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I first became involved with a non-orthodox congregation where it was customary for everyone over Bar Mitzvah age to wear a tallit gadol. However, I understand that it is an Ashkenazi minhag not to wear a tallit gadol before marriage. As an unmarried man who has been wearing a tallit gadol, can I change my custom and stop wearing a tallit gadol (until marriage)?

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A minhag doesn't over rule a halochoh. Mishna Baruroh holds even Ashkenazim wear a talith jodol at age 13. If they want to wear it that is their "minhag", however since you don't have their "minhag" stick with the talith. –  MoriDoweedhYaa3qob Mar 18 '13 at 1:24
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Just being picky, but technically, the Ashkenazi (i.e., German) minhag is to wear a tallis at 13 (this is where the Reform and Conservative movements get it from). Eastern European Jews have the minhag you describe. So the question applies equally if someone moves from a German community to an Eastern European community. –  Charles Koppelman Mar 18 '13 at 1:50
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@dhoweed where does the mishna berura say that? –  Double AA Mar 18 '13 at 2:11
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In response to @DoubleAA asking DhoweedYaAgov where Mishna Berurah discusses this, it is in Shulchan Aruch 17:3 –  Lee Mar 28 '13 at 15:45

1 Answer 1

Actually, many Ashkenazim (mostly of German descent) do wear one before marriage. In fact, I've heard second-hand that Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik felt the Minhag not to was wrong, so wrong that if there was any inkling of family Minhag to support wearing it, one should switch to wearing it if he didn't up to that point. I know one person who did just that.

Some googling yields some insights into this, though nothing directly corroborating it.

Bottom line, those who don't are following the Maharil, and do(n't) so for family Minhag reasons, but if there's no family Minhag to go that route, it is seen (by some) as failing to fulfill a rabbinic obligation to wear one.

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Worth noting that there is never an obligation to wear a tallit. –  Double AA Mar 18 '13 at 2:12
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Four-cornered garment. –  Seth J Mar 18 '13 at 2:16
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?? They still wear a Tallit Katan. –  Double AA Mar 18 '13 at 2:28
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This is second-hand reportage. –  Seth J Mar 18 '13 at 2:47

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