Ask The Rabbi

Prayer - Wear, Where?

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Topic: Bathroom, Wearing Tallis in a

Michael Turniansky wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

How come one takes off the talit gadol [large talit] when entering the bathroom, but not the talit katan [small talit worn under the shirt]? Is there an essential kedusha [holiness] difference between them? If so, why?

Dear Michael Turniansky,

It's improper to enter the bathroom wearing a garment that's designated for prayer. The large talit is such a garment -- it's made to be worn specifically during prayer (hence the term 'prayer shawl'). Therefore, it's improper to go into the bathroom wearing it.

The talit katan, on the other hand, is worn all day long; during work, play ... some people even sleep wearing one. Since it isn't a garment designated specially for prayer, it may therefore be worn in the bathroom.

Which reminds me:

One Shabbat a man spilled grape juice on his talit. The very next day he brought it to the cleaners. When the time came to pick it up, he was stunned see the bill for $50.

"Fifty dollars!" he shouted. "To clean one little talit?"

"Do you have any idea how long it took me to get out all those little knots!" the dry-cleaner replied.

  • Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 21:3, Mishna Berura 14

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