The Opinion of Rabbenu Yerucham Regarding Sewing Within Three 'Fingers' of the Edge of a Talis
The Halacha in the Above Case
A Practical Solution
The opinion of Rabbenu Yerucham regarding sewing within three fingers of the edge of the talis
According to Rabbenu Yerucham, both Rashi and Rav Amrom Gaon agree that sewing within three 'fingers' from the edge warrants concern that a leftover string may be used as tzitzis. According to both, the problem arises only when reattaching a corner that had come off completely, and is limited to sewing that is done with a string that could qualify as a tzitzis. This opinion is not cited in Shulchan Aruch but is quoted by the Chazon Ish.
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The halacha in the above case
L'chatchila, one should conform to both opinions and only repair ripped corners (as opposed to corners that came off completely) using thread that is not acceptable for tzitzis. The halacha, however, follows the second approach to understanding Rav Amrom Gaon - that the problem is reattaching a corner with the tzitzis still intact -- and this opinion can be relied on in a b'dieved situation. Additionally, it is possible that Rashi would hold that even if the sewing is forbidden l'chatchila, the tzitzis are kosher bedieved if they were sewn.
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A practical solution
To avoid potential problems, it is advisable (and customary) to attach a patch to each corner that is larger than three fingers by three fingers and free of stitching. There are those who use cotton thread to reinforce the tzitzis hole of a cotton garment in contravention of Rashi's opinion. Since nowadays all tzitzis strings are made from wool, no one would accidently count a strand of cotton thread as tzitzis.
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A talis which tore within the space of three fingers along its edge may not be repaired.
According to Rashi there is a concern that if a garment is repaired within three fingers from the edge, the tailor may leave a thread that will be combined with seven other strings as tzitzis. The initial string is not valid for tzitzis because of ta'aseh v'lo min ha'asuy.
According to Rav Amrom Gaon, the issur applies to replacing a small piece of cloth-less than three fingers-that became detached from the talis. Such a piece is considered a scrap even after it is attached to the garment and is disqualified from having the tzitzis attached to it.
The size of the talis required to have tzitzis
The meaning of 'to cover the head and most of a minor's body'