Color of Tallis and Tzitzis

To Purchase this Sefer [1]

Do the garment and fringes need to be the same color?[2] Some Poskim[3] are of the opinion that the fringes and garment must be the same color.[4] Thus, if the Tallis is red then the Tzitzis must also be red, and if the Tallis is green, then the Tzitzis must also be green. Others[5] however hold that it is not necessary for the Tallis and fringes to match in color.[6] Practically, the final Halachic ruling follows this latter opinion, and so is the accepted custom in these provinces to tie white fringes to even colored Talleisim[7], and it is no longer customary at all to make colored strings.[8] Nevertheless, it is proper for every meticulous individual to specifically wear a matching color Tallis and Tzitzis in order to fulfill ones obligation according to all opinions. Therefore, since we always make the strings white, one is to be particular to wear a white Tallis Katan.

Which color is most appropriate?[9] The custom is for the Tzitzis [fringes] to be white.[10] Although from the letter of the law the Tallis [garment] may be made of any color [as explained above], nevertheless it is proper for every meticulous individual to specifically wear a white Tallis Katan and Gadol.[11]  Hence in total, both the fringes and the garment should be white.

 

Summary:

Those which desire to fulfill the Mitzvah of Tzitzis according to all opinions are to wear a pair of Tzitzis in which both the Tallis and its Tzitzis are of white material.

 

Q&A

Is there a problem to wear a colored Tallis Katan, such as the green IDF Tallis Katan distributed to soldiers?

It is best not to wear a colored Tallis [Katan or Gadol] as there are opinions which rule that also the fringes must be of that color, as explained above, and today the color of all Tzitzis is white. This is in addition to the issues mentioned previously regarding wearing a Tallis made of cotton material.

 

Why do we have black stripes on the Tallis Katan/Gadol?

Some Poskim[12] write that one is to have black stripes placed on the bottom of the Tallis in commemoration of the Techeiles, and so is the Ashkenazi custom. Other Poskim[13] however write that one is to make the entire Tallis white without any black stripes and so is the Sefaradi custom.

The width of the black stripes:[14] There is an old Chabad custom that relates to the amount of thickness which the black stripes of the Tallis are to contain. In the previous generation, the Talleisim manufactured by the Chassidim Rav Mordechai Chefetz of Riga and Rav Elchanon Marazov, followed this Chabad tradition. It is recalled of the Rebbe Rayatz that when he was in Eretz Yisrael he ordered a Tallis that follows this exact measurement followed in Lubavitch. Over the years, this measurement of thickness was lost and there are few Chassidim that still have the original Talleisim made by the above manufacturers.

Covering the stripes: It is not necessary to hide the black stripes of the Tallis Gadol upon wearing it.[15] One is to avoid doing so if it will cause the back of the Tallis to be less than 50 cm wide.

 

Is an old Tallis that has changed color not to be worn initially due to its lack of white?[16]

A Tallis which has changed color due to sweat, laundering, or use, is still considered white.[17] Nevertheless, it is proper to buy a new white Tallis in order to beautify the Mitzvah. Some[18] however were particular to never change their Tallis Gadol, even if it changed color due to sweat or age. 

 

What is the law if dye or paint spilled on one’s Tallis and caused it to receive a stain?[19]

If a part of one’s Tallis or Tzitzis became stained, and it does not come off in the wash, it is nevertheless valid to be worn even initially, and fulfills the color requirements explained above. Nevertheless, if the Tallis no longer looks presentable, then it should be switched due to Zeh Keili Veanveihu.

 

May one embroider verses onto a Tallis?[20]

No. It is forbidden to embroider verses of the Torah onto a Tallis.[21] Nevertheless, in the event that one did so, the Tallis may be worn so long as one treats it with the proper respect it now requires.[22]


[1] 9/9; Michaber/Rama 9/5

[2] 9/9

[3] 1st opinion Admur ibid; Michaber 9/5; Levush 9/5; Rashi Menachos 41b; Rambam Tzitzis 2/8

[4] The reason: As the Torah states “Min Kenaf” which teaches us that the Tzitzis must be similar to the corner, hence implying that also the color of the fringes must be similar to the color of the corners. [Admur ibid]

[5] 2nd opinion Admur ibid; Rama 9/5; Tosafus Menachos ibid; Rashba 3/280; Tur 9; Hagahos Maimanis 3/6 in name of Maharam; brought in Levush 9/5

[6] The reason: As the Torah was only particular that the material of the fringes be similar to the material of the Tallis. However regarding the color, the Torah was never particular at all that the fringes match in color with the Tallis. [Admur ibid]

[7] Admur ibid; Rama 9/5

The reason: The reason they use specifically white fringes, is to emulate the color of the Tallis of Hashem, as explained in the coming footnotes.

