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    The Gemorah in Menochos states, “the mitzvah of tzitzis is equal to all of the other mitzvahs combined.” If one is careful with the mitzvah of tzitzis he merits being mekabel the shechina. One who fulfills the mitzvah of tzitzis is zoche to techiyas hameisim. Tzitzis is a segula for protection against any danger.

    Checking The Tzitzis

    Before one recites the beracha on his tallis, one should check to see if his tzitzis are intact and kosher. We do not rely on a chazaka and say that if they were good until now, we assume that they are kosher now. If one does not check them before the beracha, it may be a beracha l’vatalah. Some say one should check the tzitzis from the hole on the garment until the knot of the tzitzis. Today, tzitzis are made very strong and the chances of anything happening to them are very slim, nonetheless, one should check them.The custom seems to be that the tzitzis are checked on Shabbos morning as well. One who comes late to shul, and has no time to check his tzitzis before davening, may rely on the chazaka and recite the beracha. Some have the custom to place their tallis on their shoulder when checking the strings.

    Separating The Tzitzis Strings

    One has to separate each string of tzitzis from each other before a beracha is recited on them. Some say that this was only applicable when the custom was to wear techeilis, and one would separate the blue strings from white strings. Even today, one should detach the strings from one another even though techeilis is not worn today. The Biur Halacha says if one sees that the tzitzis are stuck together then one should separate them from each other (see footnote). Some say one should separate the tzitzis because by doing so it will arouse ones concentration.

    Reciting The Customary Pesukim

    Before reciting the beracha one should have in mind that Hashem commanded us to place tzitzis upon us in order to remember his mitzvahs. If one just had in mind to perform a mitzvah of tallis then one was yotzei b’dieved. Before one makes the beracha, it is customary to say yihi rotzon and burchei nafshi. Some have the custom to recite leshem yichud before the beracha, while others do not have this custom.

    The Beracha

    The custom is to first recite the beracha on the tallis, and then the beracha on the tefillin. One should take the tallis in both his right and left hand in order that he has a better grip on the tallis (refer to picture # 1).The beracha should not be said when the tallis is folded on ones shoulders, or folded in ones hands, (refer to picture # 2), since that would not constitute o’ver l’asiyuson (the beracha should be recited right before the mitzvah), rather the tallis should be opened before the beracha is recited. The beracha (and the atifa) should be recited standing. If one recited the beracha while sitting, he was yotzei b’dieved. The beracha has to be recited before the atifa-wrapping. Most poskim maintain that one should pronounce the bais b’tzitzis with a patach – batzisis. However, the Mishnah Berurah and many other poskim maintain that the nusach that one should say is, l’hisatef betzisis. If one recited al mitzvahs tzitzis instead of l’hisatef he was yotzei. When one is about to recite the beracha, one should look at his tzitzis.

    The Atifa – Wrapping Of The Tallis

    There is a dispute in the poskim as to how the tallis should be placed on oneself. Some say that one does not need a wrapping, rather one has to place the tallis on his body as he would place any garment on himself, sometimes the head is covered and sometimes not (refer to picture # 3). Others say we find a language of eituf by a tallis, and we know that the yishmueylim do eituf, therefore, many poskim maintain that we must wrap ourselves like yishmueylim. The Gemorah in Moed Katton states that any atifa that is not like the atifas yishmueylim is not an atifa. There is a discussion in the poskim as to the correct way to perform this atifa. Many poskim say that one should place the tallis over his face until the tallis reaches his mouth and then take the strings and throw it over his left side (refer to picture #4 and #5). (Some have the custom to place all four strings over the left shoulder; others place them over the right shoulder as well. Some place two over the right shoulder and two over the left one). According to this explanation, it would seem that it was not possible for the Arabs to see while walking around since their entire face is covered. Some say that even if one does it this way, it is acceptable since the tallis lifts up a bit and one is able to see, and this is the way the Arabs wear it. Others maintain that this is not the correct way, and one should only cover the tallis up until his eyes, and wrap the tzitzis on the side of his face to the left side. This way, one may see what he is doing, and this is also the way that the Arabs wear their turbans. One should make sure that the tallis remains on his body a little to be considered doing eituf yishmueylim on the body as well. According to all opinions one may not place the tallis passed his mouth going until his stomach since it is not possible for one to see, and it is not called an atifa (refer to picture # 6). Wrapping the tallis around ones neck and doing a wrapping is not a valid atifa (refer to picture # 7). After the atfia is finished, one should place the tzitzis, two on the right and two on the left in order to be surrounded entirely in this mitzvah (refer to picture # 8). When the atifa is finished, one should recite ma yukor. One should keep himself wrapped for the amount of time that it would take to walk four amos. It is proper that one covers his head with his tallis (refer to picture # 9).

    The Atara

    In order for one to know which side is the top of the tallis and which side is the bottom a simon was made on the tallis. This is the silk material that surrounds the top of the talleisim. The custom of the Arizal was not to have any simon. Many have the custom to place an atara on the tallis to serve as a simon and to beautify the tallis. Some have the custom to place an atara in the middle of the tallis. Many Chassidim have the custom to have a silver atara that is woven.

    The Lines On Talleisim

    The Ashkenazim have black lines on their talleisim, while the Sefardim have white lines. Some say the reason for the black lines and/or the white lines is to add class and style to the talleisim. Others maintain the reason is to serve a remembrance of techeilis, since the blood that the techeilis is made from is black. The Sefer Matamim quotes the following reason; When techeilis was worn, the people who worked with the techeilis placed blue lines on their talleisim in order that one was able to identify the people that worked with the techeilis. When techeilis stopped being worn, black lines were placed on the tallis as a remembrance.

    Single Men Wearing A Tallis Gadol

    The custom in most circles is that single men do not wear a tallis gadol by davening. (Except for certain situations. i.e; when davening for the amud). Some say the reason is because the posuk says ךל†השעת†≠†םילידג†and this posuk is next to the posuk of השא†שיא†≠†חקי†יכ¨†therefore one only wears tzitzis when he gets married. The custom of the Sefardim and Jews originating from Germany is that they wear talleisim when they are single. Some say the reason why some wear a tallis gadol even before marriage is because they are concerned that the tallis katton may be to small for the correct shiur. If a single man has the custom to wear a tallis by davening, and now finds himself at a shul where the custom is that single men do not wear a tallis gadol at davening, he may still wear his tallis gadol, and does not have to follow the minhag of the place that he is davening at.