The practice of wearing a tallit is prescribed in Numbers 15:
…The LORD said to Moses as follows: Speak to the Israelite people and instruct them to make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments throughout the ages; let them attach a cord of blue to the fringe at each corner. That shall be your fringe; look at it and recall all the commandments of the LORD and observe them, so that you do not follow your heart and eyes in your lustful urge. Thus you shall be reminded to observe all My commandments and to be holy to your God. I the LORD am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I, the LORD your God.
Elements of the tallit:
The tallit is made up of the garment (in our case, a piece of cotton that’s 75 inches long and 25 inches wide) with holes in each of the four corners in which to affix the tzitzit (the fringes). That’s basically it!
What about that band at the top of commercially-made tallitot?
That’s an atarah (Hebrew for “crown.”). On many tallitot, the atarah has part of the blessing we say when we put on a tallit, or another relevant line from the bible or liturgy. Guess what! The atarah is not required. I like to think of it as a “this end up” label. Because the tallit could be worn upside down (right? It’s a rectangle), if the design does not indicate the direction the garment should be worn, you need a way to know if you’re wearing it the right way – hence the use of the atarah. But if your design has a clear right or wrong direction, you don’t have to have an atarah. Because we don’t know if you’ll need/want one or not, the tallitot we buy do not have a separate atarah. If you want to have one, include it in your design – and leave room for it when you paint.
Here is some inspiration from previous years:
Now that we’ve talked a little about the tallit, let’s start designing!