Ask the Rabbi - Customs and Practices

Bnai Noach and tzitzit

Shalom Rabbi, I have a rather lengthy question.

I’m a noahide living in the US, and I attend service on a military base. I asked the Jewish Chaplain on post (who’s actually Orthodox believe it or not) if I could wear tzitzit, under the understanding that I intend to keep a “kosherish” life (ie not eat at McDonalds or anything lol) and may one day convert entirely. To my surprise he told me I could, as long as I recognized that I’m not doing it with the mentality that I’m commanded to do so, and he said that I won’t be rewarded for upholding the mitzvot in Olam Haba as a Jew would be. Honestly that part doesn’t concern me so much. Being allowed to wear them at all is reward enough for me right now; I love doing Jewish things 🙂

What concerns me is that despite his “approval” I noticed many Orthodox Jews seem to disagree. I honestly don’t think the congregants here would find any problem with me wearing something like that, and they know I’m not Jewish. And funnily enough, I know that the Rambam technically allows for this, although recommends not doing so out of practicality, or doing something like tucking them in. Mainly because of being mistaken for a Jew in a non-kosher environment. So I’m wondering if this would be OK. I was thinking of buying some “tzitzit” fringes online from one of those hebrew-christian stores. OK hear me out here… They would be custom colored. Rainbow pattern to be specific. To represent the Noahic Covenant. Instead of the traditional white-only or blue and white fringes. The website call them kosher, but I’m questionable of that. If anything, I think that if they happen to be non-kosher, that should also solve the “lishmah” issue some people are worried about. Here’s a link to what they look like:

What do you think? Is this an appropriate alternative? I’m well prepared to explain myself to anyone who happens to be curious why I’m wearing those colors. Or could/should I wear the normal tallit katan that Orthodox Jews wear (again the community knows me, i would be careful not to wear them in a non kosher place, and besides I’d really like to convert one day any way). Or was my rabbi totally wrong in thinking that it’s OK for me to wear tzitzit at all? Input is greatly appreciated!

Noahide World Center

In response to the spiritual and value-driven demand for the word of God to be disseminated by the nation of Israel to all of mankind, we have established “Brit Olam – the Noahide World Center” in Jerusalem. We are in constant contact with many people all over the world who have a strong desire to learn the words of God.

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    1. This was the reply I received from R. Hollander in an email I sent him last year asking the same question: “is it acceptable for non-Jews to wear tsit-tsit?”:

      His response:

      “Yes, it is. About 15 years ago a non-Jew spoke with Rabbi Schwartz about this: he was wearing tsit-tsit which were visible, and a black Kippah, and looked like a Hareidi Jew. Rabbi Schwartz said that he could be mistaken for a Jew, and therefore should not wear tsit-tsit where they are visible. The man responded: but the Torah says that one should see them!
      Rabbi Schwartz told me of this conversation, and we asked some other non-Jews for their thoughts. One came up with this idea: The Jews wear a blue thread, and the non-Jews wear tsit-tsit with strings of different colors, reminiscent of Noah’s rainbow. I said that this was a lovely idea, BUT in San Francisco it would be misunderstood. A woman in the USA later sent me a sample of tsit-tsit colored olive, reminiscent of the olive branch which the bird brought Noah.
      So the answer is YES, and it should be done in a way that would not cause people to think the man is a Jew.
      God Bless You!
      Rabbi Yeshayahu Hollander”

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