Furthermore, the fringe is "the fringe of the corner," the corner is "the corner of the garment," and the (unwritten) meaning is to see the fringe as belonging to and secondary to the garment.

 

What is the position of the "corner"? Initially, it is connected to the garment ("the corners of their garments"); like it, it is formulated in the plural, belonging to the nature of the world. Now, in the wake of its new mission as that which bears the fringe ("the fringe of the corner"), it changes its position, and like the fringe it is formulated in the singular, as something that has turned into a concept or idea.

 

This is what happened: Initially, God issued a command about tzitzit, inviting man to the spiritual, that which is separate from nature. On the other hand, there is the natural "corner of the garment," and between the two of them a "field" is created that contains both of them, with clear preference for the fringe. At a later stage, after the fringe is already found on the corner, it becomes an integral part of it, a divine sign that is part of the fabric of life. Now, the spiritual aspect of the fringe no longer points to the heavens outside the system in which it is found. Its belonging to the garment creates a new equation, according to which it does not come to teach about itself, but rather about the garment to which it is attached, about the heavens and the infinite embedded in it.

 

To put it another way, a grave issue is being tested here - who serves whom? Do the mitzvot serve life, or does life serve the mitzvot? The answer distinguishes between two phases: In the first phase, the fringe and the garment stand one against the other – the fringe as a mitzva and the garment as representing life as it is, in its natural form. At this stage, preference is given to the fringe over the garment, to the holy over natural life, the former fashioning the latter and filling it with meaning. In truth, the meaning with which life is filled is not alien to it. It exposes the depth of life; more importantly, it exposes the divine that is embedded in it. In this sense, the commandments are secondary to life; they are designed to reveal the divine that is already in it.[9]

 

The logical next step is to deal with the nature of the additional commandment regarding the "thread of blue." As an introduction, we should allow ourselves to become acquainted with the various parts of a garment presented in this passage. This discussion should radiate backwards, shedding light on insights that have already been mentioned and adding clarity with respect to further study of the matter.

 

The Garment and Its Parts

 

The garments mentioned in our passage have four parts, two of which are natural - the garment itself and the corner of the garment - and two of which follow from a divine command: the fringe and the thread of blue.

 

The primary meanings embedded in these terms are as follows:

 

Garment (beged): A garment is used to cover a person's body, for protection and for decoration. A garment reflects a person's culture, the society in which he lives, and even his inner world. As mentioned earlier, the term "garment" appears in our passage in the plural, giving expression to mundane nature and life as it is, which are reflected in it. Moreover, the root "b-g-d" indicates a type of infidelity in the garment's very existence.[10] From the perspective of our passage, a garment can be seen as something that restricts or "betrays" the infiniteness of life or a person. A person's life has infinite aspects and dimensions, but a garment draws a single line, characterizing the person through the nature and qualities reflected in that garment. That restriction can be seen as a betrayal of his potential and infiniteness.

 

Corner (kanaf): The end of the garment is referred to as its "corner," kanaf. This term, which also means "wing," is not self-evident. Like a wing, which serves a bird for flight, the corner of a garment allows for movement in the world that is beyond. The corner of a garment is the place where the concrete garment comes to an end. Calling it by the term kanaf points us to beyond the physical garment. The earth also has "corners" – kanfot ha-aretz, "the corners of the earth" - and they too tell of a world that is beyond: "From the uttermost part [kenaf] of the earth have we heard songs" (Yeshayahu 24:16). There are songs that are heard only in that specific place, the outermost part of the earth. In our passage, the term kanaf appears first in the plural, indicating that it is part of the natural world. At a later stage, however, it appears in the singular. It is the corner that takes the first step to moderate the garment's betrayal, through the spiritual dimension that it bestows upon the garment and the spirituality that lies beyond the edges of the garment.

 

Fringe (tzitzit): In contrast to the corner of a garment, which suggests a world that is beyond but does not actually go beyond the garment's edge, the fringe takes a further step of peeking into what is beyond.[11] In contrast to a corner, which symbolizes the human spiritual world, tzitzit is a divine command, and as such it invites us to a supernatural spiritual zone. At the same time, the holiness in it is not detached from the world. The fringe is made by man and is tied to the corner of his garment because in its essence it peeks (metzitza) and is measured relative to it. The term tzitzit is always written in the singular.

