We often receive inquiries from customers looking for a traditional wool tallit, but they want to get it just right. This inquiry regarding a traditional tallis piqued me interest:
I am 91 years old and have shrunk a great deal. I am 5’5″ what size tallit shall I buy. A fancier wool. Something like a Munkacser design (from where I came). I would like an AA quality (or better) with proper twisted Tzitzit and a silver like atarah (geflochtene about six inches wide and sewn to be baal-batish). Anything else you could advise me? This is my last tallit. Thanks, Tuli
That last sentence really shook me up. On one hand, I certainly want my customers to receive a tallit that last for many years. On the other hand, I find myself hoping that even if Tuli (Naftali) is 91 years old, that this is not to be his last tallit, that one of his grandchildren (or great-grandchildren) will come up to him on Shabbos morning and tug at his tallis with hands covered with kugel schmutz and leave a big stain…
In any case, I sent Tuli a lengthy explanation of how to go about choosing the right wool tallis. In recent years there has been a rapid move to textured weaves. Instead of the smooth weave you are familiar with for decades, today many talleisim are slightly textured and marketed as “non-slip.” The fabric does, indeed, reduce slippage. And I find it has a nice, supple feel. This type is the Tallit Hamefoar on our site.
Hamefoar Prestige is the same fabric, but the black band is thicker and bolder (like on a Turkish tallis), and it has a lining and side bands. It also has fancy double-knotted fringes. It costs a bit more than the regular Hamefoar, but it’s worth it if you like the fancy fringes and like the really sturdy feel of a lining and side bands.
Both of the above are made in sizes 60, 70 and 80, but not in size 55.
Since at 5’5″ Tuli might want a size 55 or want to stick with the old-fashioned smooth weave, I recommended the Chatanim. It’s looks just like the basic traditional “good ol’ fashion” wool tallis, with a tight, high-quality weave, wool corner patches and stain-resistant and anti-yellowing treatment.
Actually there’s also a combination of Hamefoar Prestige and the Chatanim: Kmo Turkish. It has a lining and side bands and the thicker, solid black band found on Hamefoar Prestige, but regular fringes and a smooth fabric. Available in sizes 60, 70 and 80.
As for the tzitzit tying, I assured Tuli that we do the tzitzit tying in-house and have a really top-notch tzitzit tie-er. He’s a yungerman who studies Gemara in a kollel most hours of the day.