Rav SR Hirsch, Symbolism of Tzitzis – Relationship ep. 13
The Beyond Meaningful Relationships – Relationshipful Meaning series at the kloiz meets on Wednesday nights at 8pm EDT.
Even if you missed the discussion so far, next week is a great time to start! We will be beginning a study of Rav Shlomo Wolbe’s Olam haYedidut – The World of Affection! Come join us, 8pm June 29th!
Wednesday night (June 22nd, 2022) we concluded (for now) our discussion of the parts of a person — body, mind and soul, and the aspects of the soul that addresses each — nefesh, ruach and neshamah, by discussing Rav Hirch’s symbol system and how it relates to the three Pillars, the three Crowns, and the three aspects of the human soul.
Rav Hirsch notes that there are three colors named in Biblical Hebrew, the primary colors of adom (red), yaroq (yellow and green), and tekheiles (blue and purple). Adom being the earthiest, closest on the rainbow to the adamah (the earth) and tekheiles at the high end of the spectrum, least impacted by the physical, closest to the heavens beyond. Similarly, he explains that when the number six, as in the six days of creation, appears in nevu’ah or halakhah, it is a reference to the physical world. The seventh completes the week, by indicating the holiness that is within the world. And eight goes beyond, starts again at the next octave, hinting at the Jewish calling to bring the messianic age, the “new heavens and new earth” of Yeshaiah’s nevu’ah.
And so, in tzitzis, we take the physical forces represented by the six non-winding strings, and bind it with the seventh and the eighth. And it is the eighth string, the one beyond nature, that the Rambam rules is the sole tekheiles one.
Although he doesn’t use this terminology, to Rav Hirsch tzitzis is about using our mental and heavenly callings, our ruach and nefesh, to obtain mastery over the more physically concerned nefesh.
So that we can find reminders of these ideas when we observe Shemini Atzeres — a special day just between Hashem and the Jewish People, or attend a beris on the eight day. When we note that Shabbos and Shemittah are on the seventh, but Shavuos and Yovel are at the beginning of an eighth, when we learn about the colors of the kohein gadol‘s clothing or the curtains, roof, and storage of the Mishkan.
The resource sheet for Rav Hirsch’s essay on the symbolism of tzitzis is on Sefaria at https://www.sefaria.org/sheets/409461
To summarize our look at the three-ness inherent in the anatomy of the human soul:
Relationship to Soul
|Relationship to Hashem
|Relationship to Others
|Sustains the world
|… gives the world value.
|… for it was created liKhvodi
|… causes Hashem’s Chessed to the world
|Yaaqov/Yisrael as Synthesis
Rivqa’s two bracelets of 5 gold each
|Sefer haYetzirah “Mother Letters”
|Element as Middah
|Passion / “Hislahavus“
|Calm / Unity
in relating to other people
|Protecting Torah / Anshei Keneses haGdolah
|Establishing many students
|Diligence in Law
|Making a siyag laTorah
(i.e. morality rather than precise Law)
(Synthesis or Dialectic)
|Truth / Law
|Peace / Lovingkindness
|Aspect of Soul
|Time of Life (paired with desires)
|Time of Night
|Middle – the dog barks (demanding “hav hav!”)
|Near Dawn –
The baby nurses, the wife talks with her husband
|Near Sunset –
The Donkey Brays
|Children of Adam & Chavah
|Sheis (bidmuso betzalmo)
|“In the Air” /
the world between our ears
|Liver / Groin
green & yellow
blue & indigo
|Adom – red – earth
|7 & 7th
|8 & 8th
|Micha’s Miqdash Speculation
|Crowns (simple take)
|Crowns (according to Maharal 4:13)
|Kingship – in the soul’s ability to rule mind and body
|Kehunah as the sanctification of the physical
(see the Maharal, Avos 1:2)
(deducing from the Gra)