Nov 262015

A customer asked me if I felt it would be inappropriate for an Ashkenazi to wear a Yemenite tallit.

Yemenite tallith with white stripes

White stripes, silver corners, Ashkenazi tzitzit

If you ask me, it would not be inappropriate assuming there is a range of tallit types in the congregation. In other words, if it’s a very frum Orthodox congregation, where everyone wears a tallit with black stripes only and a plain white atara, then suddenly someone comes in with silver, etc., it would make him stand out from the rest of the congregants. But if some people have blue stripes, or black and silver, etc., or white stripes, then there is no firmly established custom of how a tallit should look in your community.

The predominant custom among Sephardic Jews is to wear a white tallit with white stripes. I know a few Ashkenazi Jews who happen to like white-on-white, especially for Shabbos, and I don’t think they can be “condemned” for abbrogating the Ashkenazi custom.

Also, within Ashkenazi there are some who put a fancy silver atara on the tallit. Does it really make a difference if it’s more of a Yemenite-style silver embroidery?

If you chose to have the tzitzit tied Yemenite style, which is based on the Rambam’s approach, or tied Sephardic style, you might be on shaky ground.

But you shouldn’t ask me about the tzitzit! I’ve gone through all the relevant halacha several times, but I’m not a qualified rabbi.

Last week we got a fairly unusual hybrid request: a “white Yemenite tallit” with Ashkenazi tzitzit tying.

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