History of Tallit

Tallit is a Jewish shawl worn over the clothes during prayers in the morning or during important religious holidays. According to the Bible, people should wear something to cover themselves that is no

Tallit is a Jewish shawl worn over the clothes during prayers in the morning or during important religious holidays. According to the Bible, people should wear something to cover themselves that is not made of a combination between wool and linen because that is forbidden by the Torah; but the tallit can be made from either wool or linen. Tallit actually means gown or cloak and it looks similar to that.  It is customary to be offered as a gift between the male members of a family, especially at weddings or bar mitzvah. It is also used as a burial garment and the men that are buried with their tallit have one of the tzitzit cut off to symbolize the fact that death will end the obligation for mitzvah.

Historically speaking, the tallit is mentioned by the Book of Numbers in the Hebrew Bible and it started being used around 1800BCE by the Jewish people. Although its purpose was the same, the tallit looked a bit different back then as it was rectangular and with tzitzyot in each of its corners. Nowadays it is not that roughly made but it may still have the tzitzyot on the corners.  Tzitzit are knotted fringes attached to the tallit that remind people of the religious requirements they must obey. Other archeologists believe that the tallit dates from the late 7th or 8th century BCE. Its design changed during the second half of the first century CE becoming what it is today. These changes were different from a culture to another and there are different types of tallit besides the classic shawl we know today.

When one wears a tallit they should feel connected to their consciousness and purify themselves with prayers. There are different types of tallit such as tallit katan or tallit gadol. Women don’t usually wear a tallit but some special women who are part of the religious communities may be allowed to wear one. Every man, however, should own or receive a tallit and use it while praying as a reminder of his religious commandments.

Even though times change, the tallit remained practically the same without changing its purpose helping people feel more connected to their religion. Even if we live in modern times, the fact that people still wear a tallit gives us a sense of stability and balance so there is much to learn from these religious practices.



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