Tallis Katan: Questions and Answers
QUESTION: Is one required to wear a garment with tzitzis fringes
DISCUSSION: Although Biblical law does not require one to put
tzitzis on a
garment unless the garment that he is wearing has four square corners,
which most garments nowadays do not have, it is fitting and proper for
every male to wear a tallis katan (a small four-cornered garment) all day.
By doing so, he fulfills an important mitzvah, one that serves as a
constant reminder of all of the other mitzvos of the Torah.(1)Accordingly,
it has become customary for all G-d-fearing people to wear a tallis katan
all day.(2)Since this has become the prevalent custom, one may not deviate
from the accepted practice. Nowadays, therefore, one is obligated to wear
a tallis katan all day long.(3)Indeed, those who are meticulous in their
mitzvah observance do not walk four cubits (approximately eight feet)
QUESTION: Does a Tallis Katan require a blessing?
DISCUSSION: Married men and those who wear a large tallis during
need not recite a separate blessing over their tallis katan. Rather, when
they recite the proper blessing over the tallis gadol, they should have
the tallis katan in mind.(5)Unmarried men who do not wear a tallis gadol
recite the blessing of Al mitzvas tzitzis on a tallis katan. If the tallis
katan is of questionable size(6)or material,(7)a blessing should not be
Although all married(8)men should wear a tallis gadol during
davening, they should not forgo davening with a minyan if a tallis is
unavailable in shul.(9)[In regard to tefillin, however, it is better to
daven without a minyan than to daven without tefillin(.10)]
Before the blessing on a tallis gadol or katan may be recited, the
tzitzis fringes should be separated from one another.(11)Some poskim(12)
imply that if the fringes are intertwined, then one has not fulfilled the
mitzvah of tzitzis at all, while other poskim hold that b'dieved one has
fulfilled the mitzvah(.13) [If taking time to separate the tzitzis will
cause one to miss tefillah b'tzibur, he may rely on the lenient view(14)]
All poskim agree that if the fringes are tied [or glued] together, then
the mitzvah has not been fulfilled and the blessing said over them is said
Often, the chulyos (the top segment of the fringes which is wound
and knotted) become unraveled or loosened. If this happens, the fringes
should be rewound and knotted. On Shabbos, however, this is strictly
forbidden. Tightening or knotting tzitzis fringes on Shabbos may even be
Biblically prohibited.(16 )
QUESTION: L'chatchilah, can one wear a tallis katan made out of
DISCUSSION: There is a dispute among the Rishonim as to whether it
Biblical requirement to attach tzitzis to a four-cornered garment made of
cotton. Some Rishonim(17)hold that only woolen and linen garments are
Biblically obligated in tzitzis, while others(18)include cotton as well.
Both views are quoted in the Shulchan Aruch,(19 )and the Rama rules like
the view that maintains that cotton garments are Biblically required.
Nevertheless, many poskim advise a G-d-fearing person to wear only a
tallis katan made from wool and thereby fulfill the mitzvah according to
all views.(20)Other poskim, however, do not insist on wool,(21)and there
were eminent Torah scholars(22 )who wore cotton garments to
fulfill the mitzvah of tzitzis.
QUESTION: May a woman attach tzitzis strings to a garment (tallis
DISCUSSION: The Talmud(23)excludes women from the writing of
since they are not commanded to wear tefillin. Following this line of
reasoning, R' Tam ruled that since women are not commanded to wear
tzitzis, they are also not permitted to attach the tzitzis to the garment.
The majority of Rishonim, however, do not agree with this ruling. They
allow women to be involved in all phases of tzitzis production. The
Shulchan Aruch(24 )rules with the majority. Nevertheless, in deference to
the minority opinion [and for other reasons as well], the Rama advises
that l'chatchilah, women should not be allowed to put tzitzis on a garment
(25). One should follow the Rama's directive(26). The Rama's restriction,
however, applies specifically to inserting the strings through the hole
and knotting the first set of chulyos and the double knot immediately
following(27). All poskim agree that after the fact, if these procedures
were done by women, the tzitzis are kosher and need not be restrung(28).
QUESTION: May a minor attach tzitzis fringes to a garment?
DISCUSSION: Based on the previously mentioned Rama, some poskim
a minor below the age of bar mitzvah should not attach tzitzis to a
garment. Other poskim feel that minors are not excluded and may attach
tzitzis to a garment. The Mishnah Berurah(29 )rules that l'chatchilah, it
is not proper to allow a minor to do so.
A minor, however, may prepare tzitzis for himself or for another
minor. Even when he becomes bar mitzvah, he does not have to unknot the
tzitzis and restring them(30).
There is, however, another issue concerning minors attaching tzitzis
to a garment. When tzitzis are placed on a garment, they must be attached
with the intention of "l'shem mitzvas tzitzis," for the sake of the
mitzvah of tzitzis. Since a minor may not be mature enough to concentrate
properly, he may not attach tzitzis to a garment unless he is under the
supervision of an adult. If a minor was not properly supervised, then the
tzitzis must be removed and reattached properly(31.)
