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These commandments conveyed by God to Moses concern the "tzitzit", the fringes worn by men. Why does this pertain only to men? In these passages it says "speak to the children of Israel", not "speak to the men among the children of Israel."

Numbers 15:37 - And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

Numbers 15:38 - Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:

Numbers 15:39 - And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them ; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes...

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1 Answer 1

According to rabbinic sources, women, children, and slaves, are not required to fulfill any commandment which is classified as a "מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא" (mitzvat asei shehazman gerama), a positive commandment dependent on time:

וכל מצות עשה שהזמן גרמה אנשים חיבין ונשים פטורות, וכל מצות עשה שלא הזמן גרמה אחד אנשים ואחד נשים חיבין. (Mishna Kiddushin 1:7, Hebrew Wikisource)

And every positive commandment which is time-dependent, men are obligated and women are exempt. And every positive commandment which is not time-dependent, both men and women are obligated. (Mishna Kiddushin 1:7, English Translation, English Wikisource)

Tzitzit is considered a positive commandment dependent on time, since there is no obligation to wear tzitzit at night:

ר' שמעון פוטר את הנשים מן הציצית מפני שהיא מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא (Tosefta Kiddushin 1:10)

R. Shimon exempts women from tzitzit since it is a positive commandment dependent on time. (Tosefta Kiddushin 1:10, my translation)


ר' שמעון פוטר את הנשים ממצות ציצית שהיא מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא שהרי כסות לילה פטור מן הציצית (Yerushalmi Berakhot 3:3)

R. Shimon exempts women from the obligation of tzitzit which is a positive commandment dependent on time since night clothes are exempt from tzitzit. (Yerushalmi Berakhot 3:3, my translation)


ת"ר: איזוהי מצות עשה שהזמן גרמא? סוכה, ולולב, שופר, וציצית... (Bavli Kiddushin 33b, Vilna Edition, Hebrew Wikisource)

Our Rabbis taught: Which are affirmative precepts limited to time? Sukkah, Lulab, Shofar, fringes... (Bavli Kiddushin 34a, Soncino Translation)

Therefore, women are not obligated to wear tzitzit.

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It would be helpful to link to a source for "considered ... a positive commandment" and also to explain how his interpretation is derived from the Numbers text. –  ThaddeusB Aug 4 at 18:52
@ThaddeusB is that better? –  Inkbug Aug 4 at 19:01
Yes, but could you maybe provide an English translation of the Mishna/Tosefta/etc.? Most readers won't know Hebrew. –  ThaddeusB Aug 4 at 19:50
@Inkbug Citing the rabbinical sources is great! I think that Thaddeus wanted to tell you that if you could add a possible translation into English of these texts. ;) –  Paul Vargas Aug 4 at 20:53
Yes, leave the Rabbinic sources, even including the original Hebrew, but provide an English translation of them as well to aid the reader. –  ThaddeusB Aug 4 at 21:16

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