May 092012
 

Those who start tying Rambam tzitzit – both if you are tying techelet tzitzit or all white – may be undecided whether to tie 7 chulyoth or 13. The Gemara states very clearly that seven is the minimum and 13 is the maximum. Some poskim hold that 7 is the minimum and 13 is the ideal. According to Rav Avraham ben HaRambam, 7 is the ideal (see (Hamaspik L’Ovdei Hashem, ch. 33).

Rambam Tzitzit

Rambam tzitzit with seven chulyoth

I have tried to determine which number is predominant among Yemenite Jews who have a mesora for Rambam tzitzit (see here and here). From what I’ve gathered, it seems both are practiced, and there seems to be a division based on the region in Yemen.

Rambam tzitzit with 7 chulyoth

If you wear Ptil Tekhelet and you tie Rambam tzitzit with seven chulyoth, you will be left with a lot of tekhelet string to cut off. That’s why Ptil Tekhelet makes a set called “Rambam 7,” which is shorter. (I do not sell this on my techelet page, but I do have some in stock. Contact me for information.)

If you tie Rambam tzitzit, don’t forget that the tied section of the tzitzit must be at least 4 etzba’ot (8-9.6 cm, depending on which opinion you follow). If you tie the chulyoth too close together, they will come out to less than 4 etzba’ot. Of course with thin tzitzit, it’s harder to make the tied section long enough.

On the other hand, if you tie Rambam tzitzit with 13 chulyoth you have to be sure you space them close enough to one another so that you wind up with the hanging section (referred to in halacha as the anaf) is at least two-thirds the length of the section with the chulyoth.

Enter Tallit & Tzitzit store>>>

Feb 062011
 

In our day, the use of the tallit is largely confined to times of prayer.

Jewish sources indicate that the tallit was originally made of wool and that the person wearing it might treat it as an ordinary garment for various purposes – bundling up his wares in it or using it to cover himself or the bed he was lying on. Based on a responsum written by the Rambam, it appears that the custom during his time was to wear a tallit throughout the day.

Meanwhile Rabbi Petachia of Regensburg, who visited the East in the 12th century, reveals that the Jews of Baghdad “go about in shawls and wrapped up in a tallit of wool, with tzitzits.” According to Dr. Aaron Gimani of Bar-Ilan University, the restriction of the tallit to the morning prayers and the development of the tallit katan evolved as Jews began to adopt more mainstream social mores.

Yemenite Tallit: The Shamlei

Black Tallit - Shamlei

R' Said Kachazam wrapped in a shamlei tallith in Yemen. Click on image to enlarge

To this day the Yemenite tallit reflects certain distinctions that set it apart from the tallitot worn in other parts of the world. Rabbi Jacob Sapir, an emissary for religious organizations in Israel who visited Yemen in 1859, wrote that “God-fearing men, teachers of the people, will wear another garment, with four corners and bearing tzitzits, below their upper garment and over their backs, from above – the shamlei (so it is also called in Arabic), black or with black and white stripes, made of thick wool, square, with four corners, with which they cover their head and body all the way down, and on the four corners they hang tzitzits, according to the law, and they cover themselves with the shamlei throughout the day… at night too they cover themselves with it, or use it to cover the mattress on which they lie. And it will be used for every task; people carry things in it when they go buying and selling in the market, or they use it to carry wood.”

Yemenite Tzitzit Tying Custom

Many Yemenite Jews to this day tie the tzitzit with seven chulyot (“joints”) not separated by any knots. After the cords have been inserted into the hole at the corner of the tallit, a double knot is made. The longest cord is wound three times around the other cords to form the first joint. A small space is left and the cord is wound around another three times. The process continues until the tzitzit has seven joints with no intermediate knots. (Some have a custom of making 13 joints.)

Rabbi Joseph Kafich comments that this remains the Yemenite tzitzit tying custom to the present. Writing on Yemenite Jewish customs, Rabbi Isaac Ratzaby remarks, “At any rate, it would seem that a clear preference should be given to our custom, which appears explicitly in the Talmud, whereas other practices were introduced without any comparable source.” Yet in Israel the ancient Yemenite tzitzit tying tradition has been largely subsumed.

The Yemenite Tallit Katan

As for the tallit katan, it was worn only by some Yemenite sages, but once the Yemenite Jewish community had immigrated to Israel, their custom changed to conform to that of their brethren, who wore tzitzit all day, every day.

Rabbi Shalom Isaac Halevi, who came to Israel from Yemen in 1923, acknowleded that only a small minority wore a tallit katan in Yemen, “but this does not mean that Yemenite Jews thought it sufficient to wear a tallit during prayer only. The accepted custom is that every Yemenite Jewish male in Yemen would not step out the door of his house unless he had a tallit on his shoulders, and this was the tallit that he wrapped around [himself] in the synagogue during prayer.” He goes on to remark that Yemenite Jews living in Israel should follow the custom of wearing a tallit katan throughout the day.

Photos of traditional Yemenite tallit>>

Modern-day Yemenite tallit>>

In our day, the use of the tallit(prayer-shawl) is largely confined

to times of prayer.

Jewish sources indicate that the

tallit was originally made of wool

and that the person wearing it

might treat it as an ordinary

garment for various purposes–

bundling up his wares in it or using

it to cover himself or the bed he

was lying on.

Based on a responsum written by the Rambam(Maimonides–1135-1204) it appears that the custom during his time was to wear a tallit throughout the day.

