I first became involved with a non-orthodox congregation where it was customary for everyone over Bar Mitzvah age to wear a tallit gadol. However, I understand that it is an Ashkenazi minhag not to wear a tallit gadol before marriage. As an unmarried man who has been wearing a tallit gadol, can I change my custom and stop wearing a tallit gadol (until marriage)?

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    A minhag doesn't over rule a halochoh. Mishna Baruroh holds even Ashkenazim wear a talith jodol at age 13. If they want to wear it that is their "minhag", however since you don't have their "minhag" stick with the talith. Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 1:24
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    – msh210
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 1:30
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    Just being picky, but technically, the Ashkenazi (i.e., German) minhag is to wear a tallis at 13 (this is where the Reform and Conservative movements get it from). Eastern European Jews have the minhag you describe. So the question applies equally if someone moves from a German community to an Eastern European community. Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 1:50
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    @dhoweed where does the mishna berura say that?
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 2:11
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    In response to @DoubleAA asking DhoweedYaAgov where Mishna Berurah discusses this, it is in Shulchan Aruch 17:3
    – Lee
    Commented Mar 28, 2013 at 15:45

2 Answers 2


Actually, many Ashkenazim (mostly of German descent) do wear one before marriage. In fact, I've heard second-hand that Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik felt that the Minhag of not wearing one was wrong, so wrong that if there was any inkling of family Minhag to support wearing it, one should switch to wearing it if he didn't up to that point. I know one person who did just that.

Some Googling yields some insights into this, though nothing directly corroborating it.

Bottom line, those who don't are following the Maharil, and do(n't) so for family Minhag reasons, but if there's no family Minhag to go that route, it is seen (by some) as failing to fulfill a rabbinic obligation to wear one.

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    Worth noting that there is never an obligation to wear a tallit.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 2:12
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    This is second-hand reportage.
    – Seth J
    Commented Mar 18, 2013 at 2:47
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    I wore a Tallis Gadol before I got married. I didn't get married until 36. Some other unmarried men in our service also wore one. I think it is rather strange wearing tefillin without a tallis, actually. I think our minhag is mostly Germanic too.
    – CashCow
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 13:59
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    FWIW, the Maharil merely provides the rationale used by those who don't wear. It is not a psak. Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 19:22

my inkling is to say you should not stop wearing it based on the idea of maalin bakodesh v'ein yaridin (one goes up in holiness but no down) The idea being that once you accept upon yourself wearing a tallis you wouldn't stop. Not the same but related is a divorced man or a widow would not stop wearing his tallis.

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