I go to Chabad but don't observe every Minhag. I'm 13 and wear a Tallis Gadol to begin with but when I tried putting it over my head I felt so connected to Hashem and I concentrated better. But would people look at me funny if I did this in a minyan? Is it halachically permitted?

  • In school, I used to put the tallis over my head (counter to my minhag) on Musaf of Rosh Chodesh, which blocked out 80% of distractions for the extra-special davening. But then people started copying me and joking around about it, and so I stopped. – user9907 Mar 14 '16 at 0:41
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    Some might say that's the only proper way to wear a tallis gadol – Daniel Mar 14 '16 at 0:47
  • @sabbahillel I think not a duplicate. That one asks for the source of the practice of not putting the tallis over the head and this one asks whether it's permitted to do so (regardless of the source). – Daniel Mar 14 '16 at 13:38
  • The accepted answer is that only married men put the tallis over their heads. Thus it answers this question as well. – sabbahillel Mar 14 '16 at 23:25
  • The Chassam sofer apparently permitted the bochurim at his yeshiva to wear their tallitot over their heads. No source on hand. – Noach MiFrankfurt Mar 17 '16 at 2:11

The Mishna Brurah 8:4 writes at the end:

משמע בגמרא שבחור לא היה מכסה ראשו בטלית אפילו הוא ת"ח

Loose translation : it seems from the gemara that an unmarried person shouldn't cover their head with a tallis even if they are a great Torah Scholar.

This seems to be the overwhelming custom of Ashkenazim.

For Sefardim it seems that it is encouraged to do so even if one is unmarried(Torah Scholar ) per the Kaf Hachaim 8:12:

עוד כתב המגן אברהם שם, משמע בקידושין כט ב שבחור שלא נשא אשה לא היה מכסה ראשו בטלית, אפילו הוא תלמיד חכם, עד כאן. אמנם הרמב"ם בסוף פרק ג מהלכות ציצית והא"ח דף ד' עמוד א' והכלבו סימן כ"ב דף ט"ו עמוד ג' כתבו כי גנאי גדול הוא לתלמיד חכם שיתפלל בלא עיטוף ראשו בטלית...

It seems from the Rambam that it is disgraceful for a Talmud chacham to daven without covering their head withat a tallis.

See the Kaf Hachaim which quotes many more sources on this issue.

  • I wouldn't assume בחור means unmarried. That is not usually its definition in Jewish literature. – mevaqesh May 22 '16 at 8:22

Its halachically permitted. There are minhagim against doing this for Ashkenazim, but the halacha is not on their side for this practice. A similar situation would be sleeping in the sukkah. Everyone is halachically mandated to sleep in the sukkah, but the main minhag in Ashkenaz was not to sleep in it. And so while they have now found halachic justifications to support their minhag, it is still a valid halachic decision to sleep in a sukkah. Same for the tallit. People might look at you funny, but you would have many sources to rely.

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    Sources for your claims would improve your post. – msh210 Mar 14 '16 at 2:56
  • I agree. (@msh210) – ezra Mar 14 '16 at 14:20

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