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The Use of a Tallit

A Tallit is a prayer shawl of the Jews worn over the outer garments during the morning prayers (Shacharit), both on weekdays and on Shabbat, and on the night of Yom Kippur. The Tallit has special twined and knotted fringes called tzitzit, which is connected to its four corners. Most conventional Tallitot are made out of wool. Tallitot are first worn by girls on their 13th Jewish Birthday or Bar Mitzvahs and the boys on their 12th Jewish Birthday or Bat Mitzvahs. In Orthodox, Ashkenazi circles, a Tallit is customarily given to a groom before his marriage as part of the dowry.

In a passage in the book of Numbers, the Israelites are required to put tzitzit on their clothing to be reminded of the Mitzvoth, just like tying a string on your finger to keep as reminder of something you need to remember. The scripture as well instructs that the fringe needs to have a "techeilet" thread, which is known to be a  turquoise or blue dye, but the root of that dye is no longer known, so tzitzit are all made white at present. There is a complex procedure for tying the knots of the tzitzit, full of religious and numerological importance.

In the book of Deuteronomy  it is stated that the fringes needs to be placed on the four corners of the garb, from which the Rabbis noted that only four-cornered garbs have to have tzitzit affixed to them, which were common during the biblical times. In Talmudic times people wore four-cornered garbs with tzitzit attached to it. The main importance of the Tallit comes from the tzitzit. The tallit itself had no religious importance.
To carry out this Mitzvah, adult men wear a four-cornered shawl called a Tallit during morning services, together with a tefillin. In some Orthodox congregations, only the married men wear a Tallit; in other congregations, both the married and unmarried men are allowed to wear one. In Reconstructionist Conservative and Reform temples, both men and women are allowed to wear a Tallit, but most of the men wear it rather than the women. A blessing is also recited when you wear a Tallit.

The word Tallit of uncertain etymology originally meant "gown" or "cloak" (in Latin it is connected to the word "stola"). Its shape is rectangular and looks like a blanket. Initially, the Tallit was worn as a daily habit, but after the Jews were exiled and dispersed from Eretz Israel, they came to take on the customs of their gentile neighbors and the Tallit became a religious garb for prayer; that's why it was called the Prayer Shawl.

The Tallit is worn to create a sense of personal space at the time of prayer - the name derives from two Hebrew words: the 1st one is TAL, which means tent and the 2nd one is ITH, which means little. When you put them together it will give you “Little Tent”. By draping yourself with it, or by having your head covered with it, the purpose and course of your prayers can be raised. The garment can be created with synthetics, linen, wool or silk as long as the biblical prohibition against the wearing of clothing combining wool and linen is observed.