THE SHI'UR OF TZITZIS
Support: It says 'similarly, there is no Shi'ur of a Lulav.' This cannot mean that there is no Shi'ur at all!
(Mishnah): If a Lulav is three Tefachim (and an additional Tefach) that rustles when shaken, it is Kosher.
We must explain that there is no maximum length of a Lulav, but there is a minimum;
Likewise, there is no maximum length of Tzitzis, but there is a minimum!
(Beraisa): Tzitzis refers to the Anaf (the strings that hang straight) - "va'Yikacheni b'Tzitzis Roshi."
(Abaye): The strings must be separated like the Bluris of Nochrim (hair grown long for the sake of idolatry. It is tied near the head, and separate away from the head.)
(Beraisa): If one attached strings on the corner (Rashi - on the edge; R. Gershom - without distancing three Etzba'os) or on the Gedil (a thick border to prevent the garment from tearing; alternatively, strings on the ends of the garment), it is Kosher;
R. Eliezer ben Yakov says, both of these are Pasul.
Question: Like which Tana does Rav hold?
(Rav): Tzitzis must hang over the corner.
Answer: He holds like R. Eliezer ben Yakov.
(R. Yakov): One must distance the Tzitzis from the corner a full thumb joint (Rashi - from the end of the thumb until the first knuckle; R. Gershom - the entire length of the thumb. This equals three thumb-widths).
We need the teachings of R. Yakov and Rav Papa (41b, 3:j);
Rav Papa gave the maximum distance (three Etzba'os) from the corner. One might have thought that the closer it is, the better (without limit)!
R. Yakov gave the minimum distance from the corner. One might have thought that the further it is, the better!
The corner of Ravina's garment tore. The Tzitzis was no longer a Godel from the corner.
Rav Sama (to Ravina): Do you disagree with R. Yakov's teaching?!
Ravina: That applies only when attaching the Tzitzis.
Rav Sama was embarrassed. To console him, Rav Ashi said 'people from Eretz Yisrael (such as Ravina) have twice the Chachmah of people of Bavel.'
Rav Acha bar Yakov folded four strings, and put the folded ends through the corner. He then put the two ends of each string through the loop in its middle;
He requires eight strings through the garment itself, to fulfill Gedilim (four strings) where there is Pesil. (Rashi; Tosfos - he requires four strings of Lavan, and four of Techeles. Bach (on Rif 12b:3 - he requires eight strings in the garment, just like we require eight where there is Pesil.)
R. Yirmeyah mi'Difti folded eight strings, and put the folded ends through the corner. He did not put the 16 ends through the loops;
Mar brei d'Ravina did as we do. (He put four unfolded strings through the corner.)
ON WHICH MITZVOS DO WE BLESS?
Rav Ada bar Ahavah made a Brachah on making Tzitzis.
Rav Nachman: This is wrong. Rav taught that we do not bless on making Tzitzis.
Version #1 - Rav Chisda - Contradiction (Rav Yehudah citing Rav): A Nochri cannot make Tzitzis, because it says "Daber El Bnei Yisrael v'Asu Lahem Tzitzis." Yisraelim can make Tzitzis, but Nochrim cannot!
Question: What is the contradiction?
Answer (Rav Yosef): Rav Chisda holds that a Yisrael blesses precisely on Mitzvos that a Nochri cannot do.
Question: A Nochri can circumcise, but we bless on it!
(Beraisa - R. Meir): If there is not a Yisrael who can circumcise, a Nochri should circumcise, but not a Kusi. (Kusim are Nochrim who were settled in place of the 10 Shevatim, and their descendants. They converted to avoid being eaten by lions, but they did not observe all the Mitzvos.)
R. Yehudah says, a Kusi should circumcise, but not a Nochri.
One who circumcises blesses '...v'Tzivanu Al ha'Milah'!
Answer: This is not difficult for Rav. He holds that a Nochri cannot circumcise!
Question: What is the source that a Nochri cannot circumcise?
Answer #1 (Daro bar Papa citing Rav): We learn from "v'Atah Es Brisi Tishmor."
Answer #2 (R. Yochanan): "Himol Yimol" - one who is circumcised will circumcise others.
Question: Sukah supports Rav Chisda's rule, but Tefilin refutes it!
(Beraisa): A Sukah is Kosher even if it was made by or for Nochrim, women, animals, or Kusim, as long as it has the proper amount of Sechach;
A Yisrael who builds a Sukah does not bless (on building it).
(Beraisa): A Yisrael who builds a Sukah blesses 'Shehecheyanu'. When he dwells in it, he blesses '... v'Tzivanu Leshev ba'Sukah'.
