Monday, May 08, 2006

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)


At May 8, 2006 at 2:21:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you delineate exactly any and all ways the Lubavitch tallis differs from the standard one ?

Re your sheila - I would suggest asking a moreh horaah. It is a halachic sheila, not just a question of feelings, which you might poll your friends on. It should be treated as such.

At May 8, 2006 at 4:58:00 PM EDT, Blogger Mottel said...

The Chabad talis lacks a cloth or metal atarah (though it does have one of sorts underneath made of silk) as well as slightly different sets of stripes and the chulios are as pictured here.
That's m'tzad minhag.
M'tzad halacha it has a second hole through which the shamash is pulled in order to keep the tzitziah close to the talis in the proper way.

At May 8, 2006 at 5:08:00 PM EDT, Blogger Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

"Shed" Chabad minhogim? are you a snake, and are Minhogim skin that are meant to be shed? for shame, for shame!

At May 8, 2006 at 5:49:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hershel,what's the problem,he's just growing into his own skin. :)

I think it's generally a good idea that ASJ is exploring the way of his ovos and in some cases returning to it. The question is if perhaps this case can and should be excepted from that general trend. That should be decided by a proper posek.

At May 8, 2006 at 5:50:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mottel - thanks for the explanation.

At May 8, 2006 at 6:31:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Anonymous: I did ask a rav...Rabbi Brody. As the talmid muvhak for the Melitzer Rebbe he helps answer shailos. I am confident that he is qualified).

Mottel: Thank you for your explanation.

Hirshel: I fully expected to get heat from my Chabad readers for this posting. Just for your information, the word "shed" was not meant to denigrate Chabad in any way despite your thoughts to the contrary. I am sorry that you interpreted them as such.

As the second anonymous wrote, this posting is more about searching for the path of my ancestors than going on an anti-Chabad diatribe.

At May 8, 2006 at 8:46:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since the pattern on the Chabad tallis (or on any tallis, for that matter) is purely decorative, one might flip the question around and ask why do chabadniks feel that they must use a tallis with what we call a "chabad" pattern? The answer is of course that, in a manner similar to the Scottish tartan, the stripe pattern is associated with a particular group, and wearing this pattern can and is used to help strengthen ones identity as a member of that group. A Simple Jew does not really feel like a member of Chabad, so he sees no need to "fly" the Chabad, especially if the group he does see himself leaning towards has their own special style. So there is no need to get offended. As for the tzitzis and other halachik/mystical details of a chabad tallis, one can easily get a non-chabad tallis with

I agree that Shalom Bayis is VERY important in this issue, and in any halacha for that matter, and I think that Reb Lazer's advice was excellent. Advice of the kind he gave you would have saved me a lot of fights and much heartbreak!

I would suggest that perhaps your wife could buy you a new tallis with the kind of pattern you want for an anniversary, or perhaps for the birth of your next child. It would be wonderful to wear such a tallis for the first time at a son's bris or a daughter's naming. This would make the new tallis just as special for both of you as the old one.

At May 9, 2006 at 1:15:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many Russian chasidim are particular about making chuliyoys on tzitzis. (To make separate clusters of 3-3-3... according to Zoyhar and Ari za"l). This is still practiced in Breslov by chasidim who have a mesoyro coming from Reb Avrohom Shternhartz ztz"l, in Monistritch, Cheronobyl/Skver and Chabad. This was as well a practice of chasidey Koretz and Bershad (look about it in Imrey Pinchos hasholeym, Shaar haTzitzis).

However there are at least two ways how to do chuliyoys. One with shames going outside (like Chabad and Chernobyl do today), and other with shames going inside (like Breslovers do). How exactly did Koritzer and Bershader chasidim is not clear.

In Chabad also, several people (for example Morozov family) had a mesoyro to make chuliyoys like this. With shames going inside result is very neat, and shames is completly hidden.

