For hundreds of years, or perhaps even thousands, Jews who wanted to fulfill the mitzvah of tzitzit all day wore an untailored tallit katan, which is essentially just a rectangular piece of fabric with a hole in the center for the head and a hole on each corner for the tzitzit strings. Made of either wool or cotton, a tallit katan (or “tallis koton”) is often referred to simply as tzitzit, which can generate a bit of confusion.
Wearing a tallit katan is an honor and a privilege, but some Jews found in somewhat cumbersome to wear three layers – undershirt, tallit katan and shirt – every day, autumn, winter, spring and summer. Then about 20 years ago the NeaTzit t-shirt tzitzit was invented. The NeaTzit was a cotton garment that was partially closed along the sides (if it’s closed entirely there is no mitzvah to wear tzitzit on the garment) and designed to be worn in place of an undershirt. Sometimes called a t-shirt tzitzit or an undershirt tzitzit, the NeaTzit design caught on fast in Israel and around the world.
T-Shirt Tzitzit Innovation
NeaTzit has gone out of business, but their t-shirt tzitzit innovation is alive and well, whether it’s sold as TrimTzit or PerfTzit or Cotton Comfort. T-shirt tzitzit and undershirt tzitzit designs vary slightly: while the original NeaTzit was made with snaps along the sides, today the Mishkan Hatchelet version is made with a patented side connector band and a v-neck, while the Talitnia version (which is actually made by Malchut Yerushalayim) uses stitching and has a crew neck.
Another advantage of the NeaTzit t-shirt tzitzit is that it tends to stay in place better than the age-old tallit katan design. This is a big advantage for athletes and for parents of little tykes who have slim chances of keeping three layers neatly tucked in all day.
The undershirt tzitzit proved so popular that in recent years several variations have been introduced, including the Sport Tzitzit or Tamir Goodman’s “Sport Strings” and a shirt tzitzit designed to be worn alone, without a shirt on top, known as the TzitzShirt. The TzitzShirt is made of a comfortable cotton-polyester blend and the more expensive Sport Tzitzit is made of a special high-performance polyester-lycra blend designed to wick away moisture and provide a contour fit.
Our top-selling NeaTzit type undershirt tzitzit is the Cotton Comfort, which is designed to make wearing tzitzit as comfortable as can be. In summer people opt to wear it in place of an undershirt to eliminate one layer of clothing, and we even have customers who wear them all year round because of the contour fit.
We recently introduced a Wool Comfort tzitzit undershirt as well, which offers the same contour fit and patented design, using a lightweight, soft, stretch wool fabric.