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The Jewish Prayer Shawl

The Jewish Prayer Shawl

The Tallit


The mitzvah of tzitzit is discussed in the third section of the Shema, which is recited during the morning prayers. Therefore, during the morning prayers it is customary to don a tallit gadol (“big tallit”)—a prayer shawl. Wearing a tallit is the ideal way to observe the mitzvah, for only in a tallit is the individual enwrapped in the garment.

In most Ashkenazi communities, men begin to wear the tallit only after marriage (and continue to do so even if they are widowed or divorced). According to Sephardic tradition, boys begin wearing a tallit at the age of bar mitzvah or even earlier.

In most communities, a person who is called up to the Torah for an aliyah—even if he is a bachelor or isn’t praying at the moment—dons a tallit out of respect for the congregation. Similarly, the chazzan always wears a tallit, even if he isn’t married, and even during the afternoon and evening services, when he is the only one who wears the tallit. On the other hand, many, including Chabad, do not follow this tradition.

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Discussion (3)
January 9, 2015
Special Prayer Insert Into Prayer Shawl, Where??
The local rabbi said there is a special prayer contained inside prayer shawls. Can you tell me where to look in my brother's prayer shawl to find it?
Greenbelt, MD
April 4, 2012
Tallit and Passover...
Being new to this I have many questions. One that has been on my mind as of late is: Being the head of the house (and married), do I wear my tallit during the Passover Seder?
Christmas, FL
October 23, 2011
The Jewsh Prayer Shawl
I really enjoy your articles. They are helping me for my studies and training. I have a question. Can a non-jewish person wear a tallit during services?
Thank you in advance.
Mr. Alex Linares Klein