Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is there any reason for the stripes on a talis? Does the color of the stripes have any significance?

share|improve this question
    
Are those two separate questions or is the first one a lead-up to the second? I am assuming the former in my answer below. –  WAF Dec 8 '10 at 23:03
    
Two seperate questions. –  YDK Dec 9 '10 at 3:43
    
See also judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/8321. –  msh210 Jun 17 '11 at 16:50
    
See also judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/10594. –  msh210 Oct 9 '11 at 21:58
1  
Analogue for talis katan. –  msh210 Nov 25 '13 at 14:08
add comment

3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

From Rabbi Hershel Schachter's YUTorah lecture on the topic:

The stripes are reminiscent of the techeilet (blue string) that everyone used to wear; depending on the concentration of the dye, you could a color anywhere from light blue to near-black; hence some people have blue stripes, some have black.

I believe there are also kabbalistic meanings behind the stripes (try Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's A Thread of Light), but the above is the simple explanation.

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks. I found the shiur at yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/721283/Rabbi_Hershel_Schachter/… just after the 37 minute mark. He quotes the Mishna Berura in the name of the Levush, but doesn't say where. Do you (or does anyone) know where that MB is? –  YDK Dec 9 '10 at 3:46
1  
I see where MB 9:16 and Beur Halachah 11 (s.v. לא יטיל) mention the custom to have blue stripes at the ends of the tallis, but not the idea that these are to remember the techeles. –  Alex Dec 9 '10 at 4:29
1  
The closest I got was an Elya Zuta on the Levush (9:4) who says "zekeni" (my father? grandfather?) would wear a blue beged with white strings and his impression was that it was to recall the techeiles. –  YDK Dec 9 '10 at 5:26
add comment

To answer your first question, apparently the stripes (like in a barcode) contain information if one knows how to read them, like place of origin and manufacturer. See page 2 of this interview, which mentions this fact in passing.

share|improve this answer
2  
While that's true, it doesn't seem from the interview that that is the reason for the stripes. –  YDK Dec 9 '10 at 3:51
add comment

The Minhag Yisroel Torah mentions that we currently use black stripes based on the Rambam's opinion that the colr of T'cheiles is actually closer to black.

share|improve this answer
    
Did he mean Rashi's opinion? –  YDK Dec 9 '10 at 5:27
1  
Rambam says the same thing (Hil. Tzitzis 2:8). –  Alex Dec 9 '10 at 18:05
    
@Alex I don't think that's what he meant. I think he was stating as a general rule that black can be confused with blue. Bear in mind that when you dye something black, it generally has a tinge of green or blue, especially when it fades. And it may well be that blue was the base for black dye in his day. Here is he discussing whether you can dye the "white" (ie., non-Techeileth) strings black when you have a Techeileth-colored garment. He is saying no, because the Techeileth and the black will be hard to distinguish and the TECHEILETH string (in his opinion only 1 of 8) will not stand out. –  Seth J Jun 17 '11 at 17:12
    
@Seth: could be. Earlier (2:2) he says that the blood of the chilazon is שחור כדיו, black like ink, but that the tzitzis strings are dyed to look כעין הרקיע, like the color of the sky. So you're right, it may well be that black, once it starts fading, could be confused with tzitzis strings. –  Alex Jun 19 '11 at 6:39
    
Belzer chassidim wear dark blue. –  NBZ Feb 17 at 15:18
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.