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Today is Yud-Tes Kislev, the anniversary of the day the Alter Rebbe of Lubavitch1 was released from prison. I once heard that his chassidim sold their silver ataros on their tallisos to pay for his bail, and this is the reason the Chabad custom is to not have an atarah on the tallis.2 What is the source for this rumor?


1. Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, also known as the "Ba'al HaTanya".

2. This is doubtful the reason why this is the minhag, but it's an interesting story nonetheless. I believe the real reason is because we don't want to distract ourselves from the real beauty of the tallis, the tzitzis, by which the entire tallis is necessary, with a flashy atarah. Or, as brought down in the Aruch HaShulchan (thanks @user sam) to not mistakenly think that the ikkar of the mitzvah is atifas rosh.

2

In Ashkavta D'Rebbe by R' Moshe Dovber Rivkin (footnote 17), R' Rivkin saw that Chabad Chassidim do not have an Atara on their Tallit. But he knows the story that when the Alter Rebbe was in jail, the chassidim sold their Ataras and gave the money to the Baal HaTanya's legal fund.

This means that there was a time when Chabad Chassidim did have Ataras on their Tallit. In order to resolve this contradiction, R' Rivkin posits that that was when they stopped.


The footnote also goes through the pros and cons of having an Atara, based on whether the Tzitit on the front of the Tallit must always be worn in the front (different opinions of the Shalah HaKadosh and the Ari HaKadosh whether the Tzitzit on the Tallit are like the Pillars in the Mishkan, which each had a specific place).

R' Rivkin then concludes that the Chabad custom has the best of all worlds, because it does not have a silver Atara, which would be a problem according to the Levush, but they do always keep the front of the Tallit as the front [perhaps referring to the silk lining that goes on the underside of the Tallit that the head goes under (see here)].


All these opinions are brought and discussed in more detail in R' Yochanan Gurary's sefer Chikrei Minhagim, you can see it on page 17 here.

You can also see a summary of some the opinions in English here.

  • Good sleuthing, but where did R' Rivkin hear the story from? – ezra Nov 28 '18 at 6:52
  • are you asking where do we know that the chassidim sold their ataras or are you asking where do we know that that is the reason chabad chassidim don't have ataras? – Menachem Nov 28 '18 at 6:57
  • The former, where do we know that the chassidim sold their ataros? – ezra Nov 28 '18 at 6:58
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    he writes there "according to a story accepted by chabad chassidim". Also, see hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=39163&pgnum=34 (Likutei Diburim vol 1) where the Previous Rebbe describes the steps taken by chassidim when the arrest happened. He writes that the chassidim took inventory of all their gold and silver, and wrote a sales contract and gave it to the committee, so that they could easily take it if the need arose. It does not say there whether they took the money or not, nor does it mention Ataras specifically. – Menachem Nov 28 '18 at 8:39

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