Some other chasidishe minhogim about tzitzis:

1. To make two holes on tales koton and only one on tales godoyl (this is in accordance with Ariza"l in Eytz Chaim).
(extra small hole like Chabad makes is called in Yiddish "petelke". Reb Refoel miBershad ztz"l was also doing like this, but than stopped, suspecting that it is not strictly in accordance with Ariza"l).

2. According to Baal Shem Tov it is good to make knots on the end of chutim (but not on the same day as tzitzis were put on the tales).

3. Ukranian chasidim wear tales godoyl over their shoulders, putting two bottom ends through the gartl (and not rolling and pulling the tales to the shoulders like many litvaks today do). This is the original minhog of Breslov, Skolye, Chernobyl, Kapitchnitz, etc.

At May 9, 2006 at 1:31:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a yid,

do you have any images of what the "inside" chuliyos looks like, or how one would tie them? I have a hard time seeing what it would look like.

At May 9, 2006 at 2:00:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I actually made a diagram how to make such tzitzis but I didn't scan it yet. I made a digital photo of it, but it is not very clear. You can see it here:

Photo of real tztzis made liks this is here:

At May 9, 2006 at 5:03:00 AM EDT, Blogger Mottel said...

Reb Volf Greenglass of Montreal once said, "If the first Chasidim were makpid on Kebud av then there would be no chassidim -for all of their fathers were misnagdim."

At May 9, 2006 at 6:34:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Wow! A lot happened here over night while I was sleeping.

Fedora Black: It appears that you understand me perfectly. Your suggestion is indeed excellent, but I think I will keep using my Chabad tallis.

A Yid: You never stop amazing me with your knowledge of Chassidus. I know I have offered before, but if you ever come up with a topic for a guest posting, I will be sure to post it. Thank you for all your information and for the pictures.

Mottel: Thanks for the quote!

At May 9, 2006 at 11:51:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pardon me for joining in on a conversation on a topic I know nothing about, but my ears perked up when Rebbe Raphael of Bershad was mentioned, and I thought you might enjoy a story about his tallis (ASJ, note that he decided to change to a new tallis for sentimental reasons!):

There is a well-known story of the ssadik Rabbi Refael of Barshad zs"l who loved anything and everything that came from Eress Yisrael. Once, friends of his sent him woolen cloth woven from the first shearing of sheep in the Holy Land. He adored his new possession, so much so that he called the tailor and asked him to make from the material a tallit katan that he could wear at all times, so as to retain a symbol of his sacred land near him at all times. The tailor cut the material, sewed the hem and folded it, so that he could cut ... in the middle the opening for the neck.

Accidentally, however, he ... folded it over once too much; thus, instead of one hole in the center of the garment, there were two holes!

Full of dread and fear, the tailor returned the precious material, and, his voice shaking from pangs of guilt, told the ssadik what had happened.

Much to his surprise, the face of the ssadik lit up and he exclaimed, "Of course - this is how it was supposed to be! This is no mistake! There should be two holes in the garment. The first for the head, like any other tallit katan, and the second to see if Refael would get angry."


At May 9, 2006 at 12:29:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(I think this may have been discussed previously on this blog, but b’kitzur

One should always have a qualified authority that they discuss things like this with, but determining which talis to use is not necessarily a halachic question per se; halachacially all normal Taleisim are Kosher (except perhaps if someone uses techeiles that is not really from the Chilazon, but that’s another story). The difference comes down to various customs and certain “inyanim.” As to the “Chabad” stripes, for example, they have no deeper meaning other than when the Previous Rebbe was in Israel he saw this pattern, liked it, and bought it.

The concept of stripes on the Talis is also not universal, and al-pi-Kabbala the stripes are white (interestingly, the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s father wore white stripes for that reason, and since the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe wore black stripes, the Rebbe came up with the idea of rolling the tallis on his shoulder so that the stripes wouldn’t show, thus following both his father & father-in-law…)

The Baal HaTanya added the additional hole in the Talis gadol since the Tzitzis have to hand on the corner, and if they slip down it is a problem. Most Taleisim are tied in a way that the Tzitzis are pulled tight, folding the cloth a bit so that it they will stay in place. Since the Baal HaTanya considers any folded cloth to be as if it’s not there, he proposed this novel idea of adding that extra hole and one thread loops though it to hold it in place without folding the material.