 

Thread of blue (techelet): The thread is wound tightly around itself, creating an independent unit. As opposed to the spirituality of the fringe, which is set within the laws of the world, as belonging to the garment out of which it peeks, the thread of blue has autonomous existence. In the Midrash, the thread of blue invites the imagination to sail beyond the sea, to the blue of the sky and to the Throne of Glory. It is as if the thread of blue comes from a different world and not from the districts surrounding man.

 

Between Two Poles

 

            Two acts are staged in the first verse. In the first act, two poles stand opposite each other – the holy and the profane, the fringe and the corner of the garment. The result is the superiority of the holy over the profane.[12]

 

In the second act, the fringe joins the profane and becomes the "fringe of the corner," thus creating two different poles: "the fringe of the corner" on the one hand and the "thread of blue" on the other. The first one represents life in which the holy has been infused (the fringe of the corner), while the second, the thread of blue, represents the holy that comes from "there," from unknown places and districts.[13] What is supposed to happen between the two, between the holy in life and the "blue of the sky" or "the separate sky"?[14]

 

Before we answer these questions, note should be taken of the fact that in both these phases, despite the meaningful spiritual events taking place in them, God is not mentioned. Why? It may be suggested that God is not present in a place where the worlds are separated. One alongside the other stand the fringe and the corner of the garment, and in the second phase, the fringe of the garment and the thread of blue, but the equation connecting them has not yet been found. In the first place that they will be connected, there the commandments will be "the commandments of the Lord."

 

The answer is therefore found in the second verse:

 

And it shall be to you as a fringe, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them; and that you seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you go astray.

 

Generally speaking, this verse describes what is taking place in the expanse of consciousness. "And it shall be to you as a fringe" – there is something that until now had a certain status, and now it shall be a fringe; "you may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord" and "you must seek not after your own heart."

 

What is it that shall be to you as a fringe?

 

Obviously, this is not the "fringe (tzitzit; a feminine form) of the corner" described earlier. If that were so, one would have expected the verse to read "ve-hayeta lakhem," "and it (feminine) shall be to you," and then later “u-re'item ota,” "that you may look upon it (feminine)." According to the simple understanding, the reference is to the thread of blue with which the previous verse concludes. The separate thread of blue abandons its position and from now on shall be to you as a fringe. This abandonment takes place in two channels. First, in the very transition from the position of "thread of blue" to the position of "fringe," which in its essence is connected to the garment (peeking beyond it). In the wake of the process described already in the verses, we cannot avoid another channel, a hidden equation that is concealed here: The elevated thread of blue shall be to you as a fringe, the fringe is the fringe of the corner, and the corner is the corner of the garment. The chain of consciousness takes the separate thread and sees it as an ornament for the garment, which comes to teach not about itself but about the garment, to invite one who contemplates it to set off in his imagination and uncover new dimensions in it.

 

"That you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them" – We asked above: What about seeing the tzitzit is likely to remind a person about all the commandments? Now another question can be added to this: After the previous step in which the thread of blue becomes a fringe in man's consciousness, the expected wording is “u-re'item ota”– the tzitzit, in the feminine. What is the meaning of this ignoring the new identity of the thread of blue?

 

Indeed, the thread of blue is as a fringe, and in conceptual terms, "the pole of pure heaven" is assigned to "the pole of life." But at the same time, its original identity is not erased. At the first stage, it shall be to you as a fringe – in your perception of the world, you will relate to it as part of the garment. In the second stage, you will look upon it – you will look toward the thread of blue which serves as a supernal element in the life of the garment, and in the wake of this a spiritual process of remembering all the commandments will be created.

 

What is it that creates the remembrance of the commandments of the Lord? The answer seems to be the cognitive and spiritual ability of a person to relate to the thread of blue as a fringe, to look at it and see "it (oto;masculine)," the thread of blue, and not "it (ota;feminine)," the tzitzit. Remembrance of the mitzvot comes from identifying in the thread of blue the spiritual and the separate, the holy that comes from "there," from unknown places and districts. This seeing of the thread of blue as affiliated to life, as part of life, and at the same time seeing in it the pure heaven will remind a person of all the commandments – of the connection that exists through them between life and the divine command, which creates a horizon and sky above the life in which he is set.

