Women and Tallit

Mitzvah - Tallit for Women

Due to women's unique role, they are exempt from any mitzvah which has a time contingency. This includes: hearing the Shofar (for the mitzvah is only on Rosh Hashanah), Lulav and Etrog (Sukkot), saying the Shema (morning and night), wearing a tallit, etc. Although women are exempt from all these Mitzvot, many women perform them anyway. Women hear the Shofar, say Shema and wear a Tallit. In the case of a tallit, some of them wear a special tallit for women. It is not the black & white tallit for men but colorful tallit for women made of silk, cotton or wool.

Women are exempt from tzitzit (wearing a tallit) too, for the obligation to wear tzitzit is only during the daytime. But wearing a tallit for women is different from all the abovementioned mitzvot, for tallit is not mandatory for men either. The Torah only says that if you happen to wear a four-cornered garment, then you must put fringes on the corners. Therefore, for a woman to wear tallit is considered hubris, and is considered improper.

Obviously, the fact that women are exempt from the mitzvah of wearing a tallit demonstrates that due to their heightened spiritual awareness they do not require a constant reminder to remind them to observe the mitzvot!

Read about Laws and Customs Concerning Wearing Tallit For Women

Hamsa In Kabbalah Jewelry

Hamsa On Rings, Pendants, Earrings and Bracelets

Hamsa, also known as the "Hand Of G-D" , "Hand of Miriam" is a popular amulet. Many people worldwide are wearing jewelry items with the Hamsa symbol in rings, pendants bracelets and necklaces.

The word Hamsa comes from Arabic, meaning five and symbolize the five fingers of the human hand.

Read more about Hamsa In Kabbalah Jewelry

Hamsa

Wearing a Women's Tallit Makes You Feel More Committed and Connected

"The first time I wore the talit in shul I felt very self-conscious. I was sure everyone was looking at me wearing a talit for women; I practiced in front of the mirror at home and wore the tallit around the house before the 'Big Day'... I am only sorry now that it took me so long to actually wear a talit and I am proud and grateful to belong to such a warm, friendly and tolerant community." Michele Charkham

"As a Jew, fully committed to Jews and Judaism, I not only wanted to feel that full commitment but be seen to fulfill it, to be counted as an adult with totally equal status in Jewish life... I began to wear a tallit for women and kippah to further my expression of belonging and sharing in the community, to state my position as a healthy and positive member of the kelal, prepared to wear the tallit for women as a cloak of responsibility with pride and joy." Dee Eimer

Read more personal reflections of Women and Tzitzit

Why Are Some Women Wearing a Tallit?

People are asking: "Why are women wearing a tallit?" In one sense the question of wearing a tallit for women is a straightforward question; in another sense, the issue of tallit for women is extremely complex. People ask "why?" for many different reasons: simply because they are curious why women need to wear a tallit; because they are bewildered from what they show, especially if it's the first time they see a woman wearing the tallit; because they are astonished from the possibility that women can wear a tallit too; because they are bemused, thinking that wearing a tallit is for men only; because they are angry to see that a tallit for women made of silk is more colorful... It is a question that involved Torah, halachah and tradition."

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Read some personal reflections of women wearing a tallit

Women's Tallit - a Jewish Prayer Shawl

The Jewish Prayer Shawl: tallit (pronounced tal-eet), talit, tallis, talis is a religious symbol, a garment, shroud, canopy, cloak which envelops the Jew both physically and spiritually, in prayer and celebration, in joy and sorrow.

Anyone attending an orthodox synagogue today will see that the men are all wearing prayer shawls. But in the Reform synagogue the picture is different. The Reform movement is absolutely committed to the full implementation of principles of equality. One application of that equality is that women, just like men, can wear a tallit. Wearing a tallit for women and for men is a very important part of Jewish life.

Tallit and Jewish Occasions

Execpt from the Shabbat, Festival morning services and daily morning services, the tallit is used in joy and sorrow at all major Jewish occasions:

  • Circumcision - At the circumcision (Brit Milah), three men must wear a tallit at the time of the Brit:
    1. the father of the baby boy,
    2. the Mohel who perform the Brit Milah,
    3. the Sandek who sits and holds the baby on his lap during the time of the Brit
  • Bar Mitsvah - Boys begin wearing a tallit at the age of bar Mitzvah or even earlier, depend on the custom in the community.
  • Wedding - Jewish wedding is performed under a prayer shawl held up during the ceremony by four poles called a chupa or huppah. In some communities the bridegroom covers his bride with his tallit, his prayer shawl signifying that he is taking her into his care.
  • Burial - The final step of the taharah is that the deceased (male) is draped in a Tallit.

Women, Tallit and Tzitzit

Tzitzit are fringes attached to the four corners of a tallit, or a special four-cornered garment (arba kanfot or tallit katan) in fulfillment of the biblical commandment. It is possible to interpret this command, originally intended to indicate that Jews wore outer garments with fringes, as incumbent on men and women. This is, in fact, how the Talmud interprets the command in the first instance. In tractate Menachot 643a we read that everyone is obligated concerning the tzitzit: Kohenim, Leviyyim, Yisraelim, converts, women and slaves. Then a comment by Rabbi Simon follows:

"Rabbi Simon exempted women because this was a positive mitzvah limited by time and from all positive, time bound mitzvot women are exempt".

Read more about Women Speak about Tallit