The Tallit Prayer Shawl or the ‘Tallit Gadol’ is an example of a background rich in tradition and intricate detail and beauty, Judaism. A rectangular garment with tzitzit string fringes on the 4 corners, it is usually white, and often has dark colored stripes along the short sides of the rectangle in memory of the ‘Tcheilet’, the dye used in the
past to color the tzitziot. It can also have intricate designs and artistic wording as decoration and many also have a special artistic embellished design called an ‘Atarah’ on the part of the tallit worn by the neck.
Orthodox jews also often wear a similar garment called the ‘Tallit Katan’ throughout the day, a smaller four cornered garment with fringes on the corners worn under or over the shirt, depending on personal preference and/or tradition.
In order to observe and perform the mitzva (commandment) of tzitzit, one incorporates the use of a tallit and tefillin, wearing them and reciting a blessing for the tzitzit as well as a number for the tefillin. The tallitot (plural of tallit) are wrapped around the shoulders the way a shawl would be, with the atarah on top, by the back of the neck, and not only around the neck like a scarf. And remember! If your tallit has a blessing or some kind of holy text, care should be taken not to bring it into the bathroom, out of respect for the holy texts.
Both men and women over bar/bat mitzva age (12 for girls and 13 for boys, the age of maturity according to halacha) can wear tallitot according to jewish law, though it’s more commonly used by men by far. It is worn during morning prayers ideally, both on weekdays and on shabbat, other than during the ‘kol-nidre’ service on yom kippur and is not worn during the night.
The tallit can be made of any fabric except for a mixture of wool and linen, and is usually made of cotton, silk, or wool. Ashkenazi tradition usually involves a wool tallit while some Spanish and Portuguese Jews use tallitot made of silk.