Meanwhile Rabbi Petachia

of Regensburg, who visited the East

in the 12th century, reveals

that the Jews of Baghdad “go about

in shawls and wrapped up in a

tallit of wool, with tzitzits.”

The restriction of the tallit to

the morning prayers and the development

of the tallit katan evolved as Jews began to adopt more mainstream social mores.

To this day the Yemenite tallit reflects certain distinctions that set it apart from the tallit prayer shawls worn in other parts of the world.

Rabbi Jacob Sapir, an emissary for

religious organizations in Israel

who visited Yemen in 1859, wrote that “God-fearing men,

teachers of the people, will wear

another garment, with four corners

and bearing tzitzits, below their

upper garment and over their backs,

from above–the shamlei (so it is

also called in Arabic), black or

with black and white stripes, made

of thick wool, square, with four

corners, with which they cover

their head and body all the way

down, and on the four corners they

hang tzitzits, according to the

law, and they cover themselves with

the shamlei throughout the day …

at night too they cover themselves

with it, or use it to cover the

mattress on which they lie. And it

will be used for every task; people

carry things in it when they go

buying and selling in the market,

or they use it to carry wood.”

Many Yemenite Jews to this day tie the tzitzit with

seven “joints” not separated by any

knots. After the cords have been

inserted into the hole at the

corner of the tallit, a double knot

is made. The longest cord is wound

three times around the other cords to form the first joint. A

small space is left and the cord is

wound around another three times. The process continues

until the tzitzit has seven

joints with no intermediate

knots.

Rabbi Joseph Kafich comments that this remains the custom to the present. Writing on Yemenite Jewish

customs, Rabbi Isaac Ratzaby

remarks, “At any rate, it would

seem that a clear preference should

be given to our custom, which

appears explicitly in the Talmud,

whereas other practices were

introduced without any comparable

source.”

Yet in Israel the ancient Yemenite tzitzit tying tradition has been largely subsumed.

As for the tallit katan, it was

worn only by some Yemenite sages,

but once the Yemenite community had

immigrated to Israel their custom

changed to conform to that of

their brethren. Rabbi Shalom Isaac

Halevi, who came to Israel from

Yemen in 1923, acknowleded that only a small minority wore a tallit katan in Yemen, “but this does not mean that Yemenite Jews thought it sufficient to wear a tallit during prayer only. The accepted custom is that

every Yemenite Jewish male in Yemen

would not step out the door of his

house unless he had a tallit on his

shoulders, and this was the tallit

that he wrapped around [himself] in the

synagogue during prayer.” He goes

on to remark that Yemenite Jews

living in Israel should follow the custom of wearing a tallit

katan throughout the day.In our day, the use of the tallit (prayer-shawl) is largely confined to times of prayer. Jewish sources indicate that the tallit was originally made of wool and that the person wearing it might treat it as an ordinary garment for various purposes– bundling up his wares in it or using it to cover himself or the bed he was lying on. Based on a responsum written by the Rambam(Maimonides–1135-1204) it appears that the custom during his time was to wear a tallit throughout the day. Meanwhile Rabbi Petachia of Regensburg, who visited the East in the 12th century, reveals that the Jews of Baghdad “go about in shawls and wrapped up in a tallit of wool, with tzitzits.” The restriction of the tallit to the morning prayers and the development of the tallit katan evolved as Jews began to adopt more mainstream social mores. To this day the Yemenite tallit reflects certain distinctions that set it apart from the tallit prayer shawls worn in other parts of the world. Rabbi Jacob Sapir, an emissary for religious organizations in Israel who visited Yemen in 1859, wrote that “God-fearing men, teachers of the people, will wear another garment, with four corners and bearing tzitzits, below their upper garment and over their backs, from above–the shamlei (so it is also called in Arabic), black or with black and white stripes, made of thick wool, square, with four corners, with which they cover their head and body all the way down, and on the four corners they hang tzitzits, according to the law, and they cover themselves with the shamlei throughout the day … at night too they cover themselves with it, or use it to cover the mattress on which they lie. And it will be used for every task; people carry things in it when they go buying and selling in the market, or they use it to carry wood.” Many Yemenite Jews to this day tie the tzitzit with seven “joints” not separated by any knots. After the cords have been inserted into the hole at the corner of the tallit, a double knot is made. The longest cord is wound three times around the other cords to form the first joint. A small space is left and the cord is wound around another three times. The process continues until the tzitzit has seven joints with no intermediate knots. Rabbi Joseph Kafich comments that this remains the custom to the present. Writing on Yemenite Jewish customs, Rabbi Isaac Ratzaby remarks, “At any rate, it would seem that a clear preference should be given to our custom, which appears explicitly in the Talmud, whereas other practices were introduced without any comparable source.” Yet in Israel the ancient Yemenite tzitzit tying tradition has been largely subsumed. As for the tallit katan, it was worn only by some Yemenite sages, but once the Yemenite community had immigrated to Israel their custom changed to conform to that of their brethren. Rabbi Shalom Isaac Halevi, who came to Israel from Yemen in 1923, acknowleded that only a small minority wore a tallit katan in Yemen, “but this does not mean that Yemenite Jews thought it sufficient to wear a tallit during prayer only. The accepted custom is that every Yemenite Jewish male in Yemen would not step out the door of his house unless he had a tallit on his shoulders, and this was the tallit that he wrapped around [himself] in the synagogue during prayer.” He goes on to remark that Yemenite Jews living in Israel should follow the custom of wearing a tallit katan throughout the day.