Like many Mitzvot, the act of putting on and wearing the Tallit is preceded by the recitation of a blessing. However, before making the blessing it is important to check the strings and knots on the Tallit to make sure there are eight strings, the correct number of coils in each group and that there are the correct number of sets of double knots. This is important because any torn strings or wrong number of groups of coils will make the Tzitzit – and by extension, the Tallit – no longer fit to be used.
When checking the Tallit, the custom is to keep the Tallit folded up as it was when in the bag and placed on the shoulder. Make sure the strings are untangled as well. Once this is done, many recite verses from the Torah or a lengthy Kabbalistic prayer with the Tallit still placed on the shoulder.
The blessing said over the Tallit in Hebrew is Baruch Atah Ado-noy Elo-hei-nu Melech ha’olam asher kidishanu bimitzvotav v’tzivanu l’hitatef b’tzitzit, or “Blessed are you, Lord our G?d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to enwrap ourselves with Tzitzit” in English.
While there are different ways of wrapping one’s self in the Tallit, the two most common ways are to wrap the entire upper body – including the head – in the Tallit or to wrap it around the head and shoulders as if it were a shawl, tossing the corners over one of the shoulders. The shoulder the Tallit corners are draped over does not matter, although Kabbalistic teachings prefer the left side.
Please note that it if you also wear a Tallit Katan (Tzitzit), you only need make one blessing over the Tallit and simply keep in mind that the blessing also goes over the Tallit Katan.