Aug 242014

Do you ever get distracted looking around shul on Shabbos? On Shabbos we’re supposed to leave our weekday endeavors behind, avoid talking about money matters, etc., but as a tallit seller, I’m at a distinct disadvantage: How am I supposed to forget about talleisim while surrounded by dozens, sometime hundreds, of Shabbos talleisim hanging and swaying?

I spent this Shabbos in Rechasim, near Haifa, where I spotted a tallit I just couldn’t ignore. The congregation was very conservative chareidi. At least 80% wore standard black-striped tallitot with the standard leaf and diamond design atara. A few nonslip tallits could be seen (not Tashbetz, but the type that looks smooth enough that you can’t discern it from an old-fashioned tallit at a distance of two rows). My own tallit was a Kalil lightweight, which I chose to save luggage space. After about a year of daily use, it still looks new enough for Shabbos use.

Then there was the guy next to the bimah.

He wore a Yemenite tallit with netted fringes. It definitely stood out, but I sell this tallit, so that’s not really what drew my attention. It was the tallit corners that kept drawing my gaze. He had removed the square fabric that serves to reinforce the tallit corners and added decorated patches on both sides of each corner. This is fairly standard on a Yemenite tallit. The thing is, those patches were solid, with no holes. You could only see the tzitzit emerging from the stitches at the edge.

The Torah explicitly tells us that tzitzit must be tied onto the corner area (kanaf) of the garment/tallit. But I’m not sure this tallit would be considered to have tzitzit on the entire kanaf.

Do we say that the tzitzit are indeed attached to the tallit itself and those patches are mere decorations added on, and are not considered an integral part of the kanaf?

Or do we say this tallit has a three-layer kanaf, with tzitzit tied onto one of those three layers?

I tried to catch the local rabbi to ask his opinion, but didn’t find a chance to talk to him, and then later thought it might be for the best not to cast dispersions on the tallit of one of his congregants. For now the question remains unanswered.