Shopping online for a prayer shawl or tallit

February 11th, 2009

Shopping online for a prayer shawl or tallit is no different from shopping online for a perfume, article of baby’s clothing, or trawling eBay listings. It’s simply a matter of finding the right site for you that has a variety of prayer shawls that appeal to your taste.

The easiest way to begin is to use a major search engine such as Google or Yahoo! and enter a phrase that applies to what you are looking for. It is easy to think that that phrase might be simply “prayer shawl” or “tallit” however, if you know in what type of prayer shawl or tallit you are interested, then it will pay to use an appropriate descriptive word in your search term too as this will narrow down your search.

Possible search terms include “raw silk tallit”, “traditional tallit”, “designer prayer shawl” or similar. Should there be a specific artist or designer whose work you like, entering his or her name into the search engine along with the word “tallit” should return some results. Yair Emanuel is particularly popular. If, however, you don’t have any idea where to start then tallit or prayer shawl will be a good start.

There is a huge range of different types of tallitot available online, complete with photographs of the design of each tallit and a detailed description. Many of the sites that sell tallitot online also sell tallit clips, tallit bags, tefillin, and other religious accessories.

Another type of tallit that is highly sought after, is the hand painted tallit. Only a few artists specialize in this area, so it is worthwhile spending some time looking at the various sites returned on the search engine listings to see if one of them has what you want.

Another way to search online for your ideal tallit, is to make the most of Google’s “Image” directory. It is located above the word “Google” and next to the word “Web” at the top left hand corner of the page. Clicking on this will transfer you to the image directory and entering in the same search term “tallit” will return only pictures of tallitot. The advantage of this is that you can buy tallit with the design you like, click on it, and it will take you to the site displaying the picture.

Unfortunately, sometimes the picture will not be displayed by a shop but will be accompanying an article, in which case, you can save the picture to show to one of the online shops, to see if they have something the same or similar within their tallit and shofar collection, .

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Personalised Prayer Shawl Cards Do Make A Difference

February 11th, 2009

Prayer shawls, as with any gift you give, always benefit from a card accompanying them. Sometimes, it’s because the words within the card are particularly beautiful or because the image on the front is just very appropriate. Either way, prayer shawl cards can only enhance the gift of the prayer shawl, and provide more pleasure.

Although uniqueness and creativity are always welcomed regarding gifts, prayer shawl gift cards do tend to follow a certain trend. They often include images, paintings, or drawings of a person wearing a prayer shawl, a traditional morning prayer shawl otherwise known as a tallit, a tree signifying life, a sun and its rays to signify hope and a brighter future, and other similar optimistic designs.

Sometimes religious images may be featured on the front or center of your prayer shawl card, however, as not all people share the same religious views or beliefs, it’s generally considered a good idea to stay away from any image or wording that implies or suggests anything specifically geared to one religion. Equally, it is very important not to try to ‘convert’ your recipient as this will detract from the act of giving the prayer shawl in the first place.

The key is to remain positive without being condescending, provide hope without giving instruction, and to convey your sentiment without using clichés. Phrases such as “Every cloud has a silver lining” provide no comfort to distraught people.

If you are unsure as to what to write or need ideas, there are many sites online which will provide you with free templates of prayer shawl cards to use and other sites that sell pre-printed ones.

Particularly difficult are prayer shawl cards that accompany a prayer shawl made for charity where the recipient is unknown. In such cases, the wording should be upbeat and non-specific to allow for a variety of situations.

Generally, prayer shawl cards are not small rectangular tags like those you would attach to a birthday present. Instead, they are the type that opens up to contain an encouraging message. It is not necessary to write anything in addition to the printed message if you are uncertain as to what to write, though it is a nice touch if you do.
Matching your prayer shawl card to the colors of the actual prayer shawl itself is quite a common practice too.  Some Prayer Shawls come with Hamsa Hand design.

