How do we wear the Talis Godol immediately after making the brocho?

1) There seems to be one method practised by those following German minhogim. Can someone give a source for it please? Is this called כעטיפת הישמעלים?

2) The other method, כעטיפת הישמעלים, involves throwing the tzitzis over the shoulder after making the brocho. It seems that the four tzitzis need to be thrown over the left shoulder. See for example the illustration in Feldman’s Kitzur Sh” O and Mishna Berura 8 (2)[4]

Yet I remember being told by a (non-Chabad) Rav only to throw the right side tzitzis over the shoulder. Similarly the rubric on p11 of the 5758 edition of the Tehillas HaShem Siddur on the 770live.com website throws only the right side tzitzis over the shoulder.

What please is the origin of the difference between these two minhogim?

  • Summary: Take all the corners of the Talit in bring them to the front (2 on each side), now gather them all and whip them over the left shoulder and wait like this as long as it takes to 4 amot (or a little less). This is in order that your head and body will be wrapped together (S"H Derush 1 Sisit). Ben Ish Hai, Shana Alef, Parashat Bereshit Halacha 5 Dec 28, 2011 at 4:22
  • @H'Gabriel Thanks, that's the same as method (2) above and seems to be widely practised. If you or others could help with the other methods, that would be great. Dec 28, 2011 at 15:01
  • @HachamGabriel llRC, Hacham David Yosef in Halacha Berurah says to do one side, pause, then do the other side (each side being two tzitziyot). Mar 23, 2012 at 15:29
  • @l' yes, but only as a Minhag of Hassidut (IIRC). Mar 23, 2012 at 20:42
  • @HachamGabriel well in a strong sense the whole concept is a minhag chassidut: chacham ovadia admits it's not me'akev in any way. Mar 23, 2012 at 21:25

1 Answer 1


מנהג אשכנז is a) to pull the טלית over one’s head and back (on the head up to the eyes), b) take the right side of the טלית and throw it over the left shoulder (or according to a later מנהג to take the left side and throw it over the right shoulder), in such a way that the chin (and also mouth and nose) are covered.

The מגן אברהם (ס׳ ח, סי׳ ד)‏ derives from the גמרא in מסכת קדושין (דף כט)‏ a) that an unmarried young man should not cover his head with a טלית, and from (דף ח) of the same מסכת, b) that one who is not a תלמיד חכם should not cover his head, even if he is married. It is quite surprising that those following מנהג פולין, do not follow the latter ruling of the מגן אברהם, although they do follow the former. In אשכנז this מגן אברהם wasn't followed (they had a different interpretation of the גמרא), for example in the ישיבת חתם סופר, unmarried young men covered their heads with a טלית. Today, in most synagogues which follow מנהגי אשכנז, unmarried young men wear a hat, as opposed to putting a טלית over their heads. The מנהג of a married adult men wearing a hat rather than wearing a טלית over the head, was not started by רבוני אשכנז, and on the contrary - the רבנים themselves retained the old מנהג.

אָמַר רַב יִצְחָק בַּר יוֹסֵף אָמַר רְֿבִי יוֹחָנָן "הַיוֹצֵא בְּטַלִית מְקוּפֶּֽלֶת מוּנַֽחַת לוֹ עַל כְּתֵיפוֹ בְּשַׁבָּת חַיָּיב חַטָאת׃"‏

רב יצחק בר יוסף stated in the name of רבי יוחנן, one who goes outs into the public domain with a folded cloak resting on his shoulder on שבת, is liable for a חטאת.

Commentary: The גמרא understands טלית to be a large four-cornered garment similar in size and dimension to the טלית used during תפילה today (ערוך השלחן ס׳ ש״א ס״ק פ״א); see also (ערוך השלחן ס׳ ש״א ס״ק ל״א). In Talmudic times, this garment was a normal part of daily attire (ריטב״א). It was generally worn draped over the head and shoulders in such a way that most of one’s body would be covered by it; the sides of the cloak would flow down one’s arms, and the end of the cloak would extend down one’s back towards the floor (see רש״י and ערוך השלחן ad loc.). Here, though, the גמרא discusses a case where the cloak was not worn in this manner. Instead of allowing the cloak to drape behind him, the person lifted the back end of the garment onto his shoulders, in effect folding the cloak in half width-size (רש״י). His purpose in doing so was presumably to guard against the end of the cloak touching the ground and becoming soiled or ripped (see ערוך השלחן ad loc.). Since this is not the normal way the cloak is worn, the person is deemed to be carrying the garment rather than wearing it (see רש״י here and above, דף נ״ה, ד״ה חייב חטאת), and carrying from a private to a public domain is prohibited on שבת. [Since the cloak is not usually worn in this manner, the person cannot be said to be wearing the garment (see אורח חיים ס׳ ש״א ס״ק כ״ט, ל׳).]

בני אשכנז were מקפיד not to fold the טלית over their shoulders, but to wrap their bodies in it, to wear it like a blanket. The טלית is considered clothing, not just something resting on one’s shoulders. The חזן would wear it the same way as חזנים wear it today in קהילות אשכנז. This is discussed at length by רבי אליעזר רוקח. The רוקח’s opinion is as follows, a) one should have two ציציות in the front and two in the back, (Those who wished to follow his opinion, would wrap two ציציות back around their neck!) According to the ancient מנהג this was not done, as most people were not מקפיד. People by not folding the טליתות over their shoulders, might cause their ציציות to drag on the floor, this does not pose a halachic problem. (Those who wish to wear their טלית in a similar way to the ancient מנהג, and don't want to have the ציציות on the floor, should tuck in the bottom ציציות through their belt, in this way they fulfill all מנהגים.) The רוקח’s opinion is quoted by the דרכי חיים ושלום (Munkaczer מנהגים Paragraph 35 of the footnotes). This was also the מנהג of many חסידים in the Ukraine and surrounding regions, including those of Chernobyl, Skver, Karlin-Stolin, and Belz.

  • 2
    Rabbi Wiesenthal, welcome to Mi.Yodeya and thank you for this very informative answer! I encourage you to register your account by clicking the link above to be able to fully participate in the community. I look forward to seeing you around!
    – Double AA
    May 18, 2012 at 6:42
  • 1
    Rabbi Wiesenthal, thank you for your answer. (1) Do you please have a source for the first paragraph of your answer? (2) Do you know please the origin of the minhag of throwing all four tzitzis over the left shoulder? May 18, 2012 at 8:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .