Wednesday, May 28, 2008

To Change Or Not To Change, That Is The Question

This sale has got me thinking about this again....


At May 28, 2008 at 12:28:00 PM EDT, Anonymous yehupitz said...

I don't know if you have one tallis or two. But perhaps you could resolve the dilemma of that post by continuing to use the one you already have during the weekdays and getting a standard or Sudilkov tallis for Shabbos/Yom Tov.

As an aside, I recommend getting haloscan for the comments section. It's far more convenient.

At May 28, 2008 at 12:32:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

The Sudilkover Rebbe said that the minhag of the Chassidim of Ukraine that is known to him and the one that he follows is that of Breslov / Chernobyl. The tallis is made of Turkish wool and it has an atara. The tzitzis are tied identically to those of Chabad.

At May 28, 2008 at 1:13:00 PM EDT, Blogger DixieYid said...


Can one get haloscan comments on a blogger based blog?


So you'll be sticking with Chabad tzitzis then?

-Dixie Yid

At May 28, 2008 at 1:21:00 PM EDT, OpenID bahaltener said...

Terkisher tales wasn't strictly saying a minhog in Ukraine, rather it was preferred by chasidim because of its superior kashrus at that time (no issues with shatnez). It is mentioned in Imrey Pinchos Shaar Seyder haYoym.

Atoro was used by those who could afford it. Most people couldn't. Presently many Breslovers don't use atoro for some reason (I'm not sure why).

Almost all Russian chasidim used tzitzis with chuliyoys (groups by 3). And Breslov too. But there are several methods how to do it.

Interestingly, Reb Avrohom Shternhartz ztz"l used chuliyoys like Chabad and Chernobyl does (though in Chernobyl there are variations how to do them too). I.e. with shames going outside. (I've heard it from Reb Nachman Galant from Tzfas). Reb Gedalya Kening was using another method (with shames going inside). Though, I still didn't figure out why he changed that method and was using a different one.

At May 28, 2008 at 2:10:00 PM EDT, Blogger Long Beach Chasid said...

There is a story that when the Alter Rebbe was first imprisoned all the chassidim donated their ataras to pay his bail amount. After that they never wore them again.

But hey, the Alter Rebbe used to wear a streimel

Chabad likes to change things up.

My Rav wears a Turkish Tallis and that is what my wife bought me.

At May 28, 2008 at 3:25:00 PM EDT, Anonymous yehupitz said...

What IS Turkish wool?

(Neither google nor wikipedia answers that question.)

The only thing I think I know about it is that it's much heavier. Is that true?

dixie, yes there are many blogger-based blogs that have haloscan.

At May 28, 2008 at 3:50:00 PM EDT, OpenID bahaltener said...

Terskisher tales uses less processed wool. That's all basically (and that's why there is less suspicion for shatnez there). Because of more raw wool, is heavier and changes color sooner.

At May 28, 2008 at 4:37:00 PM EDT, Blogger Long Beach Chasid said...

The tassels that decorate the sides are all crossed over and knotted. Its a design like the yemenite tallis but not as elaborate.

At May 29, 2008 at 9:00:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Additionally, I saw this in the Breslov Center's customs document:

"The Rebbe wore a silver ‘atarah on his talis (which is in a private Judaica collection). However, it seems that historically, Breslover Chassidim did not. This was probably due to poverty, rather than to any shittah to the contrary. Over the years, it became the custom in Breslover communities, especially in Eretz Yisrael, to wear only the white cloth strip that most talesim come with. (For those who wish to wear an ‘atarah, the minhag in the Ukraine was to wear a gefluchtener ‘atarah, i.e. one that is woven with silver threads to form various designs. This is still customary in the communities of Chernobyl, Skver, and Rizhin, which come from the same region.)"

At May 29, 2008 at 10:20:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Is having an atara on my tallis the antithesis of the simple Jew that I aspire to be?

Is my innate preference not to have an atara on my tallis analagous not wanting to hang my new plaque up on the wall?

Am now just muddling thoughts up in my mind while the correct answer should be...."Your Rebbe told you the answer. Now all you need to do is just simply follow his words." ?

At May 29, 2008 at 10:32:00 AM EDT, Blogger DixieYid said...


I understand your instinct about not wanting to wear the Atara. However, I think there's a big differnece between that at the Plaque (though I don't have a problem with you putting that up either, as I said). The Plaque honors *you*, which is not necessarily bad. But the Atara honors the mitzva of Atifas Talis and the tefillah in general. You should look at the Atara of the Talis a a "hidur Mitzva," and not a "Hidur ASJ."



