Should the tallit neckband include the Tzitzit Blessing?

20th Feb 2019

Sometimes we get customers who are under the impression that the tallit neckband ("atara") must have the Tzitzit Blessing (which they typically refer to as "the Hebrew prayer," though it's not really a prayer). Here's a recent inquiry:

I wondered if it was customary to not place the prayer on the tallit? Thanks, Gabriella

I explained to Gabriella that in fact, where I pray, nobody has the Tzitzit Blessing on the atara! I'm not sure what she meant by "customary." If you look at older tallits, you'll never find it. 

In recently decades the tallit manufacturers have been using it as a design element on many of their tallits. You won't find it on the more traditional blue-, black- and white-striped tallits, but you will find it on say blue-silver, blue-gold, white-silver, white-gold, etc. Also, some of the top-end manufactured tallits use striping on the atara, not the Tzitzit Blessing design (see here and here and here, for instance). These striped atarot are more expensive to make than the ones with the blessing, which we sell separately for just $7.50, see here.

When it comes to Gabrieli hand-woven tallits, they have always (i.e. for five decades) made tallits with striping on the atara. These are also hand-woven. We sell them separately for $45 (see here). Occasionally we do get requests to put an atara with the blessing on a Gabrieli tallit, but in my opinion it detracts from the tallit, because it's very hard to find a high-quality hand-woven atara with high-quality letter embroidery. And if you were to put any other atara on, it might not look quite right against a hand-woven tallit.

It seems like Gabrieli has identified an interest in a top-quality atara with the blessing embroidered on it. Recently they launched a new, very expensive line with several new features, including a nice atara with the Tzitzit Blessing.

Beyond the aesthetic factors, in my opinion, putting the Tzitzit Blessing on a tallit has never made sense to me from a halachic perspective. When you don a tallit, ideally you should hold it behind you, right above your shoulders, when you recite the bracha -- so why have the Tzitzit Blessing on the atara where you're not going to be able to see it when you need it?! (In halachic terms, this is referred to as לפני דליפני).