All-White Tallit: The Difference Lies in the Details

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The prevalent custom among many Sephardic Jews is to wear an all-white tallit, but many other Jews also choose a solid white tallit with white stripes for aesthetic reasons, either as a Shabbat tallit, a special tallit for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and holidays, or a wedding tallit to be worn under the chuppah (wedding canopy).

White Tallit Options

Today, some traditional white-on-white tallits feature a textured box weave that helps keep the tallit in place on the shoulders. Often referred to as a “nonslip tallit,” some examples include the Hameoar and Tashbetz (The name “Tashbetz” is taken from Exodus 28:4, which refers to “a tunic of chequer work.”). This type of weave is supple, making it soft to the touch and a pleasure to wear.

Another option is the Beit Yosef, which is made entirely of wool, including the atara (neckband) and the corners. While a standard white tallit has satiny white stripes, the Beit Yosef has striping integrated into the weave. The unique wool striping lends the Beit Yosef Tallit a subtle refinement that sets it apart from other traditional white tallits.

Some Sephardic tallits feature unique netted fringes, much like those found on the traditional Yemenite tallit. This can add as much as $40 to the price of the tallit. A white tallit known as the Malchut Tallit features short netted fringes without adding to the price.

Although more expensive, another option is a handwoven all-white tallit, which may be made using wool, cotton or silk. The wool is made using thick yarns that create a rugged, earthy look. Cotton uses thinner yarns that enable greater detail and result in a slightly thinner fabric. Silk affords even greater detail work and has high sheen.

Sephardic Tzitzit

If you are Sephardic, or buying for a Sephardic Jew, you will probably want the tzitzit to be tied according to the Sephardic custom, which not all sellers are set up to accommodate.

Today, many people look for Ptil Tekhelet tzitzit, which cost at least $70. Be aware that instead of the traditional Ashkenazi or Sephardic tying, they should be tied according to the Rambam, the Arizal, the Vilna Gaon or Sefer HaChinuch.

Atara

Some people like the simple classic look of the all-white tallit, but want to add a bit of flare by having an attractive atara (neckband) added. Most ataras range in price from $25 to $75, but if you’re thinking of a stately atara with sterling silver, be prepared to pay $200 to $400.


write by Siegfried

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