Handpainted Silk Tallit: A Sacred Jewish Gift For The Bar/Bat Mitzvah or Any Occasion
Judaism is rich with symbolism and never is this more apparent than with the Jewish tallit or prayer shawl. Jewish men and women wear their tallit to pray, during important ceremonies such as Bat Mitzvah, Bar Mitzvah, Jewish Weddings and Jewish burials. The tallit is to be treated with respect and worn for many years, if not a lifetime. The decision to give a tallit to the Bat or Bar Mitzvah can be seen as giving one of the most sacred of Jewish gifts. Its symbolism is rich and deep and the recipient should be honored. Read more below about what makes the tallit shawl one of the most sacred of all Jewish gifts.
TallitThe tallit, or tallis, has “tzitzit”, or specially knotted fringes, on each of its four corners. The tallit is never specifically mentioned in the Old Testament but is referred to in many passages. In the Book of Numbers, God instructs his people:
"Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel….You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them…”
The Mitzvah of the TallitThe significance of the tallit is at least three-fold. At its simplest, it is an ever-present reminder to follow God’s commandments. The tassels or fringes were to be worn to remind Israel of God's commandments.
Authority of the TallitA second significance was the authority that wearing these tassels gave the wearer. In 1 Samuel 24, David spares Saul’s life but not before cutting off the tassel from Saul’s robe in an act of stripping him of his authority, which he later regrets.
“And the men of David said to him, "Here is the day of which the LORD said to you, 'Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.'" Then David arose and stealthily cut off the skirt of Saul's robe. And afterward David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt. He said to his men, "The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD'S anointed, to put forth my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD'S anointed." So David persuaded his men with these words, and did not permit them to attack Saul.”
The Tallit and God's Royal KingdomA third and most important significance of the tallit was that, in ancient times, tassels added to the hem were not worn by commoners, but by the nobility or royalty. The tassels showed the wearer to be of royal descent, rather than a commoner. This is in line with God’s plan for his chosen people. In Genesis, the covenant that God makes with Abraham stresses the royal nature of Abraham’s descendants and the promise of a future dynastic kingdom. The Israelites are God’s chosen people in the sense that they will act as a “kingdom of priests” who will go between God and his people. This tallit will serve to set these royal, chosen people apart from those they represent before God. The blue thread is symbolic of royalty and monarchy.
The Tallit: A Sacred Jewish GiftThe symbolic history of the tallit makes it something that is at the very center of Jewish life. At the Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah, at the Jewish wedding, at the burial, the tallit is at the center of these ceremonies. In today’s society it is common to have more than one tallit so that an individual may be buried with the tallit they prayed with in life while still bequeathing one to a descendant. The act of giving a handpainted tallit is a sacred gift. It is a symbol of reverence, love and devotion. Be sure to peruse the beautiful, hand-painted silk tallit for yourself, your wife or that very special Bar Mitzvah in your life.
Learn more about tallit in Symbolism of the Tallit
See our entire collection of Silk Bijoux prayer shawl tallit.
See our interview with the artists of Silk Bijoux, handpainters of fine silk tallit.