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Tallitot

Articles about tallit

Tallit & Tefillin Bag

tallit (Prayer Shawl) and tefillin bags are both beautiful and practical to keep the tallit (Prayer Shawl) in. The bags are decorated with much color and in various techniques, including hand and machine embroidery, raw silk appliqué, embroidery on velvet bags, etc. The variety of patterns includes depictions of the city of Jerusalem, patterns of pomegranates, flowers, and other Jewish motifs.

 

Atarah / Neckband

The atarah is a decorated neckband commonly embroidered at the head of the tallit and aimed to prevent the user from confusing the tallit’s upper and lower sides and placing the front tzitziot at his or her rear. Some have developed the custom of adding an atara made of embroidered silver threads, in order to glorify the mitzvah of donning the tallit.

tallit neckbands are produced from the same materials used to decorate our tallitot: raw silk appliqué and hand embroidery.

We will be happy to combine a neckband of your choice in one of our tallitot.

The Tzitzit / Fringe

The commandment of tzitzit is one of the 613 mitzvahs in the Torah. According to this mitzvah, he who has a garment with four corners (knafot) must have four groups of fringes attached to the garment, one to each of the corners.

 

The Origin of the Mitzvah

The commandment to wear tzitzit appears in the book of Numbers, 15:38-39:

“Speak unto the children of Israel, and tell them that they make them fringes (tzitziot) in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe (tzitzit) of the borders a chord of light blue. And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring.”

 

How is the Tzitzit tied, and What are the 7-8-11-13 Knots?

The obligation to make a knot using four threads (ptilim, the word tzitzit signifying a group of dangling strings, as in a braid, which can be seen as a tzitzit on one’s head), that are interwoven into the four corners of a garment possessing four angular corners or more appears in Talmudic traditions. A garment possessing rounded ends, or less than four corners, is exempt from the commandment of tzitzit. It has been decided in Halacha that the threads of the tzitzit must be threaded through a hole at each end of the cloth and then multiplied by two, so that eight threads will be produced (one of which is longer than the others and is referred to as shamash). The threads should then be tied in a double, well fastened knot. The shamash is then wound around the other threads and additional knots are tied. There are various customs regarding winding and tying knots, but the two most common call of four groups of 7, 8, 11 and 13 or 5, 6, 5 and 10 windings, with knots tied in between them and at their end. All in all there are five knots in the tzitzit.

Choosing the Size of Your Tallit

The size of a tallit is first and foremost a matter of personal choice. It changes from one to another, according to a person’s own wishes and preferences. Most tallitot vary in length, and have a standard width running between 72″-80″.

A person wishing to drape the tallit over his or her shoulders in a manner similar to wearing a shawl will often choose a size 72/18″ or 72/24″. Should one prefer to have the tallit come down to the middle of his or her back, a length of 28″ or 32″ will probably be chosen. A tallit that is 36″ or 47″ in length will come down to a person’s knees, and a length of 50″-70″ will produce a tallit completely covering the Jewish believer, enabling him or her to fold the tallit over the shoulders. Such large tallitot appear as stately, noble gowns, and are often used in communal, festive prayers.

Tallit Sizing Tables

 

These sizing tables can assist you in choosing your preferable tallit size. The relation between size and height is based on extensive experience, but may not suit all preferences and tastes.

To wear your tallit in a manner similar to a shawl, use the following table:

Tallit Size (Width x Length, in inches) Approx. Height/Figure
10 x 45 3 Ft. – Little Child
18 x 64 5 Ft. – Bar/Bat Mitzvah
18 x 72 5 Ft. 6 In. – Tall Bar/Bat Mitzvah
22 x 72 Under 6 Ft. – Regular Adult
27 x 72 Under 6 Ft. – Large Adult
36 x 72 Under 6 Ft. – X-Large Adult
22 x 81 6 Ft. and Taller – Slim Frame
27 x 81 6 Ft. and Taller – Large Frame

To wear your Talit in the traditional style, use the following table:

Talit Size (Width x Length, in inches) Approx. Height/Figure
36 x 72 Under 5 Ft. – Bar/Bat Mitzvah
48 x 72 Tall Bar/Bat Mitzvah or Small Adult
52 x 72 Regular Adult
60 x 80 Large Adult and Chupah Size
72 X 84 X-Large Adult and Chupah Size

