Tallit Terminology

Atara – The embroidered piece of cloth or metal that is sewn to the back of a tallit.  Many atarot have the tallit blessing placed upon them.  If a tallit is used for burial, the atarah is removed.

Hole – The four strings of the tzitzit are folded through the hole.  This creates the appearance of eight strands for the tzitzit instead of the actual four.

Huppah – This is the traditional canopy used for a Jewish wedding.  Four posts are attached to it and it is held up over the bride and groom during the ceremony.  Many people elect to use a tallit as the actual canopy for their wedding ceremony.

Kittel – A white piece of clothing that is often worn for ceremonial purposes.  Jewish males are traditionally buried wearing just the kittel as a burial shroud.  Once placed in the kittel, a tallit is draped over the deceased before he is placed into the casket.

Mitzvah – A commandment from G-d that an observant Jew is religiously obligated to obey.  Donning the four corners of a tallit is one such Mitzvot.

Tallit – The Jewish prayer shawl, attached to the four corners of which, one would find the ritualistic Tzitzit.

Tallit Gadol – The larger tallit that is worn during morning prayer services, Shabbat, or any other service where the Torah is brought out.  This is what most people think of when referring to a general tallit.

Tallit Katan – The smaller tallit that is usually worn by an observant Jew as an undershirt and allows for the following of the mitzvot without donning the larger tallit.

Techelet – The blue dye that was used in Biblical times and has been rediscovered in modern times.  According to Rabbinic Judaism, a varying number of strings of each Tzitzit are to be dyed this color.  Despite its rediscovery, most modern Jews wear only white tzitziot.

Tzitzit – The ritualistically tied fringes found at the four corners of a tallit.  It is the actual tzitzit that are required to be worn in order to meet the commandment.  Many people will refer to the tzitzit as “the four corners.”