Have you ever encountered in the wild (i.e. owned, considered purchasing in a store, seen worn by an observant Jewish man) a garment that requires tzitzit but that was not made for them (i.e. not a tallit gadol or tallit katan)?

If you've seen such a garment worn by an observant Jewish man, how was it handled? Were tzitzit added? Was the garment altered to remove the requirement?

I'm asking because it seems to me that this situation is rare in the modern Western world and therefore the relevant rules may be forgotten when it does come up, so it could be useful to have a collection of practical anecdotes, to spread awareness of both how the issue manifests in real life and how it can be dealt with. Also, I'm just curious about what people have seen.


11 Answers 11


A Mexican Poncho. Usually a large square of woven wool with a hole in the middle for the head to go through. Those almost certainly need tzitzis.

  • I recall once seeing someone wear this.
    – Seth J
    Jun 3 '13 at 13:53
  • @SethJ: With Tzitzit?
    – Menachem
    Jun 3 '13 at 14:19
  • Yes. I have seen many people wearing ponchos, in person, in photos, in cartoons when I was a kid, etc. But I have also once seen a poncho with Tzitzith.
    – Seth J
    Jun 3 '13 at 14:33

Rav Yoel Bin Nun famously slit the slides of his suit jacket rov open and attached tzitzit (with techelet) because he wants to be yotzei the mitzvah on his regular beged as is likely the intention of the pasuk. Source: I've seen him!

  • 5
    That's not exactly what I was asking for, but it's awesome!
    – Isaac Moses
    Nov 28 '11 at 19:38
  • Yes it is!! :-)
    – Double AA
    Nov 28 '11 at 20:03
  • 4
    Did you study at YH"'E?
    – Seth J
    Apr 29 '12 at 22:22
  • Did he alter the front corners of his jacket and accentuate the slit in the back, or did he create a new slit?
    – Seth J
    Jun 3 '13 at 13:50
  • 1
    @Dude Not sure, but i think the strings were white following the ashkenazi minhag.
    – Double AA
    Mar 27 '16 at 18:08

Back in the "Ugly 80's" there was this muscle shirt that had the sides slit all the way up until almost the armpits, creating a four cornered shirt. No one I saw wearing it knew or cared about Hilchos Tzitzis.

  • 6
    Hey man, don't mess with the 80s; they may come back to bite you...
    – yitznewton
    Dec 12 '11 at 20:46

When members of the Neturei Karta movement in Meah Shearim protest the State of Israel on Yom Ha'atzmaut, they dress in sackcloth, which has four corners (at least that's the current style). I noticed that at least one corner of every sackcloth garment was rounded off, but it could be because of the poor-quality sackcloth, which is in high demand around Yom Ha'atzmaut.

  • 7
    +1 for, if nothing else, "poor-quality sackcloth, which is in high demand around Yom Ha'atzmaut"!
    – msh210
    Feb 20 '12 at 6:00

I saw someone in Washington Hieghts, New York wearing a blanket with Tzitzit attached.

  • 1
    You sure it wasn't a tallit? Minhag Ashkenaz says that it should be worn somewhat similarly. Jul 30 '14 at 18:29

It's a common issue with kapotas as well. There too, the usual approach is to round off one of the corners.

  • Yup this was my problem. Had a Frock Coat with four square corners, had to to round one of them. Jan 15 '11 at 18:14
  • Interesting, hadn't really thought of that. May 13 '11 at 5:37
  • @RabbiMichaelTzadok You mean to say that you had to attach strings but decided to actively avoid doing a mitzva by rounding one of them.
    – Double AA
    Jan 19 '15 at 20:06
  • @DoubleAA If I recall correctly the problem with adding tzitzis to a coat would be whether they stay white or if they are the same color as the coat. Since this isn't clear it would appear better that the coat not meet the requirement for tzitzis
    – Dude
    Mar 1 '16 at 4:50
  • @Dude You and Rav Katina...
    – Double AA
    Mar 1 '16 at 4:52

Ok, here's a good one:

I was once part of a traveling Chanukah play (long story) in which I acted1 as an evil (didn't have to fake it too much >;-) ) king (you'll never guess which!)2. On one piece of the king's (very elaborate) costume (I think it was the cape) we had a safek on whether it needed tzitzis. Of course, we only realized this in between scenes. On the sixth performance. For a special-needs school. In Yehupitzville.

So one of the guys grabbed a scissors and rounded all of the corners. Just to be safe. We then finished the play and went on to perform it eight more times. In three days. In four cities. Good times!

(Sorry for stretching it out, I'm gearing up for Purim. =D)

1) I also sang and played the guitar. It's an interesting story. Remind me to tell you sometime.
2) Okay, fine, it was Achashverosh.

  • 6
    Pics or it didn't happen! :)
    – Alex
    Feb 20 '12 at 15:41
  • 1
    @Alex, be careful what you wish for, you might just get it! ;-) Feb 20 '12 at 16:11
  • Achashverosh wasn't necessarily evil, just foolish. :)
    – Alex
    Feb 24 '12 at 19:16
  • 1
    @Alex, Ugghh.... You killed it! Feb 24 '12 at 19:18
  • 1
    Ok, I'll be waiting for this story in chat :)
    – Daniel
    Jun 3 '13 at 14:45

Just a few days ago I saw a frock coat with a generous slit down the back and tried to eyeball it to see whether it came out to rov pasuach. Close call. Then I stole glances at the wearer, both front and back, in search of rounded corners and didn't see any. So I was dan lekav zechus and assumed the slit went less than halfway up.

If I understood correctly, according to Pe'er Halacha you count the lapels as corners, so there are actually six, which means you'd have to round off at least three.

  • A style of bekische I've seen on some Satmars is very long and if a corner or three are unrounded, it would be chayav tzitzit, at least derabbanan. Sep 7 '16 at 14:38

There are these rain coats that are sort of a large 4 cornered heavy material with snaps at the bottom. I saw someone who wore it and after someone pointed out to him that it may be a Shaila of Tzitzis he rounded off the corners.

  • 1
    Any chance you could point to a picture of this kind of coat?
    – Isaac Moses
    Jan 14 '11 at 18:08
  • I will see if I can get a photo Jan 14 '11 at 19:16
  • 2
    Unless the synthetic material was cut down to threads an rewoven, there would not be a shaila. It would be similar to leather which the Mishna Berura 10:11 brings as not requiring even d'rabanan: hebrewbooks.org/…
    – YDK
    Jan 16 '11 at 19:28
  • @YDK What about a nylon rain poncho with Ripstock? I a had a poncho like this once, and didn't know if it was considered woven or not, so I rounded off one of the corners.
    – Menachem
    May 30 '11 at 9:12

Although the final psak (minhag?) is that they are exempt from tzitzis, our coats that have 2 corners by the neck an 2 by the waist do not escape question. (Mishna Berurah 10:36)

Also, when I was learning to make tzitzis as a teen, I made a t-shirt chayav in tzitzis to use as a basketball jersey.


I once encountered a gentleman in a Trader Joe's store wearing a trench coat with Tzitzith on the corners.

However, they were almost certainly not Kosher.

Also, I believe the gentleman may have been a Christian missionary of some sort.

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