[Avodah] talit katan

Micha Berger micha at aishdas.org
Mon Aug 9 12:13:36 PDT 2021

On Thu, Jul 29, 2021 at 08:40:18PM -0400, Zev Sero via Avodah wrote:
> It seems obvious that it is not from Sinai. The gemara seems to take it for
> granted that people at the time of Matan Torah dressed much the same way as
> people did in the gemara's times, and as the Greeks and Romans did, by
> wrapping themselves in square cloaks pinned at the shoulder. Thus they wore
> proper taleisim all day, and had no need for a talles koton.

Not sure that's what they pictured for Moshe's tallis. If it were closer
to a Teimani shamla, then they are indeed describing what Middle Easterners
have been wearing for millennia.

See how Hittites dressed in the days of Ramasses II in this fresco
of prisoners of war taken from the Battle of Qadesh on the Abu Simbel
Those look like four cornered garments draped over one shoulder and
the body.

That said, the word "tallis" is borrowed from the Greek "stollus"
which is why it was variously pluralized as either "talliyos" (like a
word with a yud-saf suffix) or "tallisos" (acknowledging that it is a
Greek case suffix).

If you're wondering why there are pairs of sets of stripes on each side
of most tallisos, that's because there would be two set stripes on each
side of men's garments in Greek fashion. Whereas women would wear one
potentially more elaborate set. That is how well the Greek fashion is
preserved in our tallisos.

So there are really two parts to RJR's question:

1- When did we start wearing garments for the sake of having something
to put tzitzis on? (Talleisim, if by any other name.) The mitzvah itself
is conditional, and if you had no reason to wear 4 kanfos, so be it.

2- When did tallis qatan begin in particular.

To answer the first, as Zev says, the point of wearing a tallis -- gadol
or qatan -- today is that we didn't want to stop wearing one daily after
centuries of that being the norm simply because of style. Even in the
early stages of the Byzantine Empira, the toga was only for formal or
official dress. I don't know about Sassanid fashion, wikipedia having
less to say on the topic, but it would seem that by the end of the
amoraim, common folk didn't have a natural reason to put on tzitzis

Although there may have been a lapse and a restoration, so there could
have been generations after the shift to tunics before wearing a tallis
daily became "a thing". (Yes, "shift to tunics" was an intentional pun.)

As for tallisos qatan.... (I assume that's the right plural, like "batei

The Mordechai says you aren't yotzei with a tallis qatan because it isn't
an outergarment. (Which is one of the two issues that famously led some
Briskers not to wear one outside a reshus hayachid on Shabbos, since the
tzitziyos wouldn't be mevatlim to the begged and you'd be carrying. The
other is Baal haMaor saying that tekheiles is me'aqeiv es halavan.)

If tallis qatan is a minhag that doesn't fulfill the mitzvah, it is
apparently a commemoration rather than anything that could possibly
be miSinai.

Tallisos qatan weren't worn in Teiman.

Chodesh Tov!
Tir'u baTov!

Micha Berger                 For those with faith there are no questions.
http://www.aishdas.org/asp   For those who lack faith there are no answers.
Author: Widen Your Tent                        - Rav Yaakov of Radzimin
- https://amzn.to/2JRxnDF

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