Many men follow the practice of keeping their tallis on their head during tefillah. Halachic authorities explain that wearing a tallis on one’s head humbles a person’s heart and brings him to fear Hashem (Beis Yosef 8,2; Bach 8,5). Therefore, it is proper to keep one’s tallis on his head from the beginning of the tefillah until its conclusion (Mishnah Berurah 8,4).
“Rav Chisda came to visit Rav Huna. When Rav Huna asked Rav Chisda why he didn’t cover his hair with a head covering, Rav Chisda replied that he was not married” (Kiddushin 29b). The Gemara implies that only a married man should cover his head with a tallis.
Some Ashkenazi authorities infer from the aforementioned Gemara that a single man should not cover his head with a tallis, even if he is a talmid chacham (Mishnah Berurah 8,4). However, Sephardi authorities argue that wearing a tallis on one’s head is an important part of tefillah. Therefore, they rule that a man should wear a tallis on his head even if he is not married (Kaf Hachaim 8,12).
A Fallen Tallis
Men who wear a tallis for tefillah keep them on for the duration of Shacharis. It is quite commonplace that one’s tallis accidentally drops from his shoulders in the course of long prayer services, especially on the Yamim Nora’im or Simchas Torah. Does one need to recite another blessing when putting it back on?
In a similar situation, if one’s tefillin slips off during Shacharis, the accepted halachah is that one does not recite a new blessing, since the person is still involved with prayer and we assume that his mind is still focused on the mitzvah of wearing tefillin. Some authorities apply the same halachah to wearing a tallis and do not require one to recite another blessing (see Rav Akiva Eiger 8,12).
Moreover, even when the tallis gadol slips off, a man still fulfills the mitzvah of tzitzis with his tallis katan. Since one is still involved with the mitzvah of tzitzis, we do not require another blessing when a man’s tallis falls off (Maharasham 4,148). Based on these reasons, the custom is that as long as they are wearing a tallis katan, men do not recite another berachah when their tallis falls off (Rav Shlomo Zalman Aeurbach as cited in Halichos Shlomo 3).
Text Copyright © 2012 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org