Askmoses-A Jews Resource
What does the name Nathan (or Nosson) mean?
Browse our archives

The Scholar is ready to answer your question. Click the button below to chat now.


Scholar Online:

Type in your question here:

Why doesn't a woman wear a tallit?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

Library » Mitzvot » Tallit and Tzitzit | Subscribe | What is RSS?


PRINT EMAIL COMMENT

In Judaism, men and women occupy different, but equally important roles. The woman’s role exempts her from any Mitzvah which has a time contingency. (See Why are women exempt from time related Mitzvahs?) This includes such Mitzvahs as: hearing the Shofar (for the Mitzvah is only on Rosh Hashanah), Lulav and Etrog (Sukkot), saying the Shema (morning and night), etc. Although women are exempt from all these Mitzvahs, they may - and many do - perform them anyway.

Tzitzit (the Mitzvah of Tallit) is also a time related Mitzvah, for the obligation to wear Tzitzit is only during the daytime. With regard to this Mitzvah, however, women are not only exempt but are actually discouraged from doing so. Here's the reason why:

Tzitzit is different than all the abovementioned Mitzvahs, for Tzitzit 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.

In other words, the very idea of wearing a special garment (Tallit) in order to be able to wear Tzitzit is in its own right going beyond the call of "biblical duty". Thus for a woman to wear a Tallit she would be going beyond her biblical call of duty in two regards: specifically wearing the particular garment, and fulfilling a time related Mitzvah. This type of "extra righteousness" is considered hubris and improper.

[There are many actions which are prohibited because they appear to be hubris (Mecheze Kiyuhara). For example: In a locale where it is customary for everyone except Torah scholars to work on Tishah b'Av, it is forbidden (according to the majority of Halachic opinions) for a layman to abstain from work, because it is perceived as arrogance.1 Another example: It is forbidden for one to wear clothes which are reserved for mourners, as a symbol of mourning for Jerusalem and the Temple, for this, too, is considered arrogance.2]

Judaism is obviously not out to deprive people of getting closer to G-d, so the fact that women are exempt from this Mitzvah demonstrates that due to their heightened spiritual awareness they do not require it in the first place. (See also If women are important why can't they do the same things men do?)

Footnotes

  • 1. Talmud tractate Pesachim 54b
  • 2. Talmud tractate Baba Kama 59b and see Tosafot

ADD A COMMENT

Please email me when new comments are posted (you must be  logged in).

COMMENTS

Women and Tallit

Posted by: x ben x on Sep 05, 2006

Kabbalistically speaking, men cannot connect to their surrounding light (or mekif) until he is married. This is why the bride circles the groom seven times at the wedding, to awaken his surrounding light (basically his spiritual potential). Men wear a tallit to connect to their surrounding light.

Women do not need such things. They are able to connect to their Or Mekif naturrally, even without being married, and without wearing a tallit. As such, it derives them no benefit to wear a tallit.

Miracles and Wonders


RELATED CATEGORIES

Daily Life » Clothing » Tallit and Tzitzit
Women & Judaism » Women's Mitzvot » Obligations/ Exemptions

Mitzvah
(pl. Mitzvot). A commandment from G-d. Mitzvah also means a connection, for a Jew connects with G–d through fulfilling His commandments.
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.
Halachic
Pertaining to Jewish Law.
Rosh Hashanah
The Jewish New Year. An early autumn two day holiday marking the creation of Adam and Eve. On this day we hear the blasts of the ram's horn and accept G-d's sovereignty upon ourselves and the world. On Rosh Hashanah we pray that G-d should grant us all a sweet New Year.
Sukkot
A seven day autumn festival commemorating the miracle of the Heavenly Clouds which enveloped the Jews while traveling in the desert for forty years. On this holiday we dwell in makeshift booths and shake the Four Species.
Shofar
The horn of a Kosher animal. The Shofar is sounded on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, and is intended to awaken us to repentance. Also blown to signify the conclusion of the Yom Kippur holiday.
Etrog
A citron; a greenish-yellow citrus fruit. We are required to take an Etrog on the holiday of Sukkot and shake it together with a palm branch, a myrtle and a willow.
Lulav
A palm branch. One of the Four Species we are required to take on the holiday of Sukkot. We shake it together with a citron, myrtle, and willow.
Av
The fifth month of the Jewish calendar, normally corresponding to July-August. The saddest month of the year due to the destruction of the Temples, and the many other tragedies which befell the Jews in this month.
Jerusalem
Established by King David to be the eternal capital of Israel. Both Temples were built there, and the third Temple will be situated there when the Messiah comes.
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.
Temple
1. Usually a reference to the Holy Temple which was/will be situated in Jerusalem. 1st Temple was built in 825 BCE and was destroyed in 423 BCE. The 2nd Temple was built in 350 BCE and was destroyed in 70 CE. The 3rd Temple will be built by the Messiah. 2. A synagogue.
Shema
The most fundamental Jewish prayer, recited twice daily. This prayer, of Biblical origin, professes the belief in G-d's absolute unity.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.