Tying Rambam tzitzit with techelet

 Tzitzit  Comments Off on Tying Rambam tzitzit with techelet
Oct 302013

We get a considerable number of orders for tallit and tallit katan products with Yemenite/Rambam tzitzit. Many of our customers who order Rambam tzitzit are the kind of people who are likely to tie themselves, but of course to tie Rambam you really need a “mori” to show you. I was taught by a Yemenite Jew who lives nearby and used to be in my IDF reserve unit. The truth is, although he was quite patient, I wasn’t able to replicate his knots very well. Then later I went to another Yemenite down the block, who showed me a technique I found much easier to pick up.

Recently I received an email message from an intrepid customer who wants to tackle Rambam tying on his own.

Dear Sir,
I bought your tekhelet tzitzit and was told by my Rav to tie them in the Rambam style.  I’ve looked at your videos and diagrams, and though I can get most of the way, I am a bit confused at tying the first chulya.  After watching some videos, I can follow the instructions laid out by tekhelet.com up to step 8, and after that, I begin to have issues.  This might be a weird question, but I would love if you could help me (perhaps over Skype) or show me another resource for tying the first chulya. I understand you’re busy, but my wife works in customer service and gets weird questions all the time, so my weird question is: Can you show me how to tie Rambam tekhelet tzitzit?  I’d be willing to reimburse you for your time.
Thank you,

I wish I could help CKM, but Rambam tzitzit tying is quite tricky, and obviously remote instruction only makes it harder. The problem with tying techelet according to the Rambam is that you have to get the middle chulyot tying down pat before you tackle the first and last chulyot, but of course you can’t get to the 2nd chulya without doing the first one. We posted a video on YouTube showing how to tie Rambam with all-white tzitzit, which is very helpful in learning how to do the basic Yemenite tzitzit knot. (Please be sure to “Like” it if you find it useful.)
Most tzitzit tie-ers I know do not make a single integrated knot for the first and last chulyot; instead they simply make the first chulya by making a white chulya with one winding and then a blue chulya with two windings nudging up against the white. For the last chulya some people do that inversed, but I do prefer to do a combined chulyah. I hold both the white and the blue, bring them around once, and then do another winding of just blue. Then to keep the blue in place while I tighten the white, I developed a technique of switching fingers from left pinkie to right pinkie to keep the blue taut until I’m finished with the white.
I realize these instructions are a bit hard to follow without me illustrating. I’ve been meaning to make a video on this for quite a while. Even if you can understand what I’m saying, there are certain fine points that should be demonstrated to ensure you don’t run into any entanglements.

Yemenite Tzitzit

 Tallit, Tzitzit  Comments Off on Yemenite Tzitzit
Feb 032013

Rambam Tzitzit - TecheletWhen I first decided to learn how to tie Yemenite tzitzit, it wasn’t easy. The online videos I watched were very hard to follow, so I went to a local Yemenite Jew and he taught me very patiently, but I didn’t really get the hang of it. Then I went to an Ashkenazi yeshiva bachur who wore Ptil Tekhelet which he tied according to the Rambam. He kept telling me that if I understood the logic behind the form of the knot, it would be easier, but I actually found the opposite to be true. And my knots still came out wrong. Finally I went to another local Yemenite. He taught me just as his father had taught him when he was a kid. The technique was easier for me to grasp and the knots started to come out right.

Rambam Tzitzit - WhiteIn recent months the number of orders we receive for Rambam tzitzit tying has gone up, so I tried outsourcing some of the work, but they kept tying the knots really close, which I feel is less aesthetic. It also leaves you with a very short tied section and a very long loose section.

Although tying according to the Rambam tzitzit tying method seems complicated, once you get it down pat I find it to be less time-consuming than Sephardic tzitzit tying, and certainly Chabad tzitzit tying. Of course if you are tying with techelet strings, things get more complicated.

Ptil Tekhelet – Rambam 7

 Tzitzit  Comments Off on Ptil Tekhelet – Rambam 7
May 092012

Those who start tying Rambam tzitzit – both if you are tying techelet tzitzit or all white – may be undecided whether to tie 7 chulyoth or 13. The Gemara states very clearly that seven is the minimum and 13 is the maximum. Some poskim hold that 7 is the minimum and 13 is the ideal. According to Rav Avraham ben HaRambam, 7 is the ideal (see (Hamaspik L’Ovdei Hashem, ch. 33).

Rambam Tzitzit

Rambam tzitzit with seven chulyoth

I have tried to determine which number is predominant among Yemenite Jews who have a mesora for Rambam tzitzit (see here and here). From what I’ve gathered, it seems both are practiced, and there seems to be a division based on the region in Yemen.

Rambam tzitzit with 7 chulyoth

If you wear Ptil Tekhelet and you tie Rambam tzitzit with seven chulyoth, you will be left with a lot of tekhelet string to cut off. That’s why Ptil Tekhelet makes a set called “Rambam 7,” which is shorter.

If you tie Rambam tzitzit, don’t forget that the tied section of the tzitzit must be at least 4 etzba’ot (8-9.6 cm, depending on which opinion you follow). If you tie the chulyoth too close together, they will come out to less than 4 etzba’ot. Of course with thin tzitzit, it’s harder to make the tied section long enough.

On the other hand, if you tie Rambam tzitzit with 13 chulyoth you have to be sure you space them close enough to one another so that you wind up with the hanging section (referred to in halacha as the anaf) is at least two-thirds the length of the section with the chulyoth.

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Yemenite Tzitzit

 Tzitzit  Comments Off on Yemenite Tzitzit
May 052011

I recently came across a product labeled “Yemenite Tzitzit” on one of the leading online tallit shops. This sounded peculiar to me. There is such a thing as Sephardic Tzitzits, which simply come with longer shamash strings for those who tie chulyot (loops) around each winding, but Yemenite tzitzits? What are Yemenite tzitzit? I asked a Yemenite talmid chacham in my neighborhood, and he was just as puzzled as I was.

I’ve concluded that this was simply a mistake by whoever added the product to that particular webstore. It could well be that the worker does not know the first thing about tzitzits.

Yemenite Tzitzit - Techeles

Techelet tzitzit tied according to the Rambam. Click on image to enlarge.

On the other hand, many people Google the term “Yemenite tzitzit,” presumably because they are interested in a Yemenite tallit katan with tzitzits tied according to the Yemenite custom, i.e. the Rambam, which is very distinctive. This tying custom is followed by Yemenites for white tzitzits and a number of non-Yemenites who start wearing techelet.

It took me quite a while to learn how to tie Yemenite tzitzit, but eventually I came across a technique that I found simpler to implement. Now I can tie the knots effortlessly. Normally we do seven chulyot on each corner, and 13 by request. Tying Rambam with techelet is more involved. The problem is that you really need to get the basic knot down pat before you start dealing with techelet, because the first and last knots have to include both white and blue.

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