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Miscellaneous Tzitzit Laws and Customs

Miscellaneous Tzitzit Laws and Customs

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  • If one is called up for an aliyah, and the entire congregation is waiting for him to don a tallit and ascend to the bimah (Torah reading table), the string inspection (see Donning Tzitzit or a Tallit) should be postponed until after the aliyah. Respect for the waiting congregation supercedes the need to inspect the tzitzit.
  • It is forbidden to fold a garment on Shabbat along its preexisting creases. Therefore, a tallit, which normally has well-defined fold lines, may not be properly folded after the Shabbat morning prayers. It is however permitted to fold it randomly, not on its creases.
  • It is forbidden to be in the presence of a dead Jewish body while one's tzitzit strings are out in the open. Doing so would constitute, so to say, a subtle mockery of the deceased who can no longer perform this mitzvah.
    One should therefore tuck his tzitzit into his pants when:
    a) Within a Jewish cemetery.
    b) In the same house as a body (even if the corpse is in another room).
    c) Within four cubits (approximately six feet) from a corpse or grave—unless it is outdoors and there is a wall or fence which separates them.
  • If the owner is not present, it is permitted to borrow and use a tallit without his knowledge, unless it is clear that the owner would be displeased. One can presume that the owner would be delighted that his possession is being used for the purpose of a mitzvah. The borrowed tallit cannot be taken out of the house where it was found, and it must be left in the same condition as it was found. (The tallit should not be refolded if it is Shabbat, even if it was neatly folded when it was found.)
  • It is customary for the (family of a) bride to purchase a tallit for the groom.
  • Ideally, one should have two tallits—one for weekday and one for Shabbat.
  • It is permitted to dispose of a used tallit or tzitzit, but it is improper to deface them. Although they are not "holy" articles per se, they were, after all, used for the purpose of a mitzvah. Ideally they should be buried together with other worn out holy articles and books (see Proper Disposal of Holy Objects). Some use worn out tzitzit fringes as book marks for holy books—they performed one mitzvah, now move them on to another!
Rabbi Naftali Silberberg is a writer, editor and director of the curriculum department at the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Silberberg resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife, Chaya Mushka, and their three children.
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Eliezer Zalmanov for Chabad.org January 18, 2016

Usually cutting a tallit will make it too small to be considered kosher. However, if you use parts of it to build two new ones around the original material, that might be an option.

One thing to keep in mind: the fringes (tzitzit) need to be tied after the garment is complete. So if you do decide to make two out of one, be sure that it is done by a someone that knows the laws, not just a regular seamstress. Reply

Carolyn Scott Fayetteville, NY January 15, 2016

I am a conservative Jew that has my grandfather's old tallit. My brothers and I have all been married under it as our chuppah. I have two sons to be Bar Mitzvahed in the next few years... Is it possible (kosher) to take parts of it to make them their own tallit and each have a part of their great grandfather to carry on? Reply

Jerome M. March 18, 2009

To Anonymous from Denver Did you see the last paragraph of the article (and the link it points to)? Reply

Anonymous denver, co March 17, 2009

Disposing how do I dispose of a torn tallit katan? Can I put in the garbage? Reply

Naftali Silberberg, Chabad.org Editorial Team April 23, 2008

Re: Folding a garment on Shabbat In the Code of Jewish Law (Orach Chaim 302) it is explained that this prohibition is because folding clothes on Shabbat has the appearance of "fixing a utensil." I.e. the unfolded garment is considered somewhat "broken," and folding it nicely is akin to fixing it. Reply

Anonymous April 22, 2008

It is forbidden to fold a garment on Shabbat along Why is it It is forbidden to fold a garment on Shabbat along its preexisting creases? Reply

This is no fringe mitzvah! The tallit and tzitzit serves as constant reminders of our obligations to G-d and our fellows.

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