This article is an excerpt from our Sefer
Buy now on Amazon.com
The Blessing over a Tallis Gadol: 
The Nussach of the blessing: The dialect of the blessing Lehisatef Betzitzis is to be read with a Patach under the letter Beis of Tzitzis, “Lehisatef Batzitzis”. [Other Poskim however rule it is to be recited with a Shiva under the Beis as “Lehisatef Betzitzs”. In the Siddur, Admur rules like this latter opinion that it is to be recited with a Sheva under the Beis as “Lihisatef Betzitzs”, and so is the Chabad custom.]
When does one begin to recite the blessing on the Tallis Gadol? When one begins to wrap the Tallis, prior to completely wrapping it, one recites the blessing of Lehisatef Betzitzis. [The Chabad custom is as follows: After checking the Tzitzis, the Tallis is unfolded and opened wide. One then kisses its upper edge, and swings it around from the position in which it was held in front of him, until it is hanging behind him. At this point, while the Tallis is behind him, the blessing of Lehisatef is begun. The blessing is recited slowly and is only concluded in proximity to wrapping the two right corners around the neck, over the shoulder of his left side.]
How to wear the Tallis Gadol and how to perform Atifas Yishmaelim: See Chapter 1 Halacha 14B!
The blessing of Lehisatef Betzitzis is recited upon wearing a Tallis Gadol. The order of the blessing is as follows: After checking the Tzitzis, the Tallis is unfolded and opened wide. One then kisses its upper edge, and swings it around from the position in which it was held in front of him, until it is hanging behind him. At this point, while the Tallis is behind him, the blessing of Lehisatef is begun. The blessing is recited slowly and is only concluded close to when one wraps the two right corners around the neck, over the shoulder of his left side.
If one is not performing the Yishmaeli wrap with the Tallis Gadol, what blessing is he to recite?
If one does not plan to perform the Yishmaeli wrap [such as due to lack of knowledge], and rather plans to simply wear the Tallis over his head and shoulders, he is nevertheless to recite the blessing of Lehisatef Betzitzis.
If one accidently wore the Tallis Gadol without a blessing, may he still say the blessing of Lehisatef afterwards?
If one said the blessing of Al Mitzvas Tzitzis on a Tallis Gadol is he Yotzei?
 8/2; Michaber 8/5
 The word Tzitzis is mentioned and not Tallis, as the main Mitzvah is performed with the actual Tzitzis.
 The reason: The reason the Sages instituted to recite the dialect of “Lehisatef Betzitzis” is disputed in the Poskim. Some Poskim rule it is because the Tallis is only obligated in Tzitzis when worn in a Yishmaeli wrap, called Atifa. [Admur 8/5 in name of Geonim] Other Poskim however rule that a Tallis is obligated in Tzitzis even when it is not worn in a Yishmaeli wrap, and the reason the dialect of the blessing is “Lehisatef” is because it was the custom in the times of the Sages which established this blessing, to wrap their heads in the Tallis. Even in their times they did not wrap their heads in the Tallis in a Yishmaelic wrap, but rather [they covered their heads with the Tallis] as is commonly done by people that wrap themselves in their clothing and go about their work. At times they cover their heads and at times their heads are uncovered. Therefore we also, although we recite the dialect of “Lehisatef Betzitzis”, nevertheless we do not have to wrap ourselves more [that the original Sages]. [Admur 8/6]
 8/2; M”A 8/7 in name of Bach 24; Matzos Shmurim p.23; Siddur Ari; Siddur Shelah; Siddur Yaavetz; Siddur Gr”a; Piskeiy Maharitz Yemen; Artzos Hachaim 8; Kitzur SHU”A 9/8; Aruch Hashulchan 8/3; Toras Chaim Sofer 8/7; custom of Chazon Ish; Poskim in Kaf Hachaim 8/19; Even Yisrael 9/63
 The reason: As the Patach hints to the “known Tzitzis” of Techeiles”, as well as it is grammatically more correct. [Bach ibid; Artzos Hachaim 8; See Machatzis Hashekel 24/7 that it is proper to remember the Techeiles within the blessing]
 Siddur Admur; Levush 8/1 brought in M”A ibid; Elya Raba 8/1; Olas Tamid 8/6; Machazik Bracha 8/7; Shaareiy Teshuvah 8/5; Ben Ish Chaiy Bereishis 2; M”B 8/1; Poskim in Kaf Hachaim 8/19 and so concludes the Kaf Hachaim that is the main opinion; See Shaar Hakolel 2/5
 The reason: As Batzitzis implies “the known Tzitzis” which is the Techeiles, and is thus considered a lie. [Levush ibid] Furthermore, based on grammar the Sheva is more proper. [Levush ibid; Shaar Hakolel 2/5]
 Sefer Haminhagim p. 10 [English]
 8/2; So also rules: Elya Raba 8/1; See also Levush 8/1; Taz 643/2; implication of Michaber 8/1; Poskim in Piskeiy Teshuvos 8 footnote 46 that one first at least begins the wrapping before the blessing.
Ruling of Admur in Siddur-Before begin to wrap: In the Siddur Admur states “Prior to beginning to wrap one is to say the blessing”. Hence while in the Shulchan Aruch Admur rules to first begin the wrap before the blessing, in the Siddur he rules to do the entire blessing before even beginning the wrap, as rule the other Poskim listed below. Our custom in Sefer Haminhagim seemingly follows both opinions, as we begin the blessing before the wrap and continue it throughout the wrapping.
