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Maybe a frivolous question, but I am intrigued as to why the atara (the strip of cloth denoting where the tallis should rest on your shoulders) on every standard tallis (other than the fancy ones with metal trimmings, or the ones with the embroidered bracha) has the same floral design. I know the stripes have some kabbalistic significance, but does the design on the atara have any significance?

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4  
Mass production ? :) –  allced May 17 '11 at 16:07
    
You have to realize that there are about two big tallis manufacturers in the United States. It's not like there are dozens of manufacturers making that same style. –  Tzvi May 18 '11 at 0:28
    
@Tzvi - I'm in Israel... –  Shaul Behr May 18 '11 at 7:52
    
Shaul, touché. In any event, I wonder how many tallis manufacturers there are in Israel. –  Tzvi May 18 '11 at 14:49

2 Answers 2

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It seems to me that you are hanging around a very limited crowd. In the course of any given day I am likely to see Ataras like you have described, but I am also likely to see silver ataras of many kinds, Ataras with the blessing embroidered, homemade ataras, or Chabad Tallitot with not Atara at all.

I think that over the last decade or so, the basic, floral atara that you have described has become the most common in much of the Haredi world in Israel for much the same reason that carrying a plain, square, black bag has become the norm. The trend in the Haredi world over the last few decades has been for people to do everything more and more the same. This is true of everything from dress code to everyone observing the highest common denominator in most areas of Halacha instead of being Machria according to any one opinion. You can argue for or against this trend but that is the way it is.

Also, don't be so sure that there is a kabbalistic reason for the different stripes. I have heard many people assert that idea but have yet to see it written anywhere. If anyone has a source for this, I would love to see it.

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Zalman Shachter-Shlomi, when he made the now-world-famous rainbow talis for the B'nei Or attributed correspondences to the s'firos to each stripe's color and width. It's on his website. For standard black and white ones there is at least significance in the sense of being able to identify the talis with its manufacturer/place of origin based on the stripes. –  WAF May 18 '11 at 10:24
    
I think that is an exception to the rule. This is besides the point that it has nothing to do with the type of tallis that the questioner is referring to, that is the common black and white tallitot that are common in the Haredi world. –  Aaron Shaffier May 18 '11 at 11:02
    
I would assert that the only significance the stripes have in a traditional tallis is to serve to identify the factory that manufactured it. I am pretty sure that all rumors of them having some greater significance is just legend. I would love to see something that indicates otherwise. –  Aaron Shaffier May 18 '11 at 11:05
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Yes, all ataras are pretty much the same, but notice that the ataras on all of the high-end talleisim were updated a few years ago, so now there are really two designs.

There is one exception to the rule of atara conformity: the Beit Yosef Tallit, which is white-on-white (or really cream-on-cream). It is the only tallit I know of that is all wool, including the corners and the atara. The atara has no flowers, but rather very subtle striping.

I have often thought of sewing this atara onto my Shabbos tallit, but sadly I'm not daring enough.

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