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I am purchasing my first tallis gadol, but I notice some can be brought without the atara attached. I personally don't like unnecessary embellishments. Is the tallis kosher without an atara?

  • You mean without even the basic wavy embroidery? – Seth J Sep 18 '14 at 16:32
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    Short answer: yes. – Seth J Sep 18 '14 at 16:32
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    @SethJ Also long answer: yes. – Double AA Sep 18 '14 at 16:34
  • Hi Giordano, and welcome to Mi Yodea. Can you clarify your question if you mean the silver attachment or instead any embroidery of any kind? Although the answer is yes in both cases, in the latter case the is a caveat. – Yishai Sep 18 '14 at 17:20
  • @Yishai If you can answer the question ( + source ) on both sides of it, that would certainly answer the question -- both the cloth and the silver are referred to as "atarah" – Shokhet Sep 18 '14 at 17:59
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The source of the attara is found most easily in the Mishna Berurah siman 8 siff 4. It is based on chazzal who tell us the krashim (beams) in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) had signs written on them, so that the ones that merited to be on the north side would always be on the north side. So too the sides of the talis -- the side that is in front should always be in front. The Mishna Berurah quotes the Arizal that this is not so important with regards to talis. The Aruch Hashulchan in siff 10 mentions that if you have a piece of material sewn on the inside on top to keep the talis from getting ruined with sweat, this is good enough for keeping track of which side is supposed to be in front. He also mentions his dislike of a silver attara due to the fact that it seems to imply the the main point of a talis is to cover one's head as opposed to ones body, which is against our final ruling of the gemara.

Interestingly, this same argument about whether to compare other mitzvos to the krashim in this sense (meaning, to take care to make sure that what's on top stays on top) is found with regards to marking one's succah walls, to make sure they end up facing toward the same compass direction. The Bikurei Yaakov dismisses this completely and the Mishna Berurah brings his opinion in the Biur Halacha. But in that same piece, the Bikurei Yaakov also dismissed the comparison between the talis and the krashim. So in fact, it's pretty hypocritical when we all sit in our succas without assigned walls while wearing our taleisim with ataras on.
Thats where the old excuse of minhag (tradition) comes in handy. We are "noheg" (have a tradition) to do this but not that.

  • My sukka has assigned walls. – Shokhet Sep 18 '14 at 21:43
  • @Shokhet north west etc? Everybody has numbers for ease of construction. But that doesn't count. – user6591 Sep 18 '14 at 22:04
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    Not labelled north west etc, but number 1 always starts south.....my father told me that we label them to be like the kerashim, that the boards facing north always faces north.... – Shokhet Sep 18 '14 at 22:26
  • @Shokhet sweet! – user6591 Sep 18 '14 at 22:48
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see here from Rabbi Eliezer Simcha Weisz

Question: Must a Talit have an Atara?

Answer: No - in the sense that you mean an Atara of silver etc. - usually there is a cloth on the Talit to indicate which side should be used for covering the head.

  • I wouldn't say "usually." A tallit lining is not uncommon, but certainly the majority of talleisim come without a lining. Various chassidic talleisim (Chabad, Belz, Echt Turkish, Kmo Turkish) come with a lining, and I know of one tallis made by Talitania that comes with a lining, but on most standard traditional wool talleisim the lining is an add-on option. – Ben of Ben's Tallit Shop Nov 12 '15 at 9:34
  • @Ben-Ben'sTallitShop, I don't this that R' Weisz is specifically talking about a lining. I think he might be referring to a cloth atarah as is found on most tallitot (except for the aforementioned Turkish and Chabad ones) – Noach MiFrankfurt Nov 13 '15 at 17:33
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of course. it is actual a specific custom not to have an embellished atarah. there is an idea of mitzvah b'hidur. there are two ways of looking at this. one way is to add something to make the mitzvah beautiful such as the embellished atarah or decorations on the walls of the sukkah.

the other view is the mitzvah itself is beautiful already and we fulfill the mitzvah b/hidur when we do so in the fullest manner.

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    Sources for your views would increase their value. – Avrohom Yitzchok Nov 14 '15 at 22:10

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