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule one is to say the entire blessing prior to even beginning to wear the Tallis. [implication of Siddur Admur; Divrei Nechemia 9; Shagas Aryeh 32; Majority of Achronim recorded in M”B 8/2; Kaf Hachaim 8/3; Custom of Rebbe Rashab as heard from Rav Eliyahu Landa, in name of the Ishkavta Derebbe] Some say this means while the Tallis is in front of the person [custom of Rebbe Rashab], in his hand, while others say this means while the Tallis is behind ones back, spread open. Practically the worldly custom is like this latter opinion. [See Piskeiy Teshuvos 8/5 footnote 43] Other Poskim rule one is to say the blessing after wearing the Tallis [Michaber 8/1]
 The reason: As one must recite the blessing prior to fulfilling the Mitzvah, and hence the blessing must be recited prior to completing the wrapping. [Admur ibid based on 25/17]
When is the beginning of the wrap? See Sheiris Yehuda 1 and Piskeiy Teshuvos 8 footnote 43 for the meaning of this statement, and if it means to say the blessing while the Tallis is by one’s back, as is the Chabad custom to begin the blessing at that time, or if it means while it is already being wrapped, but just not like Atifa Yishmaeli with the Tzitzis thrown behind ones back, or prior to holding the Tzitzis in ones hands [as rules Taz ibid].
 The Rebbe Rashab was accustomed to kiss the Tallis three times. [Ishkavta Derebbe p. 21]
 Sefer Haminhgagim p. 10 [English]; Hayom Yom p. 85 [5th Elul]; See Sheiris Yehuda 1; Divrei Nechemia 9
The reason behind our custom: Seemingly our custom suspects for all the above opinions, as we begin the blessing before even beginning to wrap it on our body, as rule majority of Achronim ibid, and we conclude the blessing after it is mostly already wrapped on our body, as rule the Taz ibid and others. Alternatively, it is due to question as to what is considered the beginning of the wrapping. [see Sheiris Yehuda ibid]
Previous Chabad tradition: In previous times, the Chabad custom was to place the Tallis over the head from in front recite and then recite the entire blessing, and only afterwards was the Atifa performed. [Siddur Admur; Divrei Nechemia 9; Custom of Rebbe Rashab as heard from Rav Eliyahu Landa, in name of the Ishkavta Derebbe].
 See Admur 8/29 [regarding if Tallis Gadol was replaced during Shemoneh Esrei]; M”A 8/12; P”M 8 A”A 12; Piskeiy Teshuvos 8/5 and 21; See Chayeh Adam 12/4 that one may even initially say this blessing on a Tallis Katan!
 The reason: As Admur 8/5-6 explains that the main ruling follows the opinion that states one is not required to do Ituf, and the wording of Lehisatef is going on the covering of the head. Vetzaruch Iyun why Rama/Admur rules to recite Al Mitzvas Tzitzis by a Tallis Katan even if it is large enough to perform the Atifa and he simply chooses not to do so, if we rule like the opinion that holds one is not required to do Atifa, as explained above! [See Chayeh Adam ibid that for this reason rules one may recite Lihisatef oin a Tallis Katan even initially!] Perhaps the explanation is that even according to the lenient opinion in order to say the blessing of Lehisatef it must at the very least be a type of Tallis that is at times worn over the head, however a Tallis Katan that is never worn over the head is not valid to recite Lehisatef.
If he does not plan to wear the Tallis Gadol over his head at all: If one does not plan to cover his head at all with the Tallis Gadol, even during the blessing, then Tzaruch Iyun if the blessing of Lihisatef may be recited. [See Radbaz 1/143; Shaareiy Teshuvah 8/3 “If one does not cover the head when wearing the Tallis by the blessing, he has not fulfilled the blessing.” However seemingly he is referring to the case of the Maasas Binyamin, in which only the shoulders are covered and not the body at all. See Chayeh Adam ibid Vetzaruch Iyun!]
 Admur 8/29 [regarding if Tallis Gadol was replaced during Shemoneh Esrei]; M”A 8/12; P”M 8 A”A 12; Kaf Hachaim 8/42; Piskeiy Teshuvos 8/5 and 21
The reason: As Admur 8/5-6 explains that the main ruling follows the opinion that states one is not required to do Ituf, and the wording of Lehisatef is going on the covering of the head.
Other Poskim: Some Poskim rule that in such a case one is to recite the blessing of Al Mitzvas Tzitzis. [Levush brought in Kaf Hachaim ibid]
 Admur ibid; and 18/7 and 8/20; Michaber 8/10
The reason why one is not required to remove the Tzitzis and re-wear it for the blessing: One who shakes the Tzitzis is considered like one who is wearing it anew. [Admur 18/7 and 8/20 and 29; 30/3 regarding Tefillin]
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that one is to remove the Tallis completely and then perform Atifas Yishmaelim with a blessing as usually done when wearing it for the first time. [Mordechai in Hilchos Tefillin; Mateh Efraim 581/14; Kaf Hachaim 18/23 “One who does so is blessed”; See Bach that shaking only helps by Tefillin and not by Tzitzis]
 Zera Emes 1/2
 Chayeh Adam 12/4; M”B 8/30; Poskim in Kaf Hachaim 8/20
 Kaf Hachaim 8/20