There are actually many inyanim - halachic, kabalistic, aesthetic, etc. – too many to go into here, but rest assured that there are valid shitos to support pretty much all normal taleisim in the market.

Also: As A Yid pointed out, wearing the Talis also has different minhagim: The Minchas Elazar & the Tzemach Tzeddek discuss that the Talis should be worn based on “Shoresh Neshoma” (Source of one’s soul); if someone is rooted in Kayin then he should wear it on his shoulders, and if you are rooted in Hevel the Talis should be worn down (The Tzemach Tzeddek also writes that the Baal Shem Tov wore it on his shoulders). The criteria for determining who is Shoresh Kayin or Shoresh Hevel are also listed in various places.

(I also encourage A Yid to write a guest posting!!)

All the best to everyone!

At May 9, 2006 at 12:52:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Shoshana: Thanks for the story! I was hoping you read A Yid's comment.

Chabakuk Elisha: There is a lot of good information in your comment. I am glad that you too encouraged A Yid to write a guest posting ;)

At May 9, 2006 at 1:13:00 PM EDT, Blogger Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

are you a "public defender" by any chance?

the stripes in the Tallis are NOT just for decorative purposes only.

At May 9, 2006 at 1:30:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...


There are only two reasons that i have ever found for the stripes:
1. A zecher to t'cheilis
2. To show that we are wearing this beged specifically because of the mitzvah.

But the specific pattern is decorative only.

At May 9, 2006 at 1:32:00 PM EDT, Blogger Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

see a letter by the Rebbe in Igros vol.27

I believe a recent Heichel HaBeshy also discusses this issue.

At May 9, 2006 at 1:33:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what does it say there?

At May 9, 2006 at 1:34:00 PM EDT, Blogger Hirshel Tzig - הירשל ציג said...

look it up. If I could remember that I wouldn't be working my day job.

At May 9, 2006 at 5:49:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why Hirshel? Do you need a free lawyer to drag you out of a pit you made for yourself? ;-)

I am sure that people can come up with all sorts of arguments for various tallis patterns based on kabbalah and chassidus, both arguments that follow beautifully from prime sources, as well as those that are on the level of hearing it from a friend, who was told by the boss of an aunt in Australia, who heard it mentioned by a rabbi, whose brother's school teacher once fell asleep at a farbrengen where someone heard that the Lubavitcher Rebbe might have told someone to keep their tallis like that.

Al pi halacha, the stripe mean nothing. But as for emotions, the stripes mean everything, and hence Reb Brody's advice.

By the way, check out Shachter-Shalomi on why he chose the kind of pattern that now forms the basis of the "B'nai Or" tallis:

And no, I don't wear one of these...

At May 9, 2006 at 8:43:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ASJ and Chabakuk Elisha - thanks for the interest. I'll think about some subject.

Since you started speaking about Bershad, there is a whole collection of mayses about Reb Pinchos Koritzer zy"o and his talmid muvhok - Reb Refoel miBershad zy"o in mentioned above Imrey Pinchos Hasholeym, that was printed just few years ago. Some of them appear for the first time in print. If you are interested in them you should definetely get this seyfer. Bershader chasidim were known for their great zhirus in mitzvas tzitzis. They also were making tzitzis for sale and they were also considered high quality.

Reb Refoel zy"o was outstanding in midas ho-emes, to such extend, that he even was moyser nefesh because of it.

There floats around a severe misconception about Reb Refoel miBershad zy"o, as if he was ch"v a misnaged to Breslover chasidim. Source of it is one old printed edition of "Medrash Pinchos" where there is a story, that someone told to Reb Refoel something bad about certain Breslover, and he spited and said "Eyn ke-eyle cheylek Yakoyv".

It misled some to think that he opposed Breslov. However that print of Medrash Pinchos is very inaccurate and was critiized even by descendants of Reb Pinchos Koritzer, and could be intentionally altered. In ksav yad that mayse appeared with completely opposite resolution, that Reb Refoel said "Eyn ke-eyle cheylek Yakoyv" to those who speak loshn horo about that Breslover.

