The wearing of the tallit (in particular, the tzitzit) is a time-bound commandment. And since women are exempted from most time-bound commandments, they are also exempted from wearing the tallit during prayer. And yet many women today wear tallit during Morning Prayer. This practice is not so frowned upon now as it was before, the debate still remains: should women wear tallit despite the existing laws? Why are women not allowed to wear the tallis in the first place? And should a woman do if she wants to wear a tallit?
Besides the existing commandment about the wearing of the tallit, there are many reasons why women are not allowed to wear the prayer shawl. First of all, men and women are not allowed to wear clothes that are associated with the opposite gender. For instance, men are prohibited to wear skirts, which are normally associated as women’s wear. And because tallits or tallilot are considered as male garments, women should not be allowed to wear them.
Another reason why many are not comfortable with allowing women wear tallitot is how this practice attracts attention. While the practice of some time-bound commandments for women can give them the corresponding blessings, wearing the tallit is not one of them. Also, many say that a woman wearing a talit can also signify a protest against the prohibition. So the purpose of the tallit is not fulfilled since it is used for other non-spiritual and non-religious purposes.
Others even say that the use of tallit works only for men, and it does not work for women. This reason, of course, is shallow. The reason for the restriction obviously has various cultural and religious facets.
And this is why it is important for a woman to wear a specific women’s tallit. By women’s tallit, this refers to a tallit that is specifically made for women, a tallis or prayer shawl that spots feminine designs. This is to offset some of the reason cited earlier. If the woman is wearing a tallit designed specifically for women, then the case that tallilot are garments for male will be negated. It would also not attract so much attention as when a woman opts to use a normal tallit.
Women’s tallits are easily to buy. Many online sellers have women’s tallit to address the need and desire of women to wear the tallit. After all, the practice of wearing the tallit is considered sacred by the Jews, and women naturally want to feel as if they are part of this practice and, consequently, of this community. This is why the practice of wearing the tallit for women after their bat mitzvah is starting to again popularity among many Jewish congregations and community.
The important thing here is the message and purpose of the tallis. As long as the Jewish woman does not attract too much attention, and as long as she remembers the purpose of tallit, the practice of using tallit for women should not pose too much problems for the wearer and for her community.