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Why do we wear the Tallit only for the morning prayers?

Why do we wear the Tallit only for the morning prayers?


When Abraham (then called Abram) defeated a group of armies that had conquered Sodom, and had taken his nephew Lot captive, the king of Sodom offered to Abraham all the recovered property as his reward. Abraham replied: "Not a thread nor a shoe-strap, nor shall I take anything that is yours; lest you say: 'It was I who made Abram rich.'"1 G‑d had promised to make Abraham wealthy,2 and Abraham did not want the king of Sodom to take the credit for this blessing which would come from G‑d.

The Talmud3 tells us that "as a reward for Abraham's statement, 'Not a thread nor a shoe-strap,' his children merited two mitzvot: the thread of blue [in the tzitzit] and the strap of the tefillin."

Our sages taught that our three Patriarchs instituted the three daily prayers; Abraham was the first to pray Shacharit (morning prayers), Isaac established Mincha (afternoon prayers), and Jacob originated the practice of Arvit (evening prayers).

This is one of the reasons why the tallit is worn exclusively during the morning prayers. Since we were given the mitzvah of tzitzit in Abraham's merit, we wear the tallit specifically for "his" prayer--Shacharit.

Visit our Tallit and Tzitzit section for more information regarding the Tallit and its associated customs.


Ibid. 12:2.


Sotah 17a.

Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson is a writer who lives with his family in Brooklyn, N.Y.
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Yosef ben Shimon September 6, 2017

If it's true that we wear the tallit specifically for Abraham's prayer--Shacharit, and we were given the mitzvah of tzitzit in Abraham's merit, why a tallit is worn for Selichos in Ashkenazic communities by the prayer leader and also worn at night on Yom Kippur? Please give us a straight answer. Thanks. Reply

Betty May 22, 2016

our rabbi and cantor wear tallits on Fridays as well. Why? Reply

Ariel Kokhav Yaakov, Israel March 11, 2015

Halacha This is an hashkafic answer, not an halakhic answer. The Rambam wrote in the laws of Prayer chapter 5 at the end of law 6:

דרך כל החכמים ותלמידיהם, שלא יתפללו אלא כשהן עטופין

It is the way for all Sages and their students to pray only when wrapped in a tallit.

As we see, the Rambam does not differentiate between Shacharit , Mincha or Maariv .


Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson (author) August 16, 2007

Re: Arvit In the portion of the Shema discussing the Tzitzit, we say "U'rietem Otam-and you shall see them," from which we learn that the obligation to wear Tzitzit is only during the light hours; not at night (see "The Proper Time for Tallit and Tzitzit," Therefore, one does not need to don a Tallit for the evening Shema.
Similarly, it is forbidden to wear Tefillin at night, for fear that one may fall asleep while wearing them. Therefore, Tefilin are not worn while saying the Shema in the evening prayers. Reply

Yosef ben Shimon September 6, 2017
in response to Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson (author):

So Rambam wrote forbidden laws? This answer repeats the same of the article, but do not answer the question about the meaning of what the Rambam wrote, which is very clear.

Roman Rice Kodiak, AK/USA August 16, 2007

Tallit At Arvit The Shema is also recited at Arvit and the Bedtime Shema. So why is tefillin not donned then as well? The Yemenites (Baladi and Dor Daim) have a custom to don the tallit during all the prayers. Reply

Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson (author) August 14, 2007

Re: Tefillin We wear Tefillin in the morning prayer because we must read the Shema in Tefillin, and in the morning prayer we say Shema.

This reason applies for wearing the Tallit in the morning prayer as well.
However, although many people wear Tzitzit all day and therefore do not neccesarily need to put on a Tallit for the Shema, they too don a Tallit for the morning prayer. Reply

Anonymous August 31, 2017
in response to Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson (author):

We also say shema in the evening. At least i do. Reply

Anonymous August 7, 2007

Why in the morning prayers? Dear Rabbi Baruch S. Davidson
Thank you for the explanation on "Why we do wear the Tallit only for the morning prayers?"
Is this the same reason we wear tefilin by shacharit, because tefilin are also in Abrahams merit? 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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