For those in search of just the right tallit, the striping is definitely a major factor. This week we received the following inquiry from a prospective customer:
Could you please address the customs concerning the stripes on the tallit.
More pointedly the silver or gold stripes. Thanks, Tom S.
I explained to Tom that originally the tallit had blue stripes as a remembrance of the lost techelet (blue) tzitzit. These later morphed into black stripes.“The current custom of black stripes,” writes my friend Rabbi Shraga Simmons
, “is in keeping with the synagogue decorum, which has value in and of itself.”
Still, even in Orthodox congregations, not everyone wears a white tallit with black stripes. In a modern Orthodox congregation you’ll find a bit of color, and in non-Orthodox congregations, the tallits can get quite colorful.
I would say black-silver and black-gold is somewhere in the middle, and for the most part tallit striping choice is really a matter of personal preference.
Black-striped, white-striped, white-silver-striped and blue-striped tallits are considered quite traditional, and have a white atara with a subtle leaf and diamond design. Black-silver, black-gold, blue-silver and blue-gold are perfectly acceptable in most Orthodox congregations and have the Tzitzit Blessing embroidered on the atara (neckband).