After many years of being ignored, the neckerchief is once again a popular part of the Scout uniform.
Back when I was a young Scout, a we always wore a neckerchief with uniform.
They were 100% cotton and pretty sturdy, and we used them as bandages when practicing first aid (or for real), hot-pads at the cooking fire and signal flags.
Some troops had the custom of wearing the ends of their neckerchiefs tied in a slip knot. In the early days of Scouting, up to the 1950s, the slip knot in your neckerchief reminded Scouts to Do a Good Turn Daily – just like the knot tied to the bottom of the scroll on the First Class badge. When a Scout had done his good turn for the day, he untied the knot.
One night Mr. Pedlar, our district executive, visited our troop meeting, and saw me with a knot in my neckerchief. I wore it that way because I thought it was cool. He said, “When I was a boy, if I’d shown up at a troop meeting with a knot in my neckerchief, my Scoutmaster would have sent me back outside and told me not to return until I’d done a good deed.”
Our parsha this week, Shelach, has a similar reminder of good deeds.
God tells Moses to that they shall make tzitzit on the corners of their garments, “that you may see it and remember all the mitzvotof God and perform them.” Numbers 15:39 The numeric value of the word tzitzit is 600. One set of tzitzit on one corner of a tallithas eight strands and five knots, coming to 13. Together, the numbers are 613, just like the 613 mitzvot. So, as the Torah says, we wear the tzitzit and remember all the mitzvot.
We frequently see tzitzit on a person’s tallit. Many boys and men wear tzitzit under the shirt they wear during the day and some wear them under their pajama shirt, so they have the reminder with them at all times. Whenever someone wears tzitzit, it is not only a reminder to do mitzvot, but also a connection to our people over the generations.
Sort of like a neckerchief is a connection with past generations of Scouts. But with the tzitzit, after you’ve done the good deed, you leave the knots tied.