A Lubavitch chasid wears his talis with the sides folded under, at the shoulders, bunching the side material under rather than over the material that lies on the shoulder (see an example). Why?

  • Inspired by the comments at judaism.stackexchange.com/a/8609.
    – msh210
    Aug 7 '12 at 22:22
  • I don't read russian, and cannot confirm or deny: chabadtalk.com/forum/showthread.php3?p=168138
    – Menachem
    Aug 8 '12 at 21:57
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    @Menachem Russian (Shamir) edition of Kitzur S"A, it says regarding tallis: There are two ways to add tallit: first tallit from the beginning folded so that the face was out, and then the black bars are on top, with the second (more common among Russian Jews) - tallit from the beginning folded wrong side out, and then the black bars are inside.
    – user1292
    Aug 9 '12 at 1:41

The last Chabad rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson z'l, made a compromise between his rebbe, the previous rebbe Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn z'l, who wore a regular Lubavitch talis and his father R' Levi Yitzchak Schneerson z'l, a kabalist, who wore an all-white talis (see page 30 of this pdf). By folding under, it appeared all white, according to the custom of his father, while still being a talis in the style of the previous rebbe. The custom then spread to the rest of Chabad.

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    This is the correct answer except its backwards. The Rebbe's father was a kaballaist and therefore had an all white tallis with white stripes like most sefardim wear. The Previous Rebbe who the Rebbe was a chosid of wore the traditional Chabad tallis that has black stripes although different than most Ashkenazim as the stripe pattern is kaballisitic in nature. To reconcile his hiskashrus for his Rebbe and his father he rolled the tallis to conceal the black stripes to fulfill both ways. This is not documented in Sefer HaMinhagim because it is not a minhag, just a custom of Beis Rebbe.
    – user1292
    Aug 8 '12 at 4:48
  • @mochinrechavim, is it in Minhage Melech?
    – msh210
    Aug 8 '12 at 6:35
  • @mochinrechavim thanks, I knew somebody would come through to correct me. I was close. :) Feel free to edit (or I can) but if it's not documented perhaps the question still stands as to how it became such a universal Chabad minhag in the space of a generation.
    – yoel
    Aug 8 '12 at 15:22
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    @msh210 It could be. This is not a widely used sefer as the Rebbe did not approve of certain levels of lets say "gashmisdic shadowing" of himself. The Chassidim adopted certain things not laid out in Sefer HaMinhagim. A good example is the Pesach Hagaddah with the Rebbe's commentary which says on many occainsions "this is what was done in Beis Rebbe" referring to his Father-in-Law.
    – user1292
    Aug 8 '12 at 16:13
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    @Ariel We arent talking about the front we are talking about the back like this. 2.bp.blogspot.com/_sMA1Zd6ZRqw/S5lWRP3KZTI/AAAAAAAADi8/…
    – user1292
    Aug 14 '12 at 4:59

Since I inspired the question, I get to post the first answer:

I was told it's because the wife of the Lubavitcher Rebbe did not like the way the decorative knots on the side edges looked (they look unfinished), and would cut them off of his tallis and put in a regular seam.

So he started folding the knots under so they would not be visible (i.e. would not look bad) and the other chassidim copied him.

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    I assume he means the pompoms.
    – Seth J
    Aug 7 '12 at 23:21
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    @msh210 Of course I mean the "pompoms" as Seth J calls it! How could you think for even a second that I meant the actual tzitizis strings?
    – Ariel
    Aug 8 '12 at 0:38
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    @Qoheleth en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Prayer_Shawl.JPG You can see the knots easily here. As you see they are on the side. Lubavitch folds those edges under so the knots are not visible.
    – Ariel
    Aug 8 '12 at 3:05
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    Unless such a story is printed somewhere, I am going to say -1 for a story that sounds straight out of a fashion magazine. This is not Yiddishkiet, this is not Chassidishkeit, and its for sure not Lubavitchkiet or something that one of the Holy Rebbitzen's would be associated with.
    – user1292
    Aug 9 '12 at 16:21
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    @sethj the -1 is because it's unsourced. The idea's possible slight irreverence is an extra reason why a source would be important, imo. Aug 12 '12 at 8:39

In Tzitzit Halacha LeMa'aseh (Chapter 8, footnote 93), R' Gurary quotes Reshimot Devarim (Volume 2 page 100) from R' Chitrik, who says that the custom of the world is to fold the Tallit over, so that the edge of the tallit is on the outside. The custom of the Chabad Rabbeim is to fold it under. so the the edge of the Tallit is on the inside.

In Kobetz Ha'oros U'Beurim - Oholei Torah #534, page 30, Rabbi Avraham Holtzberg suggests that this was done in order to conceal the black stripes on the Tallit.

Rabbi Gurary questions this answer, since when it is folded this way the stripes are even more visible.

Either way, the answer seems to be that Chabad Chassidim started folding the Tallit this way because their Rebbe did it this way.

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