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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?

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  • Inspired by the comments at judaism.stackexchange.com/a/8609.
    – msh210
    Aug 7, 2012 at 22:22
  • I don't read russian, and cannot confirm or deny: chabadtalk.com/forum/showthread.php3?p=168138
    – Menachem
    Aug 8, 2012 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, 2012 at 1:41

3 Answers 3

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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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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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  • See more info here: link See Hebrew notes there where the Rebbe told a descendent of the Bamberger he should remove the knots per his grandfather's psak. I spoke with that particular fellow (his name was Baram, an Israeli contraction of the original Bamberger) and he said his impression was that the Rebbe had same concern as the Bamberger.
    – mosheb
    Aug 25, 2023 at 10:03
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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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