How to Fold a Jewish Prayer Shawl

by Stacie Borrello

Jews have a special garment, called a tallit, that they wrap around their bodies during their prayer ritual. The fringes along the tallit's outer edge, called tzitzit, are especially significant. The biblical book of Numbers commands the Israelites to wear garments with fringes as a symbolic reminder of the commandments in the Torah. While tallits are typically worn only during morning prayer, a notable exception is on Yom Kippur. During this important Jewish celebration, Jews wear their tallit during the night service of Kol Nidrei as an additional show of reverence for the holy day.

Step 1

Kiss the tallit strands, or tzitzit, before removing the shawl to show your love for the Jewish mitzvah, or commandments. Then, remove the tallit with your non-dominant hand to demonstrate your reluctance to part with it.

Step 2

Fold the tallit in the same way you unfolded it, along the existing creases. It is important to fold your tallit alone -- if someone else helps you, you could risk your good fortune, according to Jewish beliefs. Start by folding the garment in half lengthwise, making sure the corners match neatly. Then, fold it in half again along the middle crease. Finally, fold it in half once more so it is in the shape of a rectangle that drapes easily over your shoulder.

Step 3

Return the tallit to its bag for safe-keeping. If you unfold it to wear it again the same day, you must say an additional blessing before donning it.

Tips

  • Do not leave the tallit unfolded overnight. If you do forget to fold and put it away, make sure to shake it out before wearing it the next morning.

    Fold your tallit in the normal way on Shabbat. Although some scholars have suggested folding the shawl in a different way, not along its usual creases, on the Sabbath, it is fairly well accepted that Jews can fold their tallit the normal way without breaking Shabbat rules.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

About the Author

Stacie Borrello began her writing career in 1998 at her college newspaper, where her reporting earned her a Southwestern Journalism Congress award. She also taught in Asia and developed conferences for university executives before serving as senior editor of technical trade journals. Borrello specializes in SEO website content and marketing copy for businesses. She holds a Master of Arts from St. John's College.