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Hayyim Vital tells us that his teacher was careful to wear his tallit katan (a four-cornered vest) over his shirt but under his other garments. In his words:

הטלית קטן היה לובשו למטה משאר מלבושיו ע"ג חלוקו שלא כאותם המתייהרים ללבשו ע"כ בגדיו וטעות גדול הוא בידם הפך האמת.

Vital accuses those who wear their tallit katan on top of their other clothes of arrogance. One wonders why it is arrogant to wear a tallit katan on top of your clothes but not arrogant to wear a tallit gadol (a sort of cape) on top of your clothes.

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  • Good question which will not be appreciated by most. The Tallit Katan relates to ones personal relationship with G-d. The Tallit Gadol more to how one relates to the Creator with others. This is the distinction between the windings of Reb Shlomo Molcho (26 see Magen Avraham G-d’s name alone) and the Ari z”l as transmitted by Rav Chaim Vital (39, meaning a declaration of G-d being one.) Nov 27, 2022 at 4:37

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Rav Chaim Vital Pri Etz Chaim, Shaar Tzitzit I was actually expounding on the opinion of the Arizal who also felt that a talis kattan should not be worn over one's cloths. Rav Chaim Vital explained that to be because a Talis Kotton represents the internal world of a person (pnimius) whereas the Talis Gadol represents the external world (chitznius) . I know nothing about Kabala so I don't understand this answer myself but I've seen it been explained that a tallis katton should be influencing you internally whereas a tallis gadol should be influencing your dealings with the external world that you come in contact. (That would be very similar to why tefilin shel yad is supposed to covered and tefilin shel rosh is supposed to be uncovered. )

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  • How does this explain why one is arrogant and one isn't?
    – Double AA
    Nov 27, 2022 at 3:26
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    If it is true that the tallit katan is meant to be private, violating this rule would be arrogant because it suggests that one is 'above the rules'
    – user19234
    Nov 27, 2022 at 3:36
  • sefaria.org.il/…
    – user19234
    Nov 27, 2022 at 13:05
  • Lack of tznius is very tied to arrogance. If something is meant to be private, and one puts it for all to see, this is a clear demonstration that he wants everyone to see his "inner" self, and a strong reason to do that would be arrogance - let everyone see how much of a tzaddik I am on the inside
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Nov 27, 2022 at 13:19

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