HOW TO WHEAR THE TALLIT

The blessing made over the tallit is “ברוך אתה ה’ אלוהינו מלך העולם אשר קידשנו במצוותיו וציוונו להתעטף בציצית” (Blessed be Thee, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has sanctified us in his commands and has commanded us to wrap ourselves with tzitzit). A Jew will begin saying the blessing prior to donning the tallit, and complete it while in the process of wrapping him or herself in it. While being put on, the tallit is used to cover the head and most of the body prior to being placed on the shoulders. Donning the tallit is done before putting on tefillin, in accordance with the Halachic principle of “frequent and infrequent – frequent first” (תדיר ושאינו תדיר – תדיר קודם): As the command to put on teffilin is not performed on Shabbat and holidays, as opposed to the command to put on tzitzit, which applies every day of the year, it has been deduced that the tallit precedes teffilin.

 

A tallit is usually produced of wool or silk. The top of the tallit commonly features an additional neckband (atara), in order to prevent the user from confusing the tallit’s upper and lower sides and placing the front tzitziot at his or her rear. Some have developed the custom of adding an atara made of embroidered silver threads, in order to glorify the mitzvah of donning the tallit.

 

Unlike the tallit used for prayers, a small tallit (tallit katan / ketana) is worn under a person’s upper garment, accompanying him throughout the day. This tallit, which also possesses four sides with tzitziot at their ends, is usually referred to simply as tzitzit. Among the Ashkenazi communities it is common that the act of donning the tallit katan is preceded by the blessing “… and who has commanded us with the commandment of tzitzit” (“”…וציוונו על מצוות ציצית”). Some are strict about keeping the fringes of the tallit katan outside their upper garment, in order to uphold the instruction of ‘seeing’, appearing in the Biblical verse: “And you will see it and remember all the commandments of God” (“וראיתם אותו וזכרתם את כל מצות ה'”, Numbers 15:39). In this verse, according to traditional interpretation, the Torah places the tzitzit as a daily reminder of the existence of Divinity, for the Jewish believer. According to tradition, whoever upholds the three commandments of tallit, placing teffilin and setting a mezuzah, will stay clear of all sin, since these commandments will be wrapped around him like a chord, keeping evil out.

Wearing a Tallit

The tallit is made of a densely knit fabric, usually either cotton or silk, and is decorated with patterns that can be of many shapes and kinds. The four tzitziot (fringes) at its corners express the Biblical commandment of wearing fringes, and form an inseparable part of the tallit.

A tallit is customarily worn for the morning prayer (Shacharit) of every day of the year, weekdays, Shabbat and holidays included. A tallit is also worn for the Musaf Prayer on Shabbat and holidays, and throughout the Yom Kippur prayers. The Public’s Delegate (shliach tzibur) commonly wraps himself in a tallit throughout the daily prayers (though not all communities are strict on this point regarding Mincha and Arvit prayers). The tallit plays a role on special events as well: The father of a newborn dons a tallit during his son’s Brit Milah (circumcision) ceremony, and in some communities a bridegroom wears a tallit under the chupah (wedding canopy), during the wedding ceremony. Finally, it is a common custom in Judaism to wrap the deceased in a tallit, for his burial.

The color of the threads (ptilim) on the sides of the tallit is traditionally a pure sky-color light blue (tekhelet), and white. In the past the light blue color was produced from the fluid of a particular species of shellfish (khilazon). After the color’s precise source was lost, the use of a light blue thread was stopped, and all tzitzit threads were hence white. In recent generations renewed attempts to produce the color tekhelet have taken place, and some believers have gone back to wearing a tallit featuring a light blue thread on each of its four sides.

There is no uniform age among all Jewish communities, after which it is accustomed to use a tallit: While Jews of Middle Eastern communities begin wearing a tallit at the age of religious majority (gil mitzvoth, 13 for boys), in Ashkenazi communities it is customary that a man must wear a tallit only after his wedding. It is quite possible that the more lenient Ashkenazi approach stems from the harsh economic situation experienced by the Jews of pre-modern Europe, which made purchasing a tallit for a family’s youth more difficult.