-Dixie Yid

At May 29, 2008 at 10:46:00 AM EDT, Blogger Akiva said...

There are many great discussions on all sides of this. However, if you are a chossid, you follow the customs of your chassidus and community (understanding as a person finds his way, this may be a gradual process, and also involves family traditions as well). If you have a rebbe who you've directly spoken with, who has given you an answer, YOU RUN TO DO IT!

If you don't want to, don't ask a rebbe!

There are some trappings that we put on because, while we want to be pashut in our relationship with Hashem and each other, when we turn to the world we are sons and daughters of the King, all priests of a holy nation. So when you wear your silver atarat drapped tallis, just remember that you're only wearing it as a shaliach of the King, and responsible to act as such even more at that time.

Oh, and have your wife select and buy it.

Dixie - Yes Haloscan works with Blogger, though for some reason it won't work on my blog (some component incompatibility between the various stuff I've got there).

At May 29, 2008 at 10:51:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Dixie Yid & Akiva: THANK YOU for your advice. You cleared up my clouded thinking. Atara it is!

At May 29, 2008 at 11:07:00 AM EDT, Blogger yitz.. said...

i didn't see anyone mention it so i will chime in that the Holy Arizal didn't have an atara on his tzitzith and was makpid not to make one side the side of the head,(which is what the atara essentially marks) rather he would use whichever side he happened upon.

ASJ, as a simple Jew, i would say that everyone has an atara, fancy or not on their taleisim these days.. so davka not having an atara of any kind would be in my humble opinion only for a gadol or tzaddik.

If you are asking about whether it's an inyan of ga'avah, i will answer you one better, regarding tzitzith and tefillin the mitzwah of glorifying HaShem's name in having a mehudar object of kedushah (zeh keily w'anveyhu) is mentioned quite a lot.. i think once you are wearing a beautiful tallith, to then wear a less beautiful one out of humility would seem to be backwards.. perhaps one would be making (has v'shalom) HaShem look less 'grand'.

i struggled with this inyan when debating whether or not to write divrei torah on the web, on the one hand, what do i know i'm bound to make mistakes, and on top of that, how much of my motivation is based in ga'avah? the reason i'm still writing divrei torah is because i realised what miriam haNeviah said to Amram is a really deep lesson: Pharoah only passed judgement on the boys, but you have passed judgement on the girls as well (it's better to always add mitzwoth and never take away out of chashash that perhaps our mitzwoth are imperfect.)

You might be right to question whether you ever should have started to wear an atarah, but you did, so now, who are you to stop? remember the mitzwoth as well as the whole world are for HaShem's glory, not our own.

Perhaps the way you can fix this is to make sure to purchase the tallit of your minhag for your son (whether at his bar mitzwah, or his wedding, whatever your minhag is)

I'll give you an example of something similar, my father (and teacher) wears tallit with tchellet tied according to Rambam's shitah. Later a very big mekubal gave him a very special pair of Rabbeinu Tam tefillin which he now wears along with his Rashi tefillin. Rambam paskins as far as i know, that Rashi is the way to go, and certainly not to where them both at once (as some sefaradim (my father included) do) so it would seem that either my father should change his tzitzith, or the way he wears the tefillin. But the mekubal told him to keep doing what he has been doing.

We don't always know why we end up doing things the way we do, but HaShem has plans far greater than we can imagine.. for another quick example, when my mother became a ba'alat teshuvah, she ended up with a siddur that had a very different nusach from everyone else, but she didn't notice, she only couldn't understand why she couldn't keep pace with the minyan ever. Years later she met and married my father, 20 years after that she found her old siddur on a shelf, looked at it and realized it was a sefaradi siddur and that's why she could never follow with a normal minyan---but when she was going through her teshuvah process HaShem arranged for her to have a sefaradi siddur because she would eventually be davening nusach sefaradi when she married my father.

when HaShem arranges events for you to have something special... treasure it, i wouldn't even think of changing it. The Baal HaTanya taught that a Jew's physical possessions,while they might seem material, are actually spiritual blessings. (perhaps this is one of the secret meanings of the mitzwah of bal tashchit.)

At May 29, 2008 at 11:26:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Michoel said...

