Posted by Ben G. on March 16, 2016
Sometimes wives dread the task of shopping for clothes for their husbands. "If he doesn't know how to buy himself clothes, how am I supposed to know?"
But on the other hand if the husband just won't go out and buy clothes there may be no alternative.
Sometimes a wife (or wife-to-be) wants to go out and buy her husband a new tallis, but doesn't know the ins and outs.
This week we got an inquiry from a wife who had a number of astute questions. Since others may have similar tallit questions, we're posting our answers here:
Why would someone wear 3/4 length tallit vs. full length?
Let me give you a real-life example. I'm 5'7" and I wear a size 60. It drapes down in back on me to mid-thigh. That's how most people like it. But some people think really long looks really elegant, so they go up a size. If I went up a size to a size 70, the tips of the tzitzit would be hovering just above the floor and I'd spend a lot of time adjusting the tallit on my shoulders.
I could also opt to go down a size to a size 55, which would hang down four inches less, to about the top of my thighs. I wouldn't do that because I think it looks a bit skimpy, but some people have different aesthetics and want the advantage of a very manageable tallit. In fact, sometimes you even see people who wear a tallit that barely reaches their belt.
What kind of tzitzit do most people do?
Most people order thick all-white tzitzit and have them tied according to the Ashkenazi custom because, well, they're Ashkenazi. In recent years some people have started using Ptil Tekhelet. That's a very complicated subject and I cannot elucidate here. If you think it's relevant, you might want to refer to our tzitzit wizard.
He likes the Yemenite Tallit. When it comes to fringes, what is the difference between netted and not netted? Is it just looks, or another significance?
Most tallits have a single row of fringes. Chassidic and Yemenite tallits often have double-knotted fringes. Some Yemenites have a custom of doing several rows of knots, which are normally referred to as "netted fringes." If you are Yemenite, you might have a family tradition regarding the fringes. If not, it's a matter of aesthetics. Why do the netted fringes add to the price? Because they are knotted by hand. It takes time and expertise.
What are tallit clips for?
Depending on various factors (e.g. what you wear, your build, the size of your tallit, the fabric) keeping the tallit propped up on your shoulders can be work. Using a clip in front can help. It's a personal thing. Some people wouldn't be caught dead with a clip, others might feel it's a necessity. Often you see them on the shamash of the synagogue, who is busy, busy, busy, or on bar mitzvah boys, because it adds flair.