Introduction to Laws of Tallis

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Introduction:

Terminology:

The laws of this chapter relate to the garment of the Tallis, otherwise known as the Beged, and not to the fringes of the Tallis [to be explained in the next chapter]. In order for a Tallis to be Kosher, and hence enable one to fulfill the Mitzvah of Tzitzis through attaching fringes to its corners, it must contain a Kosher garment. In all the following laws whenever the term Beged or Tallis is used, it refers to the four cornered garment onto which the Tzitzis is tied. Whenever the term Tzitzis is used it refers to the fringes that are braided onto the garment. Depending on the context, at times the term Tallis or Tzitzis may be used to refer to a Kosher pair of Tzitzis which consists of a garment and fringes.

The Kashrus of a Tallis:

The Kashrus of a Tallis is dependent on various factors. The requirement to place Tzitzis on a four cornered garment only applies to garments that fulfill specific conditions. In addition, the tying of the strings to the corners must abide by specific regulations. Thus, the Kashrus of a Tallis is dependent on it being a Tzitzis requiring garment, and having valid Tzitzis attached to it. The following are the relevant ramifications of fulfilling these conditions:

  1. Saying a blessing and fulfilling the Mitzvah of Tzitzis: If one desires to fulfill the Mitzvah of Tzitzis he must verify that the Tallis he is wearing fulfills all the obligating conditions. If the garment does not fulfill all those conditions, then a blessing may not be recited upon wearing it, even if it contains Kosher Tzitzis. He is likewise not considered to be fulfilling the Mitzvah of Tzitzis.
  2. Wearing a four cornered garment without Tzitzis: If one desires to wear a four cornered garment that does not have Tzitzis, one must verify that it does not fulfill all the conditions necessary for a Tallis to require Tzitzis.
  3. Not to wear a four cornered garment with invalid Tzitzis: If the garment is obligated in Tzitzis, it is forbidden to wear it until Kosher Tzitzis are attached to its corners. If the Tzitzis does not fulfill all the required conditions, then it may not be worn if it is a Tzitzis requiring garment

This chapter will deal with the conditions necessary for a Tallis garment to be obligated in Tzitzis, and consequently which garments are exempt from Tzitzis. The next chapter will deal with the conditions needed to be met for the Tzitzis strings to be considered Kosher and valid to be attached to the corners of the Tallis. 

Being scrupulous in all matters:[1]

One is to be scrupulous in the Mitzvah of Tzitzis and try to fulfill it on its highest level. [Thus, in those cases to be explained in which there are lenient opinions, nevertheless one is to try to be scrupulous in these matters.]

The conditions required for a garment to be obligated in Tzitzis are as follows:

  1. Material: The garment is made of a Tzitzis requiring material. [Halacha 1]
  2. Corners: The garment contains four square corners. [Halacha 11]
  3. Slit: The slit in the garment that forms the corners is of minimum required length. [Halacha 8]
  4. Size: The size of the garment is of Tzitzis requiring size. [Halacha 7]
  5. Use: The use of the garment is for a Tzitzis requiring use. [Halacha 9]
  6. The garment does not contain an invalidating tear. [Halacha 13]

 

The custom today:[2]

The custom today is not to tie Tzitzis on any garment that is obligated in Tzitzis, other than a Tallis Gadol or Tallis Katan, and rather when a garment is obligated in Tzitzis, as explained in this Chapter, one is to either round one of the corners, or sew majority of the sides.

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[1] Igros Kodesh 14/229

[2] Piskeiy Teshuvos 10/8

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