Thursday, November 14, 2013

How to Wrap the Tallit

With H-shem's help, we have begun learning Hilchot Tzitzit with the Ben Ish Chai, Hacham Yosef Hayyim of Baghdad. The sefer is translated by Shmuel Hiley and published by Yeshivath Ahavath Shalom Publications in Jerusalem 5765/2005. He calls the names of the Chapters by the names of Parashiot, so instead of Chapter One, the first chapter is called Parashath Bereshith, Laws of Ziziyoth. Please note these are for learning purposes only.  For the halacha lemaaseh, i.e. for what to do yourself please ask your own Rav.  

Parashath Bereshith, Laws of Ziziyoth, Page 4-5
5. The correct sequence in which to put on the tallith gadhol, following the ruling of our teacher the Arizal, is as follows: After having recited the berachah, one should wrap one's head in the tallith - not like those who try to be clever, and drape their whole body in the tallith straight away.

['Odh Yosef Hai (11) I would now like to mention another point, namely that when one puts the tallith over one's head, it should not cover one's face.  Even though the rest of the head, including the forehead, must be wrapped in the tallith, the eyes must remain uncovered, otherwise it would not be what is referred to in Hebrew as 'ittuf,' over which we recite the berachah 'lehithattef,' and it would not resemble the Arab manner of wearing headgear, which is the explicit example given in Sha'ar Ha-Kawwanoth (4a), citing the Geonim.

An analogy can be found in the Talmudh (Mo'edh Qatan, 24a) 'Shmuel said {in regarde to the way in which a mourner must cover his head} "Any method of covering ('ittuf') which is not similar to the Arab custom is incorrect."  Rav Nahman demonstrated by pointing to his chin {to indicate which part of the face should be covered}.' Thus, we infer that, although the chin must remain covered, the eyes should not.

The Talmudh also rules (ibid.) that 'on Shabbath, the mourner may uncover his head by revealing his nose, moustache and beard, which were covered throughout the period of weekday mourning.' Again, we infer that ('ittuf, the 'Arab custom of wearing headgear') requires that the eyes should be revealed.

Further support to this can be brought from the 'Aruch, under the entry '-t-f,' where it is written: 'The Arab custom of covering....entails covering nose, moustache and beard.')]

After wrapping one's head in the tallith, the four corners of the tallith should be hanging down across one's chest, two to the right and two to the left.  One then takes the two corners which lie to the right, and throws them over the left shoulder, so that now they lie across the throat and left shoulder, and hang down the back; the two corners that were originally lying on the left side should be left there at present.  The tallith should be left in that position for approximately the time it takes to walk four ammoth, and then one should throw the left-hand pair of corners over the left shoulder, on top of the first pair, so that now all four corners lie across the left shoulder and for the time it takes to walk four ammoth, and then its lower edges should be allowed to slide off the shoulders and cover the entire body, so that one will now be wrapped, head and body, in the tallith.

(This is the sequence described in Sefer Ha-Kawwanoth (Derush HaZizith, chapter 1), as explained by the author of Emeth LeYaaqov z'l (page 107d), and is also explicit in the Siddur of our master Rashash z'l.  However, what I have just written about waiting the time it takes to walk four ammoth between throwing the right-hand corners of the tallith over the left shoulder, and throwing the left-hand corners over the left shoulder is not explicit in either the works of our earlier Sages z'l, or in the writings of Rashash z'l.  I have deduced it from the words of the latter, where he explains that each movement requires specific Kabbalistic meditations and , even though we are not capable of pursuing these holy ways, we should still wait the specified length of time between the two actions, in order at least to fulfill the stipulated sequence, if not the entire meditation.)

['Odh Yosef Hai (7) As one throws the right-hand pair of corners over one's left shoulder, it is a good thing to meditate on the verse (Yeshayahu, 61:10) 'Sos asis ba-Shem, taghel nafshi beloqai....' And, after having thrown the left-hand pair of corners over one's left shoulder, it is good to quietly recite the following three verses: (Tehillim, 46:8) 'Ha-Shem Zevaqoth 'immanu...'; (Tehillim, 84:13) 'Ha-Shem Zevaqoth, ashre adham...'; and (Tehillim, 20:10) Ha-Shem hoshi'ah, ha-melech ya'anenu...']

This learning should be in memory of Maran, HaRav HaGaon Ovadia Yosef, ztz'l.

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