[8] 15/16

[9] Admur ibid; M”A 9/6 in name of Bach; Taz 9/8

[10] Admur ibid; Rama ibid “One may not swerve from this custom”

The reason: Chazal [Rosh Hashanah 17b] state that Moshe saw Hashem wearing a Tallis like a Chazan, and it states in the verse that “His garments are white like snow”. [Admur ibid; M”A ibid regarding the Tallis] Based on Kabala the color white represents mercy and atonement. [See Maharsha R”H 17b; Rabbeinu Bechayeh Shelach -end; Or Hachaim Shelach-end] The Tzitzis are white is because they represent the level of “Rav Chesed”, Chesed that is above Atzilus. [Likkutei Torah Korach “Vayikach Korach” page 104]

[11] The reason: Since the fringes are made white due to the reason mentioned above, it is therefore proper for every meticulous individual to also have a white Tallis Gadol and Katan in order so it match the white color of the Tzitzis, and hence fulfill ones obligation according to all. [Admur ibid; Taz ibid] Thus, one is to wear a white Tallis to correspond to the white Tallis which Moshe saw G-d wearing, and in addition he is to do so in order to fulfill ones obligation according to all. [It is implied from the wording of Admur that this color of white mainly applies to the Tzitzis and not the Tallis, and the white color of the garment is simply for it to match in color with the fringes, as requires the stringent opinion. Vetzaruch Iyun from M”A ibid which implies the Tallis is also to be white due to the Tallis of Hashem.]

[12] Leket Yosher p. 12 in name of Terumas Hadeshen; Elya Raba 9/5 in name of his grandfather; brought in P”M 9 A.A. 6; M”B 9/16

The reason: This is done to emulate the Techeiles and serve as a reminder of the Mitzvah. Doing so does not impair the validity of the Tzitzis in accordance to those that rule that the Tzitzis and garment must be the same color, as majority of the garment is in truth white.

Coloring the corners: It is proper not to place any black stripes on the corner of the Tallis, as according to some views we follow the color of the corners regarding the required color of the Tzitzis. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos 9 footnote 48]

[13] Chida in Birkeiy Yosef 9/2 [Shiyurei Bracha]; Shaareiy Teshuvah 9/2 in name of Rashal; Chesed Lealafim 9/3; Kaf Hachaim 9/15; However see Ben Ish Chaiy Noach 2 which says there is no need to be particular against Techeiles colored stripes. The Kitzur Shlah Chulin rules that on Shabbos one is to wear a Tallis Gadol that is completely white, while during the week it is to be with black stripes. [See Beir Heiytiv 264/4; Kaf Hachaim 264/4]

[14] Correspondence Harav Yaakov Landa with Rebbe, brought in Shemuos Vesippurim 1/353. The Rebbe asked Rav Landa as to whether there is any truth in this custom and if it should be followed. Rav Landa answered as brought above.

[15] Rav Eliyahu Landa Shlita; Regarding why the Rebbe was seen to do so, Rav Eliyahu Landa explains that this was so the Tallis does not slip.

[16] Piskeiy Teshuvos 9/6

[17] Ashel Avraham Butchach 9

[18] So is told of the Taz that when he was approached with a new Tallis he refused to wear it, claiming that his Tallis contains the sweat of all of his prayers, and hence he did not want to switch it.

[19] See Shevet Hakehasi 2/9; Piskeiy Teshuvos 9/6

[20] See Shaareiy Teshuvah 24/4; Kaf Hachaim 24/24

[21] Michaber Yoreh Deah 283/4

The reason: As it is forbidden to write a verse of the Torah unless it is in a Sefer. [Taz 283/3; Admur 638/20] Alternatively, the reason is because one may come to enter it into a bathroom, or to cover his Erva. [Taz ibid]

[22] Ginas Veradim 1/25-28; Shesilei Zeizim, 10; Shaareiy Teshuvah ibid; For example one may not sit on the area where the verses are written. One may not enter with it into a bathroom.

 

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