The term “tzitzit” can be a bit confusing, because sometimes the speaker may be referring to the tzitzit strings on a tallit, whereas is can also be used as a reference to a tallit katan garment worn to carry out the mitzvah of tzitzit all day. Therefore, although today tzitzit strings are always made of cotton, people may speak of “cotton tzitzit,” meaning a cotton garment with wool tzitzit strings.
Tzitzit: Is Cotton Cooler?
With summer now upon us, I’d like to put in my two cents on keeping cool while wearing tzitzis. My brother-in-law, who happens to be Sephardic, once said to me, “You’re lucky you can wear cotton tzitzit.” What he meant is that while the Shulchan Aruch says you should wear a wool tallit katan, because any other material is only required to have tzitzit according to Rabbinical law, Ashkenazim accepted the ruling of the Rema that cotton also requires tzitzit according to Torah law.
But I’m not convinced cotton is much cooler. If you start to really work up a sweat, wearing two or three layers of cotton will leave you feeling quite clammy. Cotton worn on the skin does a good job of absorbing sweat, but wool does a better job of wicking it away and thin wool breathes well.
Some cotton tzitzit wearers go with a t-shirt tzitzit garment, which allows you to eliminate one layer. Another option is to wear a regular, old-fashioned cotton tzitzit garment over a tank top, instead of a sleeved undershirt.
For those who prefer to stick with wool, we sell a lightweight wool tallit katan called Kalit.
All-White Tzitzit or Techelet?
What are those blue strings you keep seeing here and there? The Torah explicitly instructs us to put a “blue strand” (ptil techelet) on the corners of our garments. But how is the blue dye derived? The claims that Murex trunculus is the source of the techelet dye referred to in the Torah are quite strong, though support for the Ptil Tekhelet tzitzit, which are made of Murex trunculus, remains far from unanimous.
Tzitzit Through Thick and Thin
According to halacha, you should not wear tzitzis that are too thin or too thick. But apparently many years ago, when the Shulchan Aruch was written, tzitzis production was much less advanced and largely homemade, therefore often string thickness was more extreme. All tzitzit strings available today are suitable in terms of thickness. The choice is really a matter of aesthetics. Can’t decide whether to go with thick or thin? Very occasionally you will find a third option: medium.
Go to Tzitzit Strings and Techelet page>>>
Go to Tallit Katan/Tzitzit garment page>>>
Go to Tzitzit Selection Wizard>>>
Watch our one-minute tzitzis video: