Talleisim Minhagim & My Tallis
My family's shtetl was known for making talleisim. The yizkor book Yalkut Volhynia from 1948 states,
"Talleisim of Sudilkov were known internationally and their production was the main source of income for the townspeople. The people of Sudilkov believed that anyone who bore the family name Talisman or Talismacher certainly could trace their origin to Sudilkov. The silk and wool threads were brought from Lodz and in the local workshops, skilled craftsmen wove the talleisim. Traveling salesmen sold their product in all the Jewish communities both near and far".
I have been wearing a Chabad tallis since my wife and I got married in 1999. As I have slowly shed my Chabad minhagim over the past year, my Chabad tallis is the last remaining item of someone else's tradition.
For some reason, using a Chabad tallis continued to bother me and I started looking into replacing it with one similar to that which could have been made in Sudilkov. In September 2005, I asked Rabbi Lazer Brody if I should use a standard traditional tallis instead of my Chabad tallis. He replied, "Keep doing as you are - the tallis your wife bought you is a sgula for sholom bayis - don't change it!"
Recently, once again I strongly considered switching to a standard traditional tallis. I discussed my feelings and motivations for doing so with my friend Chabakuk Elisha. Chabakuk Elisha replied, "The Beis Yisroel of Ger used to say often that a item that has served you in kedusha needs to be respected."
Given the arguments of Rabbi Brody and Chabakuk Elisha, I have now decided once and for all to keep using my Chabad tallis. While it might not have similar to those made in my family's shtetl, it is my tallis; saturated with years of davening.
(Image courtesy of Sefer HaMinhagim)