No matter how your prayer shawl is presented, or whether there is a card – matching or otherwise - or not, rest assured that your recipient will be overwhelmed by your efforts to make the prayer shawl in the first place.

mytalit Handmade Tallit

Unique Prayer Shawls

February 11th, 2009

Although tradition has always implied that a prayer shawl or tallit must have blue or black stripes woven, sewn, or painted on it, there is no bibilical law which states this. As a result, there is a growing market for unique prayer shawls filled with beautiful, colorful designs.


One of the more popular materials used in making unique prayer shawls is silk. Advantages to using silk for making prayer shawls over other materials, is the dexterity with the amount of detail. Silk shawls also portray colors vividly, which gives them a unique appeal.


Sometimes, a combination of silk and cotton is used to make a prayer shawl. In such cases, the tallit or prayer shawl is made from woven cotton onto which silk that has been painted by hand is sewn. Using a similar method, but completely with silk is the raw silk applique’d prayer shawl.


Other combinations of materials used to make prayer shawls include embroidered silk on cotton, woven raw silk, and wool. It should be noted that it is forbidden for a prayer shawl to be made from a combination of linen and wool.


Unique prayer shawls nearly always come with a matching prayer shawl bag in the same design and colors. Not only a way to carry the prayer shawl, a bag to protect it is a sign of respect and a way to show that respect.


There are several artists that specialize in creating unique prayer shawls. Designs by Yair Emanuel, Akiva Lamy, and Ronit Gur, very well-known artists from Israel, are particularly in demand. Images featuring on the prayer shawls include the Tree of Life, pomegranates, the Star of David, and of course, the town of Jerusalem.


Despite prayer shawls being worn traditionally by men only, in more recent times, women have come to wear them too. As a result, many of the unique prayer shawls seen and available worldwide today are made with women in mind. They are referred to as talitisha (woman’s prayer shawl).


Materials used for such prayer shawls include organza, embroidered soft cotton, and viscose.


Often, the blessing of the prayer shawl is embroidered into the atarah or neckband of the shawl. This can be in any color, though in specialty shawls, gold or silver thread is quite popular. It is partly for decoration, and partly as a guide from which to read when taking part in the morning prayer service.

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Prayer Shawls: A Gift From The Heart

February 4th, 2009

Prayer Shawls, otherwise known as Peace Shawls, Comfort Shawls, or Mantles, are a means for one person to convey their good wishes, prayers, and thoughts to another person in need.

Made from a variety of colours, such prayer shawls need not just be knitted. They can be crocheted, quilted, or sewn in any other fashion. They can be personalised with the addition of trinkets, charms, feathers, shells, beads, or other items the person making the prayer shawl deems relevant to its creation. However, many prayer shawl makers do choose specific colors depending on the recipient’s circumstances: more sombre moments might mean using deep purple, navy, or black, whereas happier events, such as the birth of a baby, might sway the prayer shawl maker to choose a more jovial color such as yellow, pale green, blue, or pink.

Usually, prior to making a prayer shawl, a little prayer or blessing is said. Often times, scented candles are lit and subtle music played in the background, in order to achieve a calm and peaceful atmosphere. While the prayer shawl maker works, prayers directed at the intended recipient are made. When the shawl is finished, again, a blessing or prayer is said, and the shawl finally handed over, together with much love.

There is no specific occasion for which a prayer shawl must be used. It is equally suitable for giving, wearing, or making during a birthday or marriage celebration as it is for sadder events such as comfort in sickness, a hospital stay, or during a funeral.

To make a prayer shawl it is necessary to obtain all the right equipment before you begin. You will need a set of plastic knitting needles, size 11 or 13, and approximately 555 yards of wool for a smaller shawl, or 740 yards of wool for a larger one. As it is a considerable amount of yarn, it is important to choose a type that fits within your budget. Waiting until there is a sale or purchasing it cheaper from a market can help alleviate the costs as it is better for the entire shawl to be made from the same color and type of wool.

Traditional knitted prayer shawls have a distinct pattern: one row purl, one row plain, repeated until the end. Care should be taken that two rows of the same stitch do not occur.

