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Shema: Tzitzit 1

The third paragraph speaks of the commandment of Tzitzit (“fringes”). Tzitzit are “lights” that illuminate and reveal our fully expressed personality


Generally clothes cover you up. You can be a flamboyant person, but if you don’t want anyone to know, you will dress only in dark conservative suits. You can hide your personality in your clothes, or you can express it—but only part of it—with your clothes. Imagine a teenager, who dresses in punk, she is expressing her personality, but only part of her personality. There are so many other aspects of her personality that are not being expressed. You can’t express all parts of your personality at one time. A fully expressed personality is called a “personality of light.”

The function of the Tzitzit is to channel and express light. And to remind us not to do things that hurt our light. For instance, there is a verse in this paragraph, which says, “you shall not turn after your hearts and after your eyes after which you stray.” “After your hearts” refers to thoughts of heresy. “After your eyes” refers to sexual misdeeds. “After which you stray” refers to idol worship. Here we acknowledge that these drives are part of us and that we need a reminder to keep them in check.

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