Tallit (The Prayer Shawl)

The corner fringes on this ritual garment remind the wearer of all the commandments in the Torah.

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For a video explaining how to put on a Jewish prayer shawl, scroll to the bottom of this article.

The tallit (tall-EET) or tallis (TALL-us) is a large rectangular shawl made of wool, cotton or synthetic fibers. In each of the four corners of the shawl are strings tied in a particular pattern, called tzitzit. The origin of the tzitzit is biblical; the practice is prescribed in Numbers 15. The precept is to put these strings on the four corners of one’s garment — in ancient tradition, with a single strand of blue as well–as a reminder of the duties and obligations of a Jew. Since we no longer wear four-cornered garments, the tallit is worn specifically to fulfill the biblical precept.

Traditionally, men wear a tallit during morning services; in non-Orthodox synagogues, many women also wear a tallit. In some Orthodox congregations, only married men wear a tallit.  One may see people gathering the tzitzit in their left hand and kissing them when the paragraph from the Torah referring to them is recited.

Women participating in a Rosh Chodesh worship service near the Western Wall in Jerusalem in 2013. (Michal Patelle/Women of the Wall)

READ: Gender Politics of the Prayer Shawl

Most synagogues have prayer shawls available for visitors to use during services. However, many people prefer to purchase their own prayer shawl. A wide variety are sold at most Judaica stores and on the Internet.

Before putting on the prayer shawl, it is customary to say the following blessing (for the Hebrew text, click here):

Baruch atah adonai
Eloheinu melech ha olam
Asher kidishanu b’mitzvotav
Vitzivanu l’hitatef b’tzitzit.

Blessed are you Lord our God
Ruler of the Universe
Who has sanctified us with your mitzvot
And commanded us to wrap ourselves in tzitzit.

Watch the video below for more on how to put on tallit:

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For a video explaining how to put on a Jewish prayer shawl, scroll to the bottom of this article.

The tallit (tall-EET) or tallis (TALL-us) is a large rectangular shawl made of wool, cotton or synthetic fibers. In each of the four corners of the shawl are strings tied in a particular pattern, called tzitzit. The origin of the tzitzit is biblical; the practice is prescribed in Numbers 15. The precept is to put these strings on the four corners of one’s garment — in ancient tradition, with a single strand of blue as well–as a reminder of the duties and obligations of a Jew. Since we no longer wear four-cornered garments, the tallit is worn specifically to fulfill the biblical precept.

Traditionally, men wear a tallit during morning services; in non-Orthodox synagogues, many women also wear a tallit. In some Orthodox congregations, only married men wear a tallit.  One may see people gathering the tzitzit in their left hand and kissing them when the paragraph from the Torah referring to them is recited.

Women participating in a Rosh Chodesh worship service near the Western Wall in Jerusalem in 2013. (Michal Patelle/Women of the Wall)

READ: Gender Politics of the Prayer Shawl

Most synagogues have prayer shawls available for visitors to use during services. However, many people prefer to purchase their own prayer shawl. A wide variety are sold at most Judaica stores and on the Internet.

Before putting on the prayer shawl, it is customary to say the following blessing (for the Hebrew text, click here):

Baruch atah adonai
Eloheinu melech ha olam
Asher kidishanu b’mitzvotav
Vitzivanu l’hitatef b’tzitzit.

Blessed are you Lord our God
Ruler of the Universe
Who has sanctified us with your mitzvot
And commanded us to wrap ourselves in tzitzit.

Watch the video below for more on how to put on tallit:

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