A keffiyeh is a rectangular piece of fabric traditionally worn by members of the Edot haMizrach and Arabs. However, none of the photos I've seen of B'nei Edot haMizrach and Teimanim wearing these garments (often in a turban rather than the styles associated with B'nei Yishmael) seem to have tzitzit attached to them, despite the fact that they are significantly larger than scarves.

This leads me to wonder: is a keffiyeh chayav [obligated in] tzitzit?

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    Around what parts of the body is it worn? Just the head?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 17:32
  • Yes it is obligated. And in fact a tallit was originally worn by many the same way as a keffiyeh is worn now. But for some reason the custom changed
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 17:46
  • As a side note, your question seems to suggest that you think a scarf would be obligated in tzitzit. See Shulkhan Arukh 10:11
    – Daniel
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 17:57
  • @Daniel, no, I realise that a scarf is not chayav, however I figured it was a good reference point for size Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 21:50

1 Answer 1


Shulkhan Arukh, OC 10:10 explicitly rules that a turban is exempt from tzitzit, even if it covers the majority of the wearer's body.

מִצְנֶפֶת פְּטוּרָה, אֲפִלּוּ שֶׁל אַרְצוֹת הַמַּעֲרָב שֶׁב' רָאשֶׁיהָ מֻשְׁלָכִים עַל כִּתְפֵיהֶם וְגוּפָם, וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמִּתְכַּסֶה בָּהּ רֹאשׁוֹ וְרֻבּוֹ פָּטוּר, כֵּיוָן שֶׁעִקָּרָהּ לְכַסוֹת הָרֹאשׁ, דִּכְסוּתְךָ אָמַר רַחֲמָנָא וְלֹא כְּסוּת הָרֹאשׁ.

A turban is exempt, even those from the Western lands where both its sides are tossed over their shoulders and body, even though one covers with it one's head and majority [of body] one is exempt, because its main purpose is to cover the head, and the Torah requires "your coverage" but not the coverage of the head.

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    I don't think a turban (מצנפת) is the same as a keffiyah. A keffiyah is more actually like a small talit. But it is still prohibited. The idea is that by all opinions it doesn't fit the definition of "atifah" which is to primarily wrap around the body. See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Orach Chaim, 8:8, 10. hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=25072&st=&pgnum=63 Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 19:48
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    @YaacovDeane The reason a מצנפת is exempt from tzitzit is because its purpose is to cover the head rather than the body. This is the case for a keffiya. I'm not sure what the technical definitions of either English term are, but I am pretty confident that the reasoning of the SA here applies equally to a keffiya if it is not, in fact, exactly the same thing (or a subset) as a turban.
    – Daniel
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 19:51
  • That's why you got my up vote. The SA points out with the turban that it also covers the shoulders and the majority of the body. Strictly speaking, that could fall under the definition of 'atifah'. But he sets it apart saying that its intent is to cover the head only. "The Merciful One says to cover you, not the head." Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 20:00
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    @YaacovDeane "But it is still prohibited." What is prohibited?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 20:11
  • @DoubleAA Perhaps I should have said 'But it is still not to be used.'. The actual language the Alter Rebbe uses in regard to people who would put tzitzit on these very small talitot is "צריך למחות בידם", it requires protesting. That seems stronger than 'patur'. Women are 'pater' from time bound mitzvot, but you don't protest, for example, when they take up the lulav. Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 20:50

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