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Question
What makes a tallis "kosher"? Can it have a design? painted? sewn on or sewn in? Attached? Can the "crown" be removed form my old tallis (from my Bar Mitzvah) and be put on a new tallis? Can the corner peices oalso be used?

Thank you.

Eric

Answer
Dear Eric,

Thanks for writing, and now that it is after Shabbat I can answer.

The only prohibited combination of cloth/material is mixing linen and wool. Some Jews will also have their materials checked to be sure than even accidentally wool and linen are not inadvertently mixed in the cloth.

Today a tallit can have virtually all kinds of designs, painted on, embroidered, even silver collars sewn onto the tallit.

I'm attaching below some materials that should be helpful. Otherwise, speak with a local Rabbi, and you might check I believe that it is the first volume of The Jewish Catalog, JPS.

Best wishes

Rabbi Dov


Encyclopedia Judaica 2007
TALLIT

TALLIT (Heb. טַלִּית, pl. tallitot; Yid. tales, pl. talesim), prayer shawl. Originally the word meant "gown" or "cloak." This was a rectangular mantle that looked like a blanket and was worn by men in ancient times. At the four corners of the tallit tassels were attached in fulfillment of the biblical commandment of *ẓiẓit (Num. 15:38–41). The tallit was usually made either of wool or of linen (Men. 39b) and probably resembled the abbayah ("blanket") still worn by Bedouin for protection against the weather. The tallit made of finer quality was similar to the Roman pallium and was worn mostly by the wealthy and by distinguished rabbis and scholars (BB 98a). The length of the mantle was to be a handbreadth shorter than that of the garment under it (BB 57b). After the exile of the Jews from Ereẓ Israel and their dispersion, they came to adopt the fashions of their gentile neighbors more readily. The tallit was discarded as a daily habit and it became a religious garment for prayer; hence its later meaning of prayer shawl.

The tallit is usually white and made either of wool, cotton, or silk, although *Maimonides and *Alfasi objected to the use of the latter. Strictly observant Jews prefer tallitot made of coarse half-bleached lamb's wool. In remembrance of the blue thread of the ẓiẓit (see *tekhelet ), most tallitot have several blue stripes woven into the white material (see Zohar, Num. 227a). Until a few decades ago, however, they only had black stripes.

Frequently the upper part of the tallit around the neck and on the shoulders has a special piece of cloth sewn with silver threads (called atarah, "diadem"), to mark the upper (i.e., the "collar") and the outer parts of the four-cornered prayer shawl. Some tallitot have the benediction, recited when putting on the tallit, woven into the atarah. Others, especially those made of silk, are often richly embroidered and some have the benediction woven into the entire cloth of the tallit. The minimum size of a tallit is that which would suffice to clothe a small child able to walk (Sh. Ar., OḤ 16:1).

The tallit is worn by males during the morning prayers (except on the Ninth of *Av , when it is worn at the afternoon service), as well as during all *Day of Atonement services. The ḥazzan, however, according to some rites, wears the tallit also during the afternoon and evening services (as does the reader from the Torah during the Minḥah prayer on fast days). Before putting on the prayer shawl, the following benediction is said: "Blessed art Thou, O Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who hast sanctified us by Thy commandments, and hast commanded us to wrap ourselves in the fringed garment." When the tallit is put on, the head is first covered with it and the four corners thrown over the left shoulder (a movement called atifat Yishme'elim, "after the manner of the Arabs"). After a short pause, the four corners are allowed to fall back into their original position: two are suspended on each side. On weekdays, the tallit is donned before putting on the *tefillin . Among strictly observant Jews, it was the custom to put on tallit and tefillin at home and to walk in them to the synagogue (Isserles, to Sh. Ar., OḤ 25:2). They also pray with the tallit covering their head; to be enfolded by the tallit is regarded as being enveloped by the holiness of the commandments of the Torah, denoting a symbolic subjection to the Divine Will (see also RH 17b). Generally, however, people pray with the tallit resting on their shoulders only. The kohanim, however, cover their heads with the tallit during their recital of the *Priestly Blessing . It is customary in the morning service to press the fringes to the eyes and to kiss them three times during the recital of the last section of the *Shema (Num. 15:37–41) which deals with the commandment of ẓiẓit (Sh. Ar., OḤ 24:4).

The custom of wearing the tallit differs in many communities. In the Ashkenazi ritual, small children under bar mitzvah age dress in tallitot made according to their size, whereas in the Polish-Sephardi ritual only married men wear  them (Kid. 29b). In most Oriental rites, unmarried men wear tallitot.

In *Reform synagogues , the tallit is part of the synagogue service garments of the rabbi and the cantor. For male congregants, the wearing of a small prayer shawl, resembling a scarf and worn around the neck, is optional. Those called to the reading from the Torah, however, always don a tallit.

In some communities, it is customary for the bridegroom to dress in a tallit during the *ḥuppah ceremony. It is likewise customary to bury male Jews in their tallit from which the fringes have been removed or torn (see *Burial).

