A Critical Concerns Surrounding The Tallit's Male Dominated Origins

2013 Words9 Pages
When we walk into the sanctuary of any synagogue, the first sights we most likely see are the aron hakodesh, the eternal lamp, and every man in the congregation wearing a tallit, the ritual prayer shawl worn during weekday and Shabbat morning services. Now, we might also see women wearing the tallit, too. In more recent years, women in synagogue have begun to wear the tallit as a movement towards egalitarianism, taking religious practice into their own hands and projecting a personal style to boot. In this paper, we will explore the critical concerns surrounding the tallit’s male-dominated origins, the move by women to wear the tallit on practical and symbolic levels, and the tallit as a method of personal expression. The Origins of the Tallit Based on the sea of tallitot we observe on men and women’s shoulders in synagogue, we might think that the tallit has Biblical roots. Understanding where the tallit, and the commandment to wear it, come from, however, requires both closer analytical and physical examination. The actual commandment is to wear tzitzit, or fringes, on the corners of our garments: Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them throughout their generations fringes in the corners of their garments, and that they put with the fringe of each corner a thread of blue. (Numbers 15:38) This passage, which also appears in the blessings of the Shema, commands the wearing of tzitzit as a reminder to fulfill the mitzvoth and commandments in

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