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Before we begin I would like to share a story with you. As you all know it is custom to say L'shem Mitzvoth Tzitzith (For the sake of the Commandment of Tzitzith) before we begin tying. And of course we are to have intention throughout the tying process.
It happened about 1984, my holy brother Rabbi David Hertzberg, came to me and told me that he had found in the Talmud Yerushalmi a discussion in which it was opined that there is a Brachah (Prayer) we are to say prior to tying the Tzitzith. I asked him what the Brachah was, and he responded according to the language of the Talmud; "...asher kiddishanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu la'asot tzitzith (who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded to make tzitzith). From the next day I began saying the Brachah when I tied my garments. Seven months later I was sitting with David in his Sukkah and I asked him, "Do you remember when you told me about the Brachah you found in the Yerushalmi, where exactly is it?" I was curious to see it "inside". David turned to me and looked at me like I was crazy. "I never told you such a thing!" he insisted. Turns out I dreamt it, and for seven months I was making those Brochot based on something I had dreamed.
Five and a half years later, still making the Brachah, I see David running at me like a maniac shouting "Reuven! Reuven! Today's your day! I found it! Here it is in the Talmud Yerushalmi just like you said, and even with the Brachah, exactly as you quoted it." Now, I am no Posek (one who makes rulings in matters of Halachah) and I will leave it to your discretion on whether or not to make the Brachah.
I will add one more thought. On rare occaisions when I am requested to make a garment with Tzitzith, but without Techelet, when I tie I say only L'shem Mitzvat Tzitzith since I am not really creating a 'complete' Mitzvah and feel it inappropriate to make the Brachah. Perhaps the two differing opinions in the Talmud refer to two different circumstances; one in which you tie with Techelet, and one in which there is no Techelet, unworthy of a Brachah.
All diagrams are drawn by Miriam Katz
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