It’s been four years and one month since I started wearing tzitzit daily. A few times a year, I do a little check-up on my tzitzit practice here at The Shuckle.
The latest is actually a comment that I just wrote in response to a comment on this recent post about the TSA and tzitzit.
Isak BK Aasvestad asked:
Why do you refuse to wear s kippah?
Don’t you get weird looks from other Jews trying to figure out a guy who wears tzitzit out, but goes bareheaded? (I’m not saying that avoiding weird looks is a reason in itself to wear a kippah, but to me the two goes together like a horse and carriage…)
And my response was:
Reason #1: I hate being told what to do. No one will ever tell you to use this siddur, not that one you brought with you. No one will ever tell you that you can’t daven in this community or that community if you don’t have tzitzit on. There is no reason I can find as to why this ritual, out of all of the Jewish rituals out there, has become a line in the sand. Yet, kippot have come to occupy a bizarre emblematic place in Jewish life, which leads me to the second reason….
Reason #2: The kippah seems to occupy a mere symbolic place in Jewish life. Despite what everyone says about being reminded that God is above you, there is no consensus on the historical reason for kippot. I don’t like doing things for no reason. And if the only reason we can come up with is that kippot symbolize God’s location at a higher altitude than us, then I am not interested in engaging with this ritual. It becomes a theological absurdity.
And as for the notion that kippah and tzitzit are a natural pair, let’s consider first that they have no relationship whatsoever, except that both are articles of clothing. One is a biblical injunction, the other a minhag–albeit a minhag with tremendous traction. (But, given my distaste for the literal application of minhag hu halachah, I’m not interested.)
Isak, it is interesting that you think the two articles of clothing are tied together. Most Jews I meet think it’s totally ordinary–whether they think it good or not–to wear a kippah, but not tzitzit. So it’s normative, in the collective Jewish consciousness, to engage in a particular minhag, but to ignore a full-fledged law that bears a resemblance to the minhag. That brings me to my third reason….
Reason #3: Not only do I not think that there’s a whole lot in the discussion of tzitzit and kippot that makes no sense, but I also think that people have an obligation to point out things to make no sense. So, in wearing tzitzit, but no kippah, I am a living testament to why the whole thing makes no sense.
As an aside, on this historic occasion of my four-years-and-a-little-more-than-one-month anniversary, here is the best of my tzitzit-related blogging, starting with the post I wrote on the first day that I wore them: