Wool Tallit – How to Make Your Own Tallit
Tallit are an important part of Jewish rituals. Although the tallit itself has no religious significance, the tzitzit attached to them fulfills God’s commandment to wear tassels on the four corners of your clothing. The tzitzit represent the 613 commandments Jews are expected to obey and serve as a reminder of your commitment to keeping those commandments. While you can buy a prayer shawl in a variety of fabrics including silk, cotton and wool tallit, many adventurous souls would like to try their hand at making their own. Constructing a tallit is fairly simple but does involve a lot of work.
Your first task is to decide the kind of fabric you want to use. Wool tallit is very common as is cotton and silk. You can use any fabric that you want as long as the entire tallit is constructed from the same material, for example, using all wool or all cotton. Additionally, the mixing of wool and linen is strictly forbidden. Once you’ve decided on the material, you need to measure out a piece long enough to cover the head and body. Traditionally tallit are very large extending from the head to the knees. Contemporary tallit are shorter extending from the head to the top of the thighs. Make sure whichever length you choose adheres to the customs of your community.
You can get the tallit in any design or color you choose so pick something that you will enjoy wearing. You can even get something festive such as a wool tallit with a menorah pattern on it. As long as it is not offensive the sky is the limit on what you can use. Hem the edges of the fabric so that it is neat and will not fray. Make a hole on each corner of the fabric and thread through four strands of Kosher tzitzit thread. Folded in half this should make a total of eight strands. Each strand should be knotted five times to make the required 613 knots that represent the commandments.
Lastly, if you have the sewing skills you can sew on an atarah or collar that denotes the top of the tallit. On the atarah, stitch the prayer that is to be said each time the tallit is put on. You have to be careful with some of the letters as sometimes they do not come out right and you end up stitching an offending word. Once you have finished the blessing, your wool tallit is ready to wear.
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