Rabbi Meir Shapiro z”l was from the family of Chortkover chasidim (a branch of Rizhin). He was also a descendant of Reb Pinchos Koritzer. When he was young his father caught him learning Likutey Moharan. His father was upset and showed him that story from Medrash Pinchos. However Reb Meir was reluctant to believe it. Later he found the ksav yad with correct version and was finally relieved. He was a big friend of Breslover chasidim throughout his life and allowed them to use his yeshiva Chachomey Lublin for Roysh Hashone kibutz.

At May 10, 2006 at 5:38:00 AM EDT, Blogger Mottel said...

chabakuk elishasaid . . .
"As to the “Chabad” stripes, for example, they have no deeper meaning other than when the Previous Rebbe was in Israel he saw this pattern, liked it, and bought it."
Nothing a Rebbe does is stam, if the FR chose it, it means something -if we understand it or not.

At May 10, 2006 at 6:37:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

A Yid: Thank you for sharing that information. I was not aware of that.

Shoshana, you can find a copy of Imrei Pinchas here

At May 10, 2006 at 10:58:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I have tried in the past on many occasions to find out from "big people" in Chabad if the stripes had any deeper significance. I was told by all of them that they don’t, and that (as I said) "The Previous Rebbe was in Israel he saw this pattern, liked it, and bought it."

If you have any more information on the subject, please share it!

Your statement that the PR choosing it means that there is some deeper significance, is neither here nor there (and BTW there is another Chabad Tails pattern as well). My point is that it's not like it came from a long mesora, or that one of the Rabbeim designed it - I wear it because of hiskashrus to the Rebbe, but that doesn’t mean that there is a mystical deeper meaning to the pattern - and until I hear otherwise, I assume that there is none.
All the best!

At May 10, 2006 at 1:23:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ASJ, it was very kind of you to post a link to Imrei Pinchas! Unfortunately (and as you might have suspected), my Hebrew is very rudimentary, and I doubt that this work has been translated into English. However, I've been finding a great deal of material both online and at the library of the Hebrew University here in Baltimore. I now have quite a collection of stories about Rebbe Raphael and wise sayings attributed to him. I've also been getting help from members of JewishGen, who have been translating the Rebbe's tombstone inscription for me. I want to learn as much as I can, as he is a real inspiration to me!

Thanks so much for your help and encouragement!

At May 10, 2006 at 1:56:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Shoshana: It sounds like you are on the right path. Nevertheless, it still might be nice to have a copy of this tzaddik's sefer in your home :)

Be sure to read more about the history of this sefer here

At May 10, 2006 at 5:46:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This edition of Imrey Pinchos is a new collection, where are collected all known sources of Kisvey Koretz/Bershad. This is an amazing work, and it contains pearls of chasidic thought many of which were never printed before. Publishers worked with numerous authentic manuscripts to make this editon.

It contains a detailed biographies as well. According to publishers current location of Reb Pinchos's keyver in Shepetovke is unknown, because old beys hakvoroys was destroyed and place in Shepetovke where the matzeyvo is now is not a real place of the keyver.

Reb Refoel miBershad zy"o is buried in Trotshe. There is an amazing story about his keyver. Beys hakvoroys there was also destroyed buy local goim, but miraclously Reb Refoel's matzeyvo was consealed by the branches of the big willow and it was found by chervas "Derech Tzadikim" which is helping to maintain kivrey Tzadikim now in Ukrain. It is the only matzeyvo that remains there now.

At May 10, 2006 at 9:46:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ASJ and AY, thank you, both, for advising me to get this publication. I didn't realize that it contains information about Rebbe Raphael as well as R'Pinhas. I will consider it very seriously, because I can see that this book is something I will treasure. I know it will be frustrating to have the information right there, in front of me, without being able to translate it. But perhaps I can get some help with that; I have found, from my recent experience with JewishGen (and here, too), that people who are perfect strangers to me are very generous in sharing their knowledge and expertise.