He does not bless 'to make a Sukah'!
(R. Chinena - Beraisa): A Sefer Torah, Tefilin or Mezuzah written by any of the following is Pasul - a Tzeduki (Tzedukim kept the Mitzvos according to their mistaken understanding, they did not heed the Oral tradition; some texts say 'Min', i.e. a Nochri priest, even though he knows how to write it), Kusi, Nochri, slave, woman, child, or Mumar (idolater, or one who denies the Mitzvos). "U'Kshartam... u'Chsavtam" - only one who is commanded (and accepts) to wear Tefilin is Kosher to write.
A Yisrael who writes Tefilin does not bless;
(R. Chiya brei d'Rav Huna): We bless '...v'Tzivanu Lehani'ach Tefilin' on the Shel Yad, and (some say - if he talked in between or cannot wear the Shel Yad) 'Al Mitzvas Tefilin' on the Shel Rosh!
There is no Berachah for writing Tefilin.
Answer: We bless on a Mitzvah that is final (e.g. circumcision), even if Nochrim can do it;
We do not bless on a Mitzvah that is not final (e.g. writing Tefilin; the final Mitzvah is wearing them), even if Nochrim cannot do it.
Amora'im argue about whether Tzitzis is a Chovas Talis or Chovas Adam. (Rav Chisda holds that it is Chovas Talis. Therefore, attaching Tzitzis is the final Mitzvah, so a Nochri may not do it, and Yisraelim bless on it; Rav Nachman holds that it is Chovas Adam, the final Mitzvah is wearing it, therefore a Nochri may attach the Tzitzis, so Yisraelim do not bless on this.)
Rav Mordechai (to Rav Ashi): You learned like Rav Chisda (above, (b). Therefore, you had a contradiction in Rav. The way we learned, there was no difficulty!)
Version #2 - Rav Mordechai - (Rav Yehudah citing Rav): A Nochri can make Tzitzis - "Daber El Bnei Yisrael v'Asu Lahem Tzitzis." Others may make Tzitzis for Yisrael.
MITZVOS THAT MUST BE PREPARED LISHMAH
(Rav Yehudah): If Tzitzis were made from excess strands on the end of the garment, they are Pasul. (Rashi - this is due to Ta'aseh v'Lo Min ha'Asuy. Tosfos - they were not attached Lishmah);
If they were made from Sisin (a certain plant), they are Kosher (even though they were not spun Lishmah);
(Shmuel): Even from Sisin, they are Pasul. Tzitzis must be spun Lishmah.
Rav and Shmuel argue like the following Tana'im;
(Beraisa): If Tefilin were covered with gold or with hide of a Tamei animal, they are Pasul;
If they were covered with hide of a Tahor animal, they are Kosher, even if it was not tanned Lishmah;
R. Shimon ben Gamliel disqualifies. The leather must be tanned Lishmah.
Question (Abaye): How do you dye Techeles strings?
Answer (Rav Shmuel bar Rav Yehudah): We take the blood of the Chilazon (a special fish) and cook it with (Rashi - soak it in) dying ingredients such as alum;
To see if it finished cooking, we take some in an eggshell, and dye a tuft of wool in it. We spill out the dye in the eggshell and burn the tuft.
We learn three laws from this;
A dyed sample is Pasul (for Techeles. This is why we burn the tuft);
The dying must be Lishmah (to make the wool Kosher for the Mitzvah);
If the sample dye would be returned to the pot, it would disqualify all the dye inside.
Question: A dyed sample is Pasul because dying must be Lishmah! (These are not independent laws)!
Answer (Rav Ashi): Indeed, the second law is merely the reason for the first. We learn only two laws.
Tana'im argue about the third law;
(Beraisa - R. Chanina ben Gamliel): If a sample was dyed in a pot, all the remaining dye is Pasul, for it says "Kalil Techeles." (Rashi - we require Kol (all the strength of the) Techeles. Nothing may be dyed previously with it. Tosfos - some of the dye absorbed in the sample, which was Lo Lishmah, is reabsorbed into the pot. The verse discusses Bigdei Kehunah; the same applies to Techeles in Tzitzis.)
R. Yochanan ben Dehavai is Machshir, for it says "u'Shni Tola'as." (We read this like Sheni, a second-hand absorption of red dye. The same applies to Techeles.)
(Beraisa): This is no way to check Techeles. We must buy it from an expert (who knows that Kala Ilan is invalid);
Tefilin can be checked (for missing or extra letters). Even so, we must buy them from an expert (who knows that the hide must be tanned Lishmah);
Seforim and Mezuzos can be checked. We may buy them from anyone. (The hide need not be tanned Lishmah.)