QUESTION: Is it permitted to attach tzitzis fringes to a garment at
DISCUSSION: There are some poskim(32)who recommend that one should
so. Their reasoning is based on the halachic principle of ta'aseh (you
should make) v'lo min ha-asui (it should not be automatically done): Since
one is not obligated to wear tzitzis at night(33),t follows that one
cannot produce kosher tzitzis at night, either. The vast majority of poskim
(,34) however, reject this argument. The Mishnah Berurah does not discuss
this issue, but the Chafetz Chayim is quoted(35)as permitting tzitzis to
be attached at night. The Chazon Ish is reported(36)as having asked that
tzitzis be prepared for him at night.
1 Bamidbar 15:39 [quoted in O.C. 24:1]: "That you may see it and
all the commandments of Hashem and perform them." In addition, the Talmud
(Menachos 41a) says that wearing a tallis katan protects a person from
2 Aruch ha-Shulchan 8:2; Tzitz Eliezer 8:4; Yechaveh Da'as 4:2.
3 Igros Moshe O.C. 4:4. See also Igros Moshe O.C. 5:20-25.
4 Mishnah Berurah 8:1. See also Tzitz Eliezer 14:49, who says that the
tallis katan should be left on even if one is suffering from the heat.
5 Mishnah Berurah 8:24, 30; Aruch ha-Shulchan 8:16. This is especially
recommended since often the tallis katan may not be the right size
according to all views. In order to avoid reciting a blessing on the
tallis katan that may be l'vatalah, it is best to recite the blessing over
the tallis gadol. Some poskim rule that if there will be a "long break"
until the tallis gadol is worn, a blessing should be said on the tallis
katan - Harav Y.Y. Kanievsky in Orchos Rabbeinu 1:48; oral ruling heard
from Harav M. Feinstein. See Siach Halachah 8:47-5 for elaboration.
6 See Shulchan Aruch O.C. 16 for the laws of the proper size.
7 Rama O.C. 8:6. The following segment discusses which materials require
8 The Sephardic and German custom is that unmarried men wear a tallis
9 Imrei Yosher 2:201-2; Be'er Moshe 5:5.
10 Mishnah Berurah 66:40.
11 O.C. 8:7.
12 Artzos ha-Chayim O.C. 8; Beiur Halachah 8:7 according to the view of
the Gr"a and Olas Tamid.
13 Aruch ha-Shulchan 8:13; Chazon Ish O.C. 3:9.
14 Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 9:7; Mishnah Berurah 8:18; Aruch ha-Shulchan,
8:13. The Artzos ha-Chayim [quoted above] holds that one must separate his
tzitzis even at the expense of tefillah b'tzibur.
15 Chazon Ish O.C. 3:9.
16 Ketzos ha-Shulchan (Badei ha-Shulchan 317:4); Az Nidberu 3:22; Shemiras
Shabbos K'hilchasah 15:50.
17 Rif, Rambam.
18 Rashi, Tosafos, Rosh.
19 O.C. 9:1.
20 Chayei Adam 11:5; Shulchan Aruch Harav 9:4; Mishnah Berurah 9:5; Igros
Moshe O.C. 1:2; 2:1; 3:1; 3:52. In Igros Moshe O.C. 5:20-25, Harav
Feinstein adds that one who suffers from the heat is not required to wear
woolen garments, although he himself was particular to do so.
21 Kitzur Shulchan Aruch and Aruch ha-Shulchan do not mention this
22 Chazon Ish (quoted in Shoneh Halachos 9:1) and Harav Y.Y. Kanievsky
(quoted in Orchos Rabbeinu 3:188) based on the ruling of the Gr"a (Ma'asei
Rav 17). There are several reasons given why the Gr"a ruled so - See
Tzitzis-Halachah Pesukah pg. 77.
23 Gittin 45b.
24 O.C. 14:1.
25 Many poskim rule that other mitzvos [such as putting sechach on a
sukkah] are included in this prohibition. See, however, Igros Moshe O.C.
26 See Beiur Halachah 14:1. Aruch ha-Shulchan 14:7 refers to this
stringency as a chumra b'alma.
27 Mishnah Berurah 14:2.
28 Mishnah Berurah 14:5.
29 In 14:4 he quotes both views without a decision. In Beiur Halachah he
rules that it is appropriate to be stringent.
30 Beiur Halachah 14:1, since we view that situation as a b'dieved, and
b'dieved the tzitzis are valid according to all views.
31 Mishnah Berurah 14:4.
32 Tosefos Chayim on Chayei Adam 11:1; Salmas Chayim 3:28.
33 The Talmud (Menachos 43a) derives from the verse "and you should see
them" that there is no mitzvah of tzitzis at night.
34 Tehillah l'David 18:4; Aruch ha-Shulchan 14:7; Kaf ha-Chayim 18:2;
Harav A.Y. Bloch (quoted by Harav C. Stein in Imrei Shalom 1:1).
35 Rivevos Efrayim O.C. 3:27.
36 Dinim v'Hanhagos Chazon Ish 2:11; Orchos Rabbeinu 3:188.
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