When one initial changes their chitzonius, there is a certain amount of dissonance and resistance. "Is this really who I am? I feel like am pretending to be something more than I am." However, with time, one can comfortably incorporate those feelings into part of their personality. In Europe, if everyone in your kehilla went with a certain levush, one didn't feel like a baal gaavah for doing the same. It is only here in the US, were we all know people that carry themselves with the utmost simplicity, and yet are very heligeh people, so we feel uncomfortable carrying ourselves "frummer" than them. Imagine yourself back in the alter heim, just doing what the tzibbur is doing.

At May 29, 2008 at 11:39:00 AM EDT, Anonymous shoshana (bershad) said...

By the time I read through the new comments on your post, as well as the old ones on the previous post, I saw that you had already reached a decision. I'm not qualified to advise you on this, but I think your rebbe has given you excellent advice. Anyway ...

I understand that you are a very modest person and don't want to be ostentatious, but as Dixie Yid explained, the "honor" is not to you personally, and it need not reflect your own personal style (particularly if it is a minhag of your ancestors). I think the purpose of an atara on a tallis is similar to the reasons for decoration on religious objects in general (from ornate covers on seforim to elaborate synagogue architecture): the outward beauty enhances the user's feelings of respect, devotion, and joy and the sense that this object is special, not mundane.

At May 29, 2008 at 12:06:00 PM EDT, Blogger Long Beach Chasid said...

Someone put it in my head that only Rabbi's and Talmid Chachamim wear Ataras on their Tallis if it is their custom. Even though i dont think its 100% true I feel that if i would wear one it would be me trying to look more frum and more religious then I really am. I admit I was quite scared the first shabbos I was married to walk into the Chabad shul in my bekeshe. Of course I was complimented and greeted just as warmly as always. Then I went to a more kiruv type Chabad and this man in front of people comments on how flashy my bekeshe is and that I look like Elvis Presley. (My bekeshe is covered in simple little squares randomly scattered about.) I was a little embarrassed that maybe I wasn't wearing this then for the reason to make Shabbos beautiful from my suit wearing of the weekday. My Rav wears an atara and when I put in some serious yeshiva learning I will come back to the question like it seems you have after a long while.

I used to be into punk music and dressing like an idiot in high school so it boggles me why I am so careful how I look now years later. Maybe I found a little humility hiding somewhere.

At May 29, 2008 at 1:12:00 PM EDT, Blogger Hirshel Tzig said...


we need to look at the root cause of the decision to adorn your tallis. Is it because of a sudden desire and yearning to be closer to G-d, or is it just you thinking that you'd look more "frum" with one? that needs to be the deciding factor; will it bring you closer to Hashem or is it hot air?

At May 29, 2008 at 1:15:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Hirshel: It is actually more about switching the tallis (pattern)itself rather than adding the atara.

At May 29, 2008 at 1:38:00 PM EDT, Blogger Alice said...

Discuss it again with your rabbi. That's what I think! I'm not suggesting that you fish around for the answer you want. I think something about the situation is bugging you, so talk to him. Personally, I like the idea of your wife picking it out if he does say you should change.

At May 29, 2008 at 2:55:00 PM EDT, OpenID bahaltener said...

ASJ: I'm not wearing an atoro, since it is a common minhog in Breslov today. However if one would suggest for me to wear it (without any preconditions), I'll feel uncomfortable too, because it is a costly silver decoration, very outwardly visible. I guess those who are used to it feel no problem with it.

Also, if you asked from Suldikover Rebbe should you wear it and he said yes - it is one thing. But if you just asked what the common minhog in Sudilkov was, it doesn't obligate you to run for it right away, unless you want it yourself.

At February 24, 2011 at 3:53:00 PM EST, Anonymous Ben Slobodkin said...

Some more info on the Turkish and Kmo talleisim can be found here:

At May 18, 2011 at 2:13:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Ben Slobodkin said...

Several commenters here have speculated on the purpose of the atara, but unless I missed something, nobody has mentioned the halachic rationale.

Originally the minhag developed to ensure that the tallis was worn the same way every day. The idea is not simply to make sure the tallis is worn right-side-up, but to keep the same two tzitzios in front and the same two tzitzios in back every time.

According to the Shlah Hakadosh (cited in the Mishnah Brurah), this is in keeping with the teaching that in the Mishkan, the northern boards had the zechus to occupy the north side, the eastern boards the east side, etc.

Ben Slobodkin
Ben's Tallit Shop


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