Shem's reward: Tallit with tzitzit

10th Oct 2021

Yesterday at our Shabbos table I asked my kids who knows where a tallit is mentioned in this week's parshah. The answer lies in Chapter 9, Verse 23. Based on a Midrash, Rashi asks why the verb at the start of the verse is in the singular form (ויקח) when seemingly it should be in the plural, since it refers to both Shem and Yefet.

The answer is that the Torah is teaching us that the deed is attributed more to Shem than Yefet, because Shem exerted himself more. 

As elucidated in Be'er Mayim Chayaim, for covering their father to guard his dignity, both were rewarded with a covering of dignity: Shem's offspring were rewarded with a garment with tzitzit (what we call a tallit today), while Yefet's offspring were rewarded with burial in Eretz Yisrael (see Yechezkel 39:11).