 

The Continuation of the Cognitive Process

 

"That you seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you go astray" – A person goes astray when he doesn't give expression to the forces of life and the powers in them in a civilized way of life. His need for straying compensates for what is missing. The mitzva of tzitzit and the spiritual and educational equations embedded in it invite a person not to abandon the garment, nor life, and to set up mitzvot that will take him higher and higher, while at the same time do not diminish the force and quality of life as they are, in themselves. A person who follows this path will not be forced to seek after forces of life that are detached from his values and spirituality. He will not stand in a position of straying in face of the life that the world gives. A person going on this journey of the mitzva of tzitzit is not a person who separates himself from the world, but rather he is a person who has been invited by God to a world that is alive, vibrant, and full of meaning.

 

"That you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy to your God" - The garment and the life in which a person is found has already become conceptual and spiritual. Now the question may be asked: What purpose does this process serve? Here a person is exposed to a new dimension in his world, live communication with God. "My commandments," says God in first person, inviting man to a sort of encounter. In this person, who seeks deeper meaning for his life, the forces of life serve one alongside the other, with the high sky at their side. He fulfills more and more mitzvot; more and more circles of life are harnessed to this equation. The result is sanctified life. Not sanctity in the sense of abstention, but rather life in which the holy is present, filling it with meaning.

 

"I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God; I am the Lord your God." In the stage before the last in this event, God takes another step toward man's world and addresses him in first person. It is as if He says to him: "Come to know Me. I am the Lord your God." He continues by connecting His taking the children of Israel out of Egypt to the heart of what happened in this section. It was I who set the wheels of history in motion, taking you out of the land of Egypt, removing you from its straits, so that something be created between us, "to be your God." "To be your God" in the context of this passage means: in the wake of your position regarding life, as people who are connected to the infinite that is embedded in life and who are holy to your God, I invite you to connect yourselves to My great story with you as a nation. The large context of the small context described here in connection to the mitzva of tzitzit.

 

Before we conclude, we must try to answer for ourselves the question: Is it possible to identify "the beauty of the place" – "the book of Numbers" - with respect to this section"?

 

Our answer is that a very central axis in the book of Bamidbar deals with making God present in the camp in the life of both the community and the individual.[15] This axis is not self-evident, and in the book of Devarim, for example, we find the reverse. There the starting point is that the presence of God is an established fact, and the issue is clearing a space that will allow the child to grow and develop. In this sense, God in the book of Devarim is similar to a parent who is present in his child's life, and as the boy grows up he slowly clears a place for him, allowing him to exercise free choice and assume responsibility. In the context of the book of Bamidbar,the model presented in this passage fits in with the model found throughout the entire book – God who dwells among the children of Israel, both as a nation and as individuals.

 

"I am the Lord your God" - These last words abandon for a moment the big pictures. God once again identifies Himself, and this time he invites man to His personal and intimate story: "I am the Lord your God."

 

(Translated by David Strauss)

 



[1] An important principle in Torah study is that a verse is a statement all of whose parts are directly connected one to the other. An element that is pushed off to a different verse is detached from first degree connection and moves to a more distant, second degree connection. When the connection is not understood, it is a riddle that contains within it some essential insight.

[2] In our study of Parashat Bamidbar, we made note of the distinction between God "the Creator" – who is not associated with space and context - and God "the Dweller" – who is present and moves in space. In the context of our section, God's stance is similar to that of a father in a family framework. His presence involves involvement, awareness of what is happening, interest, and expressing an opinion. The father is perceived as being part of his child's world, as one who leaves his stamp upon him. As a result, processes that the son experiences reflect that presence. On the other hand, absence means a lack of parental presence, having no impact upon the child's development. This section opens in a reality in which life goes on without God's involvement, but step by step, He becomes involved and achieves presence in the world of man – each individual member of the children of Israel.

[3] The various stages correspond to the process of a child's development. His first activities are physical and practical; at a later stage, he seeks the meaning of his activities. A more advanced stage is that of adolescence, or "sawing off," as it is referred to in Kabbala. Now he is already a young man, and he no longer accepts anything as self-evident. He asks: Why? For what reason? These questions allow him to wean himself from a position of dependency and to establish a new foundation of connection and desire.

