I am in the process of conversion and I've been told by my Rabbi that I can't wear a Tallit nor a Tallit Katan until I am officially Jewish.

His reasoning is that it's a Mitzvah and not relevant until I'm a Jewish.

For me, I want to keep as many mitzvot as I can in my everyday life and how can I live a Jewish life if I can't observe all mitzvot or at least aspire to observe as many as I can.

I should say that it's a liberal Rabbi in the UK ( there aren't many options on congregations and conversion where I live) and having visited other synagogues and been given a Tallit to wear by different Rabbis, I have to question what I'm being taught.

Many thanks for taking time to answer.

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    Hello and welcome. Thank you for your question. However, on this site we refrain from asking personal questions. Maybe you can edit out the personal aspects of the question to make it more general. This will greatly add to the chance that your question will be answered and thus helping you find an answer your looking for. – Shoel U'Meishiv May 25 '15 at 8:11
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    Just a couple of things to clarify: The clergymen said you can't? Or dont need to. Because according to halacha, pretty much the only thing you can't do is keep a full halachic shabbat. are you doing a full orthodox conversion? If you feel uneasy regarding the knowledge of this clergymen maybe you should seek out a different fully orthodox Beit din and rest easy that the conversion is being done to the highest standards. I'm sure there are resources that are available towards that process. Best of luck! – Shoel U'Meishiv May 25 '15 at 8:14
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    The UK does have a London Bais Din under the auspices of the Chief Rabbi whose geirus is accepted everywhere. There should be no need for you to have to go to a 'liberal' rabbi. I would be rather surprised if this rabbi himself wore a tallis koton. – cham May 26 '15 at 8:18
  • Mefaresh, I am doing a liberal conversion because the orthodox conversion in the UK requires a 6 month period of living with an approved family in London and this is totally impractical. A tge Rabbi said I can't wear a tallit it tallit katan. His credentials aren't in any doubt as he's a well respected lecturer at the Leo beck college and has worked with Lord Jonathan Sacks. I am hoping to hear from the Sephardic beth din regarding conversion with them as they are orthodox but do long distance courses. – Paul Mcphail May 28 '15 at 1:01

The Rambam rules that B'nai No'ach (and, how much more so, those in the coversion process) can accept upon themselves any of the mitzvos. The Radvaz suggests that he not take on those mitzvos that require kedusha or tahara such as Tefillin, Sefer Torah or Mezuzah. Tzitzis do not have kedusha.

Here is an interesting thought (at least I think it is:) The question is raised as to how Avraham Avinu could have kept Shabbos as a Ben No'ach. One answer that is given is that he wore tzitzis in a reshus ha'rabim (a public place.) The logic goes that, if Avraham is a Jew and required to observe Shabbos then the tzitzis on his four cornered garment are necessary and he has not carried in the reshus ha'rabbim. If, on the other hand, he is not Jewish then the tzitzis are unnecessary attachments to his garment and he would be carrying and violating Shabbos thus exempting him from being a Noahide observing our Shabbos.

So, you can attach whatever significance you want to Avraham's tzitzis.

  • But in conclusion, Avraham wasn't a Jew and thus he didn't keep Shabbat. You sound like there is some doubt about the matter. (Incidentally, did 600000 people even exist in the world by then since the flood? Let alone all walk down the same street daily.) – Double AA May 26 '15 at 21:37
  • Lehalacha though, the Tzitzis strings would not be considered carrying. The Beis Yosef writes that wearing Tzitzis that are Pasul are not considered carrying. – HaLeiVi May 26 '15 at 22:44
  • It seems to me that the definition of a reshus ha'rabbim must have been different then. – MichaelKatz May 27 '15 at 22:02
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    @MichaelKatz on what basis do you assert such a thing? Reshus Harabim is clearly defined and doesn't seem to be subject to change – Shoel U'Meishiv May 31 '15 at 20:54
  • @Mefaresh The Rambam holds that a desert or forest is a reshus ha'rabbim even without a population of 600,000. Besiedes, in a world with a much smaller population than at the time of the Exodus, the number needed for a reshus ha'rabbim would also be smaller. – MichaelKatz Jun 1 '15 at 17:59

Yes, you can wear a Tallis/Tzitzis since the Tallis itself has no holyness, it is just an instrument of a Mitzva (תשמישי מצווה) furthermore, the fear for companionship with a Jew (שמא יתלווה לישראל בדרך) is also not relevant since we are talking about a proselyte who intends to join Kehal Hashem.

See further info in details in Mishnat Hager (Ch. 1, 32).

Another word of advice: there are plenty of organisations who support Geirim during their path, I would re-consider taking advice from any liberal "Rabbi" who usually means he is not familiar with the Halacha (or worse, has personal opinions on what's right or wrong, in contrast with what Hashem has commanded in the Oral Tora).

Good luck mate, and welcome aboard :)

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