Although the pattern remains the same, each prayer shawl is a unique work of art, made special by the wishes, kindness, and love woven into it by the person making it.

Anyone who receives one should know that it is a very special honour to be given a prayer shawl.

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About the tallit

January 31st, 2009

Though it is has been written “talit”, “talet”, “taleth”, “tallis”, but maybe most frequently, “tallit”, the origin of the Jewish prayer shawl by this name, is definitely a source of interest for many.

Derived from a word meaning “cloak” or “gown”, rectangular in shape, and white in color, it was only worn during ancient times by men and looked very similar to a blanket. Knotted tassels, in accordance with the bible, were attached to each corner.

Possibly the tallit originated with the Bedouin people, bearing a vague resemblance to the linen or woollen “abbayah”, which they wore to protect themselves from the weather. However, with its finer qualities nowadays, it is more likely to have been influenced by the Roman pallium, the prayer shawl of the rabbis and scholars that were both rich and famous.

Traditionally, the length of a tallit is a handbreadth shorter than whatever garment is worn beneath it, however it should be large enough to cover a small child that can walk. It can be made from wool, cotton, or silk. Ideally, a tallit should be made from coarse lamb’s wool that is half-bleached.

Following the Jews’ exile from Erez in Israel, and the gradual introduction of clothing that did not have four specific corners, the tallit was no longer worn as part of the daily wardrobe. Instead, it became an integral part of religious rituals, requiring a blessing to be said once put in place.

It is compulsory for men who are married to wear a tallit, though it’s usual for many bar mitzvah males to wear them too. It is worn during morning services and often bears the blessing, which, after translation, can read as or similar to: “Blessed are You, O Eternal our God, Ruler of the universe, Who has sanctified us with your commandments, and commanded us to wrap ourselves in the fringed garment”.

Previously, the only decoration on the tallit was a series of black stripes. More recently, these have also appeared on tallitot (the plural of tallit) in blue. Although this is the custom, there is no hard and fast rule to dictate this, so theoretically, it is possible to have a prayer shawl with stripes of a different color.

However, today, many different and beautiful designs appear on prayer shawls, so much so, that despite great disapproval and concern that the tallit may be shown disrespect, many non-Jews have also taken a fancy to wearing a tallit.

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The History and Origins of the Tallit

December 29th, 2008

The Torah explicitly commands that Tzitzit be added to the four corners of garments. (Maimonides considered it one of the most important of the 613 Mitzvot); traditionally the wearing of Tzitzit began with this commandment, though biblical scholars consider it to be much older, and argue that the commandment reflected an already existing practice.

In early Judaism, Tzitzit were used for the corners of ordinary everyday clothing; most Jewish people at the time wore clothing which consisted of a sheet-like item wrapped around the body, comparable to the abayah (blanket) worn by the Bedouins for protection from sun and rain, and to the stola/toga of ancient Greece and Rome. As recorded in the Talmud, these were sometimes worn partly doubled, and sometimes with the ends thrown over the shoulders.

After the 13th century CE, Tzitzit began to be worn on new inner garments, known as Arba Kanfos, rather than the outer garments. This inner garment was a 3ft by 1ft rectangle, with a hole in the center for the head to pass through; the modern Tallit evolved from this medieval item. By modern times, the four-cornered sheet-like cloth fell out of fashion, and became regarded as impractical compared with alternatives; since most modern western clothing does not have four clear corners, the rule essentially became obsolete in daily life.

However, traditional Jews began to voluntarily wear a small tallit in ordinary life, in order to explicitely fulfill the commandment to wear Tzitzit; some Jewish commentators argue that it is a transgression to miss a commandment that one is able to fulfill. Tallit are also often worn during prayer for this reason, and this is practiced by a wider group of Jews. A tallit is often used as a Chuppah in Jewish wedding ceremonies.

Source: Wikipedia

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Tallit: Jewish Symbol

December 1st, 2008

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.

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