Bar Mitzvah Sets

 Tallit, Tefillin  Comments Off on Bar Mitzvah Sets
Dec 122013

To tell you the truth, we avoid using the term bar mitzvah set because it can mean different things to different people. Often a bar mitzvah set consists of a tallit, matching bag and matching kippah. In other cases a bar mitzvah set revolves around a set of tefillin and often includes a siddur as well. Some bar mitzvah boys won’t want a matching kippah, and what they really need is a matching bag with custom name embroidery.

Our solution is to invite parents to browse our tallit and tefillin webstore, where they should be able to find whatever they need, and put together a bar mitzvah set of their own. Since we charge a low fixed price for shipping, essentially you only pay shipping for one item and the rest ship for free. For discounts, be sure to see our coupon listings.

Bar Mitzvah Set with Tefillin

If you would like a pair of tefillin for your bar mitzvah boy, Tefillin Peshutim Mehudarim is a popular choice. You can then choose a traditional tallit, a modern tallit or even a handwoven tallit set.

Tallit with Matching Bag and Matching Kippah

All of our Gabrieli and Maaseh Oreg handwoven tallit sets are available with matching tallit bag and kippah. Most of our tallits are also available with a matching bag and you can generally find a nice kippah that matches well among the Raw Silk Yair Emanuel kippot we offer.

If you have any questions about tefillin, tallit sizing, letter embroidery, shipping time etc., be sure to see the many resources listed at the top of our webstore, and of course you can contact us with questions, and we’ll reply right away.

Bar Mitzvah Planning – Tallit & Tefillin

 Tallit, Tefillin  Comments Off on Bar Mitzvah Planning – Tallit & Tefillin
Apr 072013

If you’re starting to look for a bar mitzvah tallit and tefillin, hopefully you still have plenty of time until the bar mitzvah. From my experience there are two types of parents: the type who start looking for a tallit and tefillin two or three months before the bar mitzvah, and others who start looking two or three weeks ahead of the big day.

Choosing a Bar Mitzvah Tallit

If you’re looking for a traditional tallit, be sure it is made of wool tallit. Wool looks nicer, lasts longer and is the fabric of choice from a halachic standpoint. When comparing prices, be aware that the same tallit made of a synthetic material (typically acrylic) will cost at least 30% less. Most tallits are either all wool or all acrylic, but there are a few out there made of a wool/acrylic blend.

The more expensive type of wool tallit is made of a denser weave and may include special features such as wool corners and stain-resistant fabric. Many parents want a traditional-looking tallit, but want it personalized for their son. They may want to have a special atara (neckband) sewn on or have the bar mitzvah boy’s name embroidered on the tallit. Personally, I discourage name embroidery on the tallit, but certainly it’s very appropriate to have a name embroidered, in Hebrew or English, on a tallit bag. Expect to pay at least $1 per letter.

Thinking of buying a handwoven tallit? Although handwoven wool tallits are common, you will also come across cotton and silk. Gabrieli is the only tallit maker I know of that works with all three materials. Their wool and cotton look very similar, although the cotton is a bit thinner and smoother in texture. A handwoven silk tallit is not the sheer silk of a silk blouse, because thick silk yarns are used. Compared to wool and cotton, a handmade silk tallit is somewhat thinner, more details and has higher sheen.

Keep in mind that a handmade wool tallit can cost anywhere from $200 to $600 and up.

Tallit Color Options

As noted above, the age-old wool tallit is invariably white with black stripes. Some Sephardic Jews have a custom of opting for a white tallit with white stripes, which has a very elegant and distinguished look. Ivory and off-white handwoven tallits look traditional, yet unique and distinctive at the same time. White with blue stripes seems to be a popular choice among bar mitzvah tallit buyers, possibly because it is not too eccentric, yet adds a bit of color and flare.

Buy traditional tallit for bar mitzvah>>

Bar Mitzvah Tefillin

Keep in mind that the halacha specifically states that one should spend more money on tefillin than on the tallit (Mishnah Berurah). Beware of bar mitzvah packages, which usually come with very poor quality tefillin that could easily be not kosher. In fact, often the tallit that comes with such package deals is also mediocre quality.

What is inside the boxes?
The box of the tefillin shel rosh (head tefillin) has four separated compartments, each with a specially prepared parchment or vellum (known as klaf) on which a different passage from the Torah is written? The tefillin shel yad (arm tefillin) has a single compartment containing a parchment with verses.

How are the Torah passages on the tefillin parchments written?
The texts must be written on properly prepared parchment or vellum called klaf. The style of the lettering varies among Jews of different backgrounds (e.g. Sephardic, Ashkenazi, Chabad), but the halachic requirements are almost identical.
The parchments placed inside a set of tefillin must be written by a trained sofer, or ritual scribe. A sofer should be stricty observant, have exemplary character and be knowledgeable about the laws of sofrut. After learning the halachic intricacies of sofrut the sofer-in-training generally does an apprenticeship (shimush) under an expert scribe. By the time a sofer writes his first set of tefillin he has typically spent 2-3 years learning his craft.

How much should a pair of kosher tefillin cost?
If you find tefillin for $200 beware!  For “bar mitzvah tefillin” or a first set of inexpensive tefillin, expect to pay at least $200 if you want to be certain they are really kosher. Inexpensive types of tefillin are referred to as tefillin peshutim, tefillin peshutim mehudarim and tefillin dakkot. Tefillin with very well-written parchments, well-crafted boxes, thick leather and quality straps generally cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000, and top quality tefillin with all the strictest halachic features and frills can run upwards of $1,200.