The *ẓiẓit worn by men with their daily dress is known as *tallit katan ("small tallit").
BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Eisenstein, Dinim, S.V.; Gunzbourg, in: REJ, 20 (1890), 16–22; M. Higger, Seven Minor Treatises (1930), 31–33; D.B. Abramowitz, Law of Israel, 1 (1900), 11–16; G. Friedlander, Laws and Customs of Israel (1927), 5–7.
Source Citation   (MLA 7th Edition)
"Tallit." Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 19. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 465-466. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 1 Dec. 2012.


TALLIT

TALLIT (Heb. טַלִּית, pl. tallitot; Yid. tales, pl. talesim), prayer shawl. Originally the word meant "gown" or "cloak." This was a rectangular mantle that looked like a blanket and was worn by men in ancient times. At the four corners of the tallit tassels were attached in fulfillment of the biblical commandment of *ẓiẓit (Num. 15:38–41). The tallit was usually made either of wool or of linen (Men. 39b) and probably resembled the abbayah ("blanket") still worn by Bedouin for protection against the weather. The tallit made of finer quality was similar to the Roman pallium and was worn mostly by the wealthy and by distinguished rabbis and scholars (BB 98a). The length of the mantle was to be a handbreadth shorter than that of the garment under it (BB 57b). After the exile of the Jews from Ereẓ Israel and their dispersion, they came to adopt the fashions of their gentile neighbors more readily. The tallit was discarded as a daily habit and it became a religious garment for prayer; hence its later meaning of prayer shawl.

The tallit is usually white and made either of wool, cotton, or silk, although *Maimonides and *Alfasi objected to the use of the latter. Strictly observant Jews prefer tallitot made of coarse half-bleached lamb's wool. In remembrance of the blue thread of the ẓiẓit (see *tekhelet), most tallitot have several blue stripes woven into the white material (see Zohar, Num. 227a). Until a few decades ago, however, they only had black stripes.

Frequently the upper part of the tallit around the neck and on the shoulders has a special piece of cloth sewn with silver threads (called atarah, "diadem"), to mark the upper (i.e., the "collar") and the outer parts of the four-cornered prayer shawl. Some tallitot have the benediction, recited when putting on the tallit, woven into the atarah. Others, especially those made of silk, are often richly embroidered and some have the benediction woven into the entire cloth of the tallit. The minimum size of a tallit is that which would suffice to clothe a small child able to walk (Sh. Ar., OḤ 16:1).

The tallit is worn by males during the morning prayers (except on the Ninth of *Av, when it is worn at the afternoon service), as well as during all *Day of Atonement services. The ḥazzan, however, according to some rites, wears the tallit also during the afternoon and evening services (as does the reader from the Torah during the Minḥah prayer on fast days). Before putting on the prayer shawl, the following benediction is said: "Blessed art Thou, O Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who hast sanctified us by Thy commandments, and hast commanded us to wrap ourselves in the fringed garment." When the tallit is put on, the head is first covered with it and the four corners thrown over the left shoulder (a movement called atifat Yishme'elim, "after the manner of the Arabs"). After a short pause, the four corners are allowed to fall back into their original position: two are suspended on each side. On weekdays, the tallit is donned before putting on the *tefillin. Among strictly observant Jews, it was the custom to put on tallit and tefillin at home and to walk in them to the synagogue (Isserles, to Sh. Ar., OḤ 25:2). They also pray with the tallit covering their head; to be enfolded by the tallit is regarded as being enveloped by the holiness of the commandments of the Torah, denoting a symbolic subjection to the Divine Will (see also RH 17b). Generally, however, people pray with the tallit resting on their shoulders only. The kohanim, however, cover their heads with the tallit during their recital of the *Priestly Blessing. It is customary in the morning service to press the fringes to the eyes and to kiss them three times during the recital of the last section of the *Shema (Num. 15:37–41) which deals with the commandment of ẓiẓit (Sh. Ar., OḤ 24:4).

The custom of wearing the tallit differs in many communities. In the Ashkenazi ritual, small children under bar mitzvah age dress in tallitot made according to their size, whereas in the Polish-Sephardi ritual only married men wear them (Kid. 29b). In most Oriental rites, unmarried men wear tallitot.

In *Reform synagogues, the tallit is part of the synagogue service garments of the rabbi and the cantor. For male congregants, the wearing of a small prayer shawl, resembling a scarf and worn around the neck, is optional. Those called to the reading from the Torah, however, always don a tallit.

In some communities, it is customary for the bridegroom to dress in a tallit during the *ḥuppah ceremony. It is likewise customary to bury male Jews in their tallit from which the fringes have been removed or torn (see *Burial).

The *ẓiẓit worn by men with their daily dress is known as *tallit katan ("small tallit").
BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Eisenstein, Dinim, S.V.; Gunzbourg, in: REJ, 20 (1890), 16–22; M. Higger, Seven Minor Treatises (1930), 31–33; D.B. Abramowitz, Law of Israel, 1 (1900), 11–16; G. Friedlander, Laws and Customs of Israel (1927), 5–7.



