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When is the tallit pulled over the head during prayer?

by Rabbi Moshe Miller

  

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There are different opinions as to when one must cover one’s head: Some require the head to be covered for the entire prayer,1 while others only require that the Tallit cover the head immediately after reciting the brachah l'hitateif b'Tzitzit for the amount of time it would take to walk four cubits (i.e. a few short seconds).2


One should follow the custom of the majority of people in the congregation in which one prays.3


It is worthwhile to note that, according to KabbalahTorah scholars pull their Tallitot over their heads, since the tallit enveloping the head alludes to the light of Torah that envelops a Torah scholar, while lay people merely place the tallit on their shoulders, leaving the head uncovered.4

Footnotes

  • 1. Bach, Orach Chaim 8; Be'er Heitev Orach Chaim 8 s.k. 3; Leket Yosher vol. 1 Orach Chaim p. 13, 19; and others.
  • 2. Shaarei Teshuvah, Orach Chaim 8 s.k. 3, in the name of Dvar Shmuel.
  • 3. Kaf Hachaim, Orach Chaim 8 s.k. 9, 10.
  • 4. See Even Shoham from R’ Chaim Vital, Hilchot Tzitzit, Siman 18, Pituchie Chotam 5. See also Asifat Gershon, Tallit, Siman 16; Magen Avraham, Sif Kattan 3, Siman 8

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RELATED CATEGORIES

Daily Life » Clothing » Tallit and Tzitzit
Mitzvot » Prayer » Laws and Customs

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Kabbalah
Jewish mysticism. The word Kaballah means "reception," for we cannot physically perceive the Divine, we merely study the mystical truths which were transmitted to us by G-d Himself through His righteous servants.
Tallit
A prayer shawl. A large four-cornered woolen garment with fringes attached to its corners in a specific manner. This garment is worn by males during the morning prayers, fulfilling the Biblical obligation of attaching fringes to four-cornered garments.
Tzitzit
Literally: the fringes which are attached to four cornered garments, as Biblically mandated. Normally this word refers to a t-shirt sized four cornered garment which contains such fringes, and is usually worn beneath the shirt.
Tallitot
Plural form of "Tallit." Prayer shawls. Large four-cornered woolen garment with fringes attached to their corners in a specific manner. These garments are worn by males during the morning prayers, fulfilling the Biblical obligation of attaching fringes to four-cornered garments.