What are “tefillin peshutim?”
Tefillin peshutim employ a simple design. The head tefillin (“tefillin shel rosh“) is made using several pieces of parchment to form the inner walls and glued within a slit square to divide it into the four required compartments. The parchments are often written on klaf mashuach, which is much less durable.

What are “tefillin peshutim mehudarim?”
Tefillin peshutim mehudarim can be roughly translated as “superior simple design.” The boxes are made from a single piece of leather as required. When complete, tefillin peshutim mehudarim look almost identical to the more expensive cowhide type, but are less durable.

What are “tefillin dakkot?”
Dak” means thin in Hebrew. Tefillin dakkot are made by stretching a thin layer of parchment over a structural base similar to the peshutim. This outer parchment forms the entire box of the tefillin, which is halachically preferable. Because of its thin design the tefillin can become halachically invalid relatively easily. Today tefillin dakkot can be hard to find. But keep in mind that until 100 years ago all tefillin were tefillin dakkot.

What are “tefillin gassot?”
“Gas” means “coarse” or “thick.” Tefillin gassot are made entirely out of a single piece of thick leather, from the cheeks and the neck of the cow, where the hide is thickest. Working such thick leather into a finely finished product requires the repeated use of several tons of pressure in industrial presses as part of a complicated, but delicate production process. The resulting battim (boxes) are so durable and thick they typically last a lifetime.

What are bar mitzvah tefillin?
Some tefillin dealers refer to their least expensive type of tefillin as “bar mitzvah tefillin.” Typically they are tefillin peshutim (see above). About a month before the bar mitzvah (customs vary) the father or a rabbi or mentor teaches the young man how to lay tefillin correctly and with reverence.

What sizes do tefillin come in?
Standard tefillin boxes measure 31-36 mm. Very large tefillin boxes, typically worn by Lubavitcher chassidim, are 40 mm or more. The smallest size, often worn by Sephardim who wear both Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam tefillin at the same time, are typically 22 mm and are actually more expensive than the standard size.

How are tefillin straps made?
The straps must also be made of leather from the skin of a kosher animal and be painted black on the upper side. The tefillin straps pass through a passageway at the back of the lower base (the ma’avarta) and are tied into special knots that form the letters dalet and yud.

Buy Tefillin for Bar Mitzvah>>


Bar Mitzvah Tallit Sizes

 Tallit  Comments Off on Bar Mitzvah Tallit Sizes
Mar 152012
Bar Mitzvah Tallit

To enter tallit store, click on image

What is the right bar mitzvah tallit size? That depends not only on the bar mitzvah boy, but on the type of congregation he belongs to as well.

Bar Mitzvah Tallit – Narrow Sizes

In most Reform congregations, people wear the type of tallit that sits on the shoulders and hangs in front, but does not cover the back. This comes in Size 18, Size 24 and Size 36. Those numbers refer to the width. A Size 18 is narrow, just 18 inches wide, a Size 24 is medium and a Size 36 is wide. If he is still short, say under 5 feet tall, he’ll need a custom size. We get this type of request fairly frequently, and have several options available.

Full-Size Bar Mitzvah Tallit

In some Conservative and almost all Orthodox congregations, people wear a full-size bar mitzvah tallit, worn in the traditional fashion – over the shoulders, with the corners pulled down in front and two-thirds of the tallit covering the back and hanging down to the waist (or sometimes even down to the legs).

If you wear the tallit this way, you’ll want a Size 45, Size 50, Size 55 or Size 60, depending on the bar mitzvah tallit wearer’s height.

Of course the best advice is to have the young man try on different bar mitzvah tallit sizes and decide which works best for him. If you’re unsure which size a given tallit is, measure it from top to bottom (from the edge with the neckband to the edge opposite it that hangs down in back). If it’s around 24 inches, it’s a Size 24, if it’s around 36 inches it’s a Size 36, 45 inches is a Size 45, etc.

Buy Bar Mitzvah Tallit>>>

Tallit Size Wizard>>>

Tallit Size Video
The following 30-second video shows a 5’1″ bar mitzvah boy sporting the same tallit in four different sizes.

Your son’s first tallit

 Tallit  Comments Off on Your son’s first tallit
Jun 062011

Upon giving a bar mitzvah tallit to his son, Rabbi Menachem Creditor penned an insightful “meditation.”

“Maybe once you wear this tallit, perhaps on a day when no one else is watching, you and I will be able to talk about how it felt,” he writes. He shares with his son “an understanding gained over time that a tallit is not only an object of beauty.  Jewish hands have sometimes trembled holding our holy objects.”

Bar Mitzvah TallitHe notes the custom of wearing the tallit over one’s heads during prayer, adding, ” A tallit helps you see with your eyes closed.”

“I give you this tallit,” Rabbi Creditor concludes, “with a heart full of hope and full of anticipation for the person you are becoming.”

The essence of the tallit is the tzitzit. In his book of responsa, Az Nidberu, Rabbi Binyamin Zilber zt”l writes that all of the mitzvahs ennoble the person who fulfills them, but some, namely tzitzit, are among the primary means of accepting the yoke of Heaven.

He cites the Rambam, who notes that the mitzvah of tzitzit causes one to carry out all of the other mitzvahs in a complete way.

If so, giving a son a bar mitzvah tallit with kosher tzitzit is an ideal way to set him off on the right foot.


For handmade Bar Mitzvah Tallit Sets made in Israel
by Gabrieli, Galilee Silks, Kedma and Mishkan HaTchelet, click here>>