Tallit: Jewish Symbol
Judaism, one of the world’s oldest religions being practiced today, has several traditions, most of them stemming from text and prescriptions in the Hebrew Bible. One of their important traditions is the use of the tallit, or the Jewish prayer shawl. The tallit is one of the most iconic Jewish symbols, considered by many as one of the most authentic Jewish garments. The use of tallit further proves that the Jewish indeed has a deep faith and respect for their religious tradition.
The tallit is mainly used today as a prayer shawl, used normally by men when they recite the Shacharit, or their morning prayers. Jewish men also use tallits during Sabbath (or their day of praise) and during religious holidays. While not practiced by all Jewish communities, the talit is usually given by the father as a gift to the son, or by the teacher as a gift to the student, during the Bar Mitzvah. The tallilot is worn once the man reaches the age of 13, the age when a Jewish male is considered to have come of age and when they celebrate their Bar Mitzvah. At the age of 13, the Jewish male is respected to be responsible for their actions, and one of the implications here is the use of the tallit, which represents their awareness of the Jewish commandments.
This is because, basically, the tallit is worn as a reminder of their commandments. This is in accordance to one of the verses in the book of Numbers in the Hebrew Bible, saying the Israelites (who are Jewish) should wear fringes on their clothes’ corners. These fringes, according to the verse, shall by the reminder that they should observe the commandments so they should not follow their heart and eyes due to lustful urges.
These fringes are called the tzitzit. Before, they were placed, as the verse said, on the corners of everyday clothes. However, today, that is no longer possible; clothes today no longer have four corners. So as time progressed, the tzitzit was placed on the tallit. The tzitzit can also be found in other pieces of clothing, such as the tallit katan, which is a Jewish undergarment.
The tallit as it is known today is only used during the day, in accordance to the verse that the wearer of the talit should be able to see the fringes. This has been interpreted as one should only use it when the tzitzit is seen with the light of the day. Tallits are also personal by the Jewish. When a non-Jewish visitor goes to a Jewish temple, they are asked to wear prayer shawls. However, these shawls are not tallits, since the use of tallits are considered sacred, saved only for men who have reached the proper age.
As with tradition, however, the use of the tallit or the tallis can change according to communities, among other factors. For one, while majority of the Jewish wear tallits when they reach 13, some wear it in a much later date. Some communities also do not allow women to wear the talis, while some do. Nonetheless, the use of the tallis remains to be a precious tradition for the Jews.