A Yid, that is a fascinating story about the Rebbe's grave being hidden and protected from destruction. Would you like to see some pictures of it? Here is a web site that shows the grave and tombstone (photographs taken by Michael Tobin in 1997 at Tarashcha); the plaque on the fence mentions the Derech Tzadakim.

See particularly the last 2 images in the second row and the first image in the third row. As you can see, the tree has grown taller!

Thank you very much for your comments and advice!

At May 11, 2006 at 12:52:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shoshana (Bershad): Are you originally from Ukraine, or your family is from there?

I'm sure you would love this edition of Imrey Pinchos, and you can find someone to help you with translation. They did a great work there. When I saw those maymorim and stories I related to them in a special way. Toyras Koretz and Bershad are very close to Breslov in many ways, and are obviously more than superficially connected. Reb Pinchos Koritzer zy”o and his talmidim had a big role in shaping of Ukranian Chasidus in general and his ksovim were treasured by many tzadkim, even though most of them were never printed until recently.

At May 11, 2006 at 2:02:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Yid,

You've convinced me to obtain a copy of this book, and I will certainly treasure it!

Yes, my grandfather's family is from Bershad. Also, two other grandparents were from the Ukraine, and the fourth was from Grodno.

My great-grandfather and his family traveled first to Turkey and then to Palestine, where they lived on a farm that produced olive oil. They came to the U.S. in 1906 and settled in Brooklyn, NY, and Connecticut. I calculate that my great-grandfather, born in 1861, would be in the 4th or 5th generation of Rebbe Raphael's descendants. The family has passed down the information that the Rebbe is our ancestor, but, of course, I have no documentation. In addition, he lived in the era before surnames were taken, so I cannot trace the family by the usual genealogical methods. I think most of the information about him is in the Chassidic literature, so I am trying to learn as much as I can. I will never really know exactly who all my ancestors were, but I feel a great connection to them. And, although I was not raised in this tradition, I am starting to feel a kinship with Chassidism, too!

Best wishes!

At May 11, 2006 at 6:34:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Shoshana: I am happy to hear that you decided to purchase a copy of the sefer. It is amazing that you are a descendant of this tzaddik. I sure wish I was a descendant of the Degel Machaneh Ephraim!!

A Yid: Thank you for all your information. Forget blogging, you should write a book with all your knowledge!! I have never heard this story about the kever of Rebbe Pinchas of Koretz in Shepetovka. Could you explain a little more what it says in Imrei Pinchas.

When I visited Shepetovka, the cemtery certainly was not in good shape, but it didn't appear to be totally destroyed.

Also, please send me an e-mail so if I ever run into questions on Chassidic history/minhagim, I will know how to get in touch with you. Thanks.

At May 11, 2006 at 2:46:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just one more thing. Except from maymorim and mayses, this edition of Imrey Pinchos has a big collection of minhogim and hanhogoys toyvoys (Chasidic practices) of Reb Pinchos Koritzer zy"o, Reb Refoel miBershad zy"o and their talmidim. This is very precious, because we often don't have enough information about hanhogoys of early tzadikim like immediate talmidey Baal Shem Tov.

At May 11, 2006 at 2:48:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

I will be sure to take a look at my copy, A Yid.

If only we could get this section translated into English!

At May 11, 2006 at 8:36:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

By the way, if it is true that the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe simply adopted the "Chabad" style tallis pattern after seeing it in Eretz Yisroel, does anyone know which group or geographic area the pattern originally belonged to?

It would be wonderfully ironic if the pattern was the one made in ASJ's family shtetel...

At May 12, 2006 at 6:12:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Fedora Black: Now THAT would be something!

At May 12, 2006 at 2:18:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Shoshana (Bershad) - Please send me an e-mail so I know how to get in touch with you if I ever run across some Bershad information.

At September 22, 2010 at 2:46:00 AM EDT, Blogger Samual said...

This comment has been removed by the author.


Post a Comment

<< Home