Make Your Own Tallit

December 1st, 2008

To create a tallit, you should first choose a cloth and determine the size of the tallit you will create. The traditional tallis usually extends from the top of the head up to the knees. However, less traditional tallits or tallitot can be shorter, some extending only up to above one’s buttocks. Of course, there are now shawl-type tallits or tallitot. You have determine which size you think suits you best, all the while considering the what type of tallis is accepted in your community or congregation. A number of congregations or communities are strict with the style of tallit, although most are usually very lenient. After all, the use of the tallit itself, as it is used now, is not part of the text from which the practice is based on. The size of the shawl-type tallit ranges from 8 by 47 to 28 x 71 inches.

As for the type of cloth, silk wool, and linen are traditional and popular materials used for the tallit. However, remember that wool and linen should not be combined, as the combination of animal fibers with plant fibers are forbidden. Hem the edges of the cloth to protect it from future wear and tear, then add designs according to your liking. Of course, remember that the tallit is primarily a religious garment, and anything that might seem offending should not be placed on the tallit. This is a matter of personal taste, but common sense, as always, should be practiced. But since the talit is a religious and sacred garment, it is best not to make the design scandalous; the simpler the design, the better.

The most important part of the tallis, however, is the tzitzit. The tzitzit is the fringe located at the four corners of the talit. There is a special way of tying the tzitzit, and a very specific explanation why the tzitzit is tied this way. To tie the tzitzit, pass four fine strands of thread through a hole on each of the cloth’s corners. This makes eight strands. These strands should be knotted five times, leaving around inches of fringe.

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