Colorful, classic in stripes, in wool or silk, the tallit is an essential piece for anyone who wishes to observe Judaism and lead traditional Jewish life. It is a Jewish prayer shawl that comes with twined and knitted fringes, also known as Tzitzit, attached to each of its four corners. Now that we have defined what it is, let’s discuss why we wear it, the difference between Ashkenazi and Sephardic talit styles and how do you wear it.
Why do we wear a talit?
Tallit Gadol VS tallit Katan
For morning services in synagogue, talit gadol should be your choice. Large in size and made of wool or silk in white, with black, blue or white stripes at the end, it is to be worn over the shoulders. This rectangular fabric is made to display the tzitzit, and you will find it available in magnificent decorations of embroidered biblical scenes, or Jewish symbols such as Tree of life, Star of David or pomegranates.
Tallit katan, small tallit, is worn as an undergarment beneath the shirt, preferably not touching the body. It is mostly worn by Orthodox men at all times.
This white tallit with tree of life will be perfect for synagogue attendance on Jewish holidays
Ashkenazi VS Sephardic Tallit
Wearing a Tallit after the wedding is a tradition in Ashkenazi communities, whereas, in Sephardic communities, right after Bar Mitzva at the age of 13, when the young Jewish boy comes of age.
White talit with black stripes is a popular choice within Ashkenazi Jews
White with white stripes talit is popular choice among Sephardic Jews
While talitot are available in synthetic materials and in silk, according to Halacha, the woolen talit is Kosher for all occasions and will always be a classic option.
How do I wear a tallis?
The tallis must be large enough to cover the shoulders and reach the feet. Firstly, you must unfold the tallit and put it on over the head, so it rests on in and cover the shoulders, revealing its full size and beauty. Secondly, you fold the edges on your shoulders only. The Attarah should be faced upwards and don’t forget the tallit prayer before putting it on!
My Jewish Learning has a great clip wearing a tallit guide, taking you live step by step in this adventure.
So, now you know everything about tallitot and their meaning, you might also be interested in learning about another Jewish symbol and essential piece, the shofar! From its significance in Jewish holidays, to how to blow it and clean the shofars.