Mar 262015

We offer a wide range of tzitzit and tzitzit tying options on just about every talit and talit katan we sell, but the extensive number of options can be overwhelming for some of our customers. This week I had a number of email exchanges with a customer who bought a tallit from us and now wanted to buy his first talit katan. I could tell from his questions that he was not very clear on how to order tzitzit, so I wrote a complete explanation, laying out all of the relevant terms.

Hello Ben!
Do you sell any extra extra large tsitsit katan Beit Yosef?
What size would it be? And how much? Thank you, David

I’m pretty sure it was important to David to have Sephardic tzitzit, but he didn’t know how to relate that. Since some of these concepts may be a bit unclear to other visitors to our blog and website, I’m copying all of the details here:

I think you may be confusing “Beit Yosef” with Sephardic tzitzit tying. Let me explain all of the terminology to avoid misunderstandings in our communications.

Rabbi Yosef Caro wrote two tremendous halachic works: Beit Yosef and Shulchan Aruch.

The tallit you bought is named after his early work, Beit Yosef. But that’s the tallit itself, not the tzitzit.

Almost all Sephardim want their talit gadol (prayer shawl worn in synagogue) and talit katan (tzitzit garment worn all day under your shirt) to have Sephardic tzitzit tied on.

There is no difference between the tzitzit strings used to tie tzitzit. The difference is the way they are tied. There are four main tzitzit tying customs:

  • Ashkenazi
  • Sephardic
  • Yemenite/Rambam
  • Chabad/Arizal

The term Sephardic tzitzit means they are tied in such a way that a ridge spirals around on top of the windings. There are four sections of windings.

On a talit gadol almost all Sephardim have the custom to do the have the following number of windings: 7-8-11-13, just like Ashkenazim and Chabad.

On a talit katan, most Sephardim have the custom to tie the tzitzit with the following number of windings: 10-5-6-5. The gematria for 10-5-6-5 is Hashem’s name, therefore many people refer to this tying pattern as yud-kay-vov-kay.

Not all Sephardim are clear on all of these details. Many will just say, “I want Sephardic tzitzit.”

There is also one more Sephardic tzitzit tying custom known as Ben Ish Chai. This is fairly rare. We almost never get orders for Ben Ish Chai.

We can tie tzitzit according to any tying custom, no matter which product you choose.

On almost every product page you will see three options to select: size, tzitzit and tzitzit tying.

If you’re looking for a talit katan, in the product description you will see a size chart. Each product has a different sizing system (e.g. the sizing for a cotton talit katan and a wool talit katan are not the same; for example, size 9 cotton = size 6 wool).

Under the tzitzit option you select thin, medium, thick, etc.

Then under the tzitzit tying option you would select Sephardic 10-5-6-5 or Sephardic 7-8-11-13.

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