[4] One might have imagined God as rejecting man's question, seeing it as a demonstration of his lack of trust. On the other hand, one might have thought of God taking the initiative and turning to man, bursting into his world. The biblical description paints a third, more measured position. The forward movement accords with man's abilities, and it finds expression in God's informing him about His presence – "My commandments," He says, making Himself available to man.

[5] To illustrate this point: "Every one that keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it" (Yeshayahu 56:6). A person is defined as "keeping the Sabbath," even though he keeps many Sabbaths. The plural formulation Shabbatot, "Sabbaths," points to one actual Sabbath followed by another Sabbath. On the other hand, "keeping the Sabbath," defines the person's relationship toward the Sabbath as a spiritual value and idea.

[6] In the section "Attentiveness in Scripture," we will clarify the status of the corner, which is mentioned first in the plural, "the corners of their garments," and then later in the singular, "the fringe of the corner."

[7] See the section "Tzitzit – Concept and Idea."

[8] Just as "the corner of the garment" is secondary to the garment itself. The formulation that one might have expected is: "And that they should put upon the fringe a thread of blue."

[9] The first instance in Scripture of this distinction is found in Bereishit 2:7: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." This is a description of God blowing a soul into man. This process involves blowing from the inner midst of the blower into the inner midst of the other party. In the words of the Zohar: "He who blows blows of himself." (This citation is brought in Chassidic texts; the source in the Zohar is not known, though there are similar formulations, as in Zohar, Tazria 46b).This description of a part of God that is present in the inner world of man – the soul of life - is unparalleled in the depictions of creation. This has many ramifications, as may be illustrated from the gemara in Yoma 5b. The gemara brings a disagreement concerning the source of the law that saving a life sets aside all the mitzvot. The final source is an inference from the verse, "He shall live in them" (Vayikra 18:5) – and not die because of them. The mitzvot are meant to add life. Whenever a commandment clashes with life, it loses its value and is void. An expression of a similar structure is found also on the human field. For example, the value of keeping the law obligates the individual and society, who are subject to it. The deeper meaning is that laws are passed in order to allow life to be conducted – both the life of the individual and the life of the nation.

[10] "From the outermost part of the earth have we heard songs, glory to the righteous. But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe to me! Traitors have dealt treacherously (beged bogedim bagadu)" (Yeshayahu 24:16).

[11] Related words are netz (blossom) and tzetze'a (offspring), which issues (yotze) from a person.

[12] See the section "Attentiveness in Scripture."

[13] The differences between the two commands can best be appreciated when they are placed side by side:

Command 1

Command 2

They should make

-

them

-

a fringe

-

-

and they should put

upon the corners of their garments

upon the fringe of each corner

-

a thread of blue

throughout their generations.

 

 

In the first command, mention is made of the actual making of the fringe. In the second, there is no mention of the making of the thread of blue, a fact that puts it in an abstract, spiritual position. In the first command, the doing is for "them," for themselves, far from God. In the second, there is no mention of "for them," indicating that it is directed toward the divine command. These depictions accord with the assumption that sees in the fringe a type of spirituality that belongs to this world, as opposed to the thread of blue, which is spirituality that comes from the heavenly world.

Paradoxically, it may be proposed that the fringe dictates its presence to the corner of the garment. The thread of blue, on the other hand, is depicted after "the fringe of the garment," which serves it as a sort of context. Regarding the first, there is no putting – there is no real connection between the fringe and the corner of the garment. Regarding the second, there is putting, which denotes a transfer, putting the two in one domain. This does not contradict the fact that they are still two poles and that there is still a tension between the fringe of the corner and the thread of blue. Perhaps, on the contrary, the tension between them is intensified by the fact that the two are put in the same domain. The answer to this is found, as stated, in the second verse, in the connections that are created in man's consciousness in relation to the two of them.

[14] Serious controversies between different schools of thought and different spiritual worlds feed on the tension between these two poles - fidelity to life and to the values embedded in it versus loyalty to the holy, which is exalted and unconditional.

[15] See our study relating to Parashat Naso, especially beginning with the section: "The Camp Says 'Yes' to God."