"And these fringes will be tzitzit for you: you wiull see them and remember all G-d's commandments and do them . . . "

Parashat Shelach concludes with a passage, familiar from the recitation of the shema, outlining the mitzvah of tzitzit, i.e. of having fringes hanging from the corners of garments. Many interesting symbolic structures have been built out of the details of this mitzvah. My purpose in this dvar Torah is simply to share one such structure with you, that of Rav Meir Simkhah of Dvinsk in his Meshekh Chokhmah.

We begin with a name of God, Shin dalet yud, or Shakkai. The midrah interprets this as a contraction of "sheamar dai", "Who said enough". About what did He say enough, and to whom? The Midrash tells us that the world, as originally created, resembled two balls of thread unwinding perpendicularly to one another, like the warp and woof of a loom. G-d told these balls of thread to stop unwinding. For those of us with an interest in modern physics, the temptation to translate this as "G-d told the universe to stop expanding" is overwhelming. Rav Meir Simkhah, however, says that G-d told the universe to remain incomplete so as to leave room for human beings, through their free will, to complete it.

A kabbalistic koan: How does one see the invisible? By dressing it. G-d makes himself visible by weaving clothing for Himself, by weaving the world. Thus the universe resembles the warp and woof of a loom. Our clothing, then, is symbolic of the world G-d wove to manifest His presence. We are commanded, therefore, to let threads hang from our clothing, to make them appear unfinished, thus reminding ourselves that G-d left the world unfinished so as to grant us the opportunity to perfect it.