ṬALLIT ():  1906

Mantle with fringes (ẓiẓit) at the four corners; a prayer-shawl worn over the garments, and used by men after marriage and, in modern times, by boys after their confirmation as "bar miẓwot." The ṭallit, which can be spread out like a sheet, is woven of wool or silk, in white, with black or blue stripes at the ends. The silk ones varyin size, for men, from about 36 × 54 inches to 72 × 96 inches. The woolen ṭallit is proportionately larger (sometimes reaching to the ankle) and is made of two lengths sewed together, the stitching being covered with a narrow silk ribbon. A ribbon, or, for the wealthy, a band artistically woven with silver or gold threads (called "spania"), with the ends hanging, and about 24 inches long by from 2 to 6 inches wide, is sewed on the top of the ṭallit. From the four corners of the ṭallit hang ẓiẓit, in compliance with the Mosaic law (Num. xv. 38 et seq.; see Ẓiẓit). The woolen ṭallit is preferred by the pious, especially if made of coarse and half-bleached lamb's wool from the Holy Land, when it is known as a "Turkish ṭallit." Woolen ṭallits are made in Russia also, but are finer spun and almost pure white. The silken ṭallit was formerly made principally in Germany; but of late several silk manufacturers in the United States (at Paterson, N. J.) have produced the bulk of the American supply.
Karaite Ṭallit and Bag.(From a photograph.)

The original ṭallit probably resembled the "'abayah," or blanket, worn by the Bedouins for protection from sun and rain, and which has black stripes at the ends. The finer ṭallit, very likely, was similar in quality to the Roman pallium, and was worn only by distinguished men, rabbis, and scholars (B. B. 98a; Gen. R. xxxvi.; Ex. R. xxvii.). The ṭallit of a "talmid ḥakam" extended to within a hand-breadth of the length of the bottom of his undergarment (B. B. 57b). The ṭallit was sometimes worn partly doubled, and sometimes with the ends thrown over the shoulders (Shab. 147a; Men. 41a).
Jew with Ṭallit.(From an illuminated maḥzor of the fifteenth century.)Jew with Ṭallit.(From a drawing by Alphonse Lévy.)

The most approved style of adjusting the ṭallit is the Turkish ("'aṭifat yishma'elim"), and is as follows: The scarf is thrown over the head with the middle point of one of the longer edges over the middle of the forehead and the left-hand end hanging over the left shoulder; the right end is then also thrown over the left shoulderso that all the four corners are upon the left side; a short pause is then made, and the corners are allowed to fall back in their original position, two corners suspended from each shoulder. The portion covering the head is next pushed backward, and may be removed entirely therefrom and made to rest on the back of the neck. The more modern style is to roll up the ṭallit like a scarf, put it round the neck, and let the ends hang from the shoulders (comp. Yalḳ., Ps. 723; Pesiḳ. R., ed. Friedmann, ix. 32a, note).

The cabalists considered the ṭallit as a special garment for the service of God, intended, in connection with the phylacteries, to inspire awe and reverence for God at prayer (Zohar, Exod. Toledot, p. 141a). The ṭallit is worn by all male worshipers at the morning prayer on week-days, Sabbaths, and holy days; by the ḥazzan at every prayer while before the Ark; and by the reader of the scroll of the Law when on the almemar. In earlier times the ṭallit was likewise spread over the canopy at the nuptial ceremony.

In the Talmudic and geonic periods the phylacteries were worn by rabbis and scholars all day, and a special ṭallit at prayer; hence they put on the phylacteries before the ṭallit, as appears in the order given in "Seder R. 'Amram Gaon" (p. 2a) and in the Zohar (Ba-Midbar, 120b). In later times, when the phylacteries came to be worn at morning prayer only, the ṭallit was put on first, after a special benediction had been recited. See Fringes.
Bibliography:

   Shulḥan 'Aruk, Oraḥ Ḥayyim, 8-24;
   David de Ginsburg, in R. E. J. (1890) xx. 16-22.

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Write to me with questions about Jewish customs and law, history, philosophy and tradition for answers from a Conservative perspective or conversion. I am a graduate of The Jewish Theological Seminary and a member of the Conservative Rabbinical Assembly. Having served in congregational pulpits since 1970, I now am President of the Foundation For Family Education, Inc. a non-profit educational endeavor. I established it to create new formats of hands-on programs and provide free educational downloads at www.jewishfreeware.org. In addition to general informational questions I welcome your questions about programs for social action, outreach to dual-faith families, inter-faith clergy projects, healing services, education for conversion, adult education for the congregation and the community. If you have questions about Informal and Formal Education I am ready to share my extensive experience with Youth Activities, Camping and Religious School/Hebrew High School on a congregational, community and national/international level.

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