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No matter how you spell it a Tallit, Tallis, or Tallith is a prayer shawl with which the worshipper is wrapped during prayer used during the morning prayers on all weekdays as well as on Shabbat and the holidays. Read more about the origin of the Tallit, traditions of wearing the tallit, and the variety of Tallits below and remember that donning a Tallit from Israel gives the special feeling whenever you do it. The Tallit shown here is by Yair Emanuel one of the leading Israeli judaica artists.
Tallit is the garment with which the worshipper is wrapped while praying. The Tallit is also called praying shawl. The commandment originates from Numbers 15:38-39: Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of each border a cord of blue: So that, looking on these ornaments, you may keep in mind the orders of the Lord and do them; and not be guided by the desires of your hearts and eyes, through which you have been untrue to me. Originally these tassels were supposed to have some white and some sky-blue threads. Today as we have lost the tradition have to produce these sky-blue threads the Tassels are white. In Sphardi communities every man wears a Tallit since his Bar Mitzvah whereas the custom in most Ashkenazi communities is that unmarried men do not wear the Tallit. Before putting on the Tallit one has to say this blessing: ''Blessed art Thou, O Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who hast hallowed us by Thy commandments, and hast commanded us to enwrap ourselves in the fringed garment. The prayer shawl is worn for the morning prayer during the week, on Saturday morning, and on other holy days. Though the Tallit is not worn for afternoon and evening prayers there are three exceptions to this rule and a prayer shawl is worn at the evening services of Kol Nidre, Simchat Torah, and on special Friday evening services that include a Torah reading. To prevent the Tallit from falling off the shoulders a Tallit clip is often used. TO SEE ONE OF THE MANY ISRAELI TALLITS WE CARRY, PLEASE FOLLOW THE LINK.
See an example
Choosing a Tallit
When choosing a Tallit for you or as a gift we have to decide on three elements: Material, Design, and Size. Material of the Tallit: The more classic Tallits are made of wool or a blend of materials with striping in different colors. The Tallits were hand woven and the design varied according to thickness of the thread used and the colors chosen for the stripes. Today many other materials like silk and synthetics are used by themselves or in combination with wool and almost exclusively machine woven. Of course the rules of Shatnez are observed when using blended materials for a Tallit. In our Israeli Tallit collection you will find wool Tallits, synthetic Tallits, silk Tallits or any combination of those. The Tallits are hand woven, printed, hand-painted, and adorned with machine or hand embroidered. Whichever Tallit suits your personal taste will also be the right one. Design of the Tallit: As long as the Tallit has four fringes, Tziziot, at the corners all the rest of the Tallit design is secondary and based on the imagination and talent of the artist. You may prefer to choose a traditional design with stripes or look for more elaborate one that may integrate other Jewish motives into the Tallit design such as Menorah, Star of David, and more. The classical design of a Tallit used to be stripes in many different combinations with a designs range from monochrome to multicolored strips for the daring man. Today the design range is almost endless. You will find designs of Tallits that are painted, woven, embroidered, or applied onto the Tallit. Color selection is also endless and though mostly a white or eggshell color is used for the background to find Tallits in red, blue, or even black is not uncommon. The design itself is inspired from different aspect of life and tradition. Some Tallit artist use scenes from the Bible when creating a Tallit: From the patriarchs to Noah's Arc and from the seven species to Judaic symbols as the Menorah, Star of David or the Shofar can be seen integrated into the design. The Atara, neckband and the four corners where the Tzizit is are also elements that are decoratively treated and integrated into the overall design of the Tallit. Size of the Tallit: The Tallit size is a personal preference. Most Tallit artist make their Tallits, prayer shawls, using material that measures 72'' up to 80'' in width when spanned across from arm to arm. The length of the Tallit down the back, on the other hand, is where sizes vary. Size of a Tallit from18'' to 24'' will allow you to wear a prayer shawl as a scarf draping over the shoulders but if you like it going half way down your back then a width of 28'' to 32'' will be right for you. A Tallit, prayer shawl that measures 55 -70'' will go down the length of one's body and allow lifting the prayer shawl on either arm over the shoulders.
Blessing for wearing the Tallit
Upon donning the Tallit one has to Stretch the tallit before him, holding it with both hands, and recite this blessing: Baruch Ata Ado-noi Eloheiynu Melech haolam, asher kidshanu bemitzvotav vetzivanu lehitatef batzitzit. Blessed art Thou, O Lord our G-d, King of the universe, who hast hallowed us by Thy commandments, and hast commanded us to enwrap ourselves in the fringed garment.
We often reflect on why a woman needs a Tallit. When attending an orthodox synagogue we will see that the men are all wearing prayer shawls, Tallits. But in the Conservative as well as in Reform synagogues the picture is totally different. As both movements are absolutely committed to the full implementation of principles of equality they feel that women, just like men, can and should wear a tallit. Over the generations and due to women's unique role, women were exempt from any Mitzvah which has a time contingency like wearing a Tallit. Yet though women are exempt from all these Mitzvot there was never an explicit prohibition of women atoning a Tallit. Today many women perform many Mitzvot. We can find women hearing the Shofar, saying Shema and wearing a Tallit. To make wearing a Tallit for woman more attractive many designer started preparing Tallits with feminine look, using materials like silk, damask, and organza while adding lace and hand painted elements. One can explain that the exemption to wear a Tallit for women came to their heightened spiritual awareness so they do not require a constant reminder to observe the Mitzvot! They feel that for Hiddur Mitzvah, the beautification of the commandments, they should wear an exquisite women's Tallit made especially for women. Today many women feel that wearing a Women's Tallit makes them feel more committed and connected to Judaism and began to wear a Tallit for women and Kippah to further their expression of belonging and sharing in the community. It is thus that the women's Tallit become a significant part in the lives of many Jewish women. All of our women's Tallits are made in Israel by Israeli artists. The picture of the hand crafted woman Tallit attached is courtesy of Ronit Gur. To find the huge collection of hand crafted women's Tallit that will add to the sense of spirituality and elation while praying please go to the link below.
see women's Tallit