Friday, October 24, 2008

A slippery slope of the annoying kind

I've heard that, according to halachah/Jewish religious law, a commandment that must be fulfilled more frequently takes precedence over a commandment that must be fulfilled less frequently, under most circumstances. I wish an exception had been been made for putting on the tallit and tefillin. Since a tallit must be worn every day, the ruling is that one must put on the tallit first, then put on the tefillin, which are not worn on Shabbat/Sabbath or Shalosh Regalim (Pilgrimage Festivals). If the person who came up with that ruling were alive today, I'd shoot 'im. Almost every weekday morning, my tallit slides off my shoulders while I'm laying tefillin. This morning, first, the tallit slid off one shoulder, then, just as I was starting to wind the tefillin strap around my arm, it slid off the other shoulder. At that point, I just "lost it," and let fly with a few choice words. This was a double no-no, since I've been told that one isn't supposed to say anything but the brachot/blessings and traditional texts between the time one begins putting on the tallit and the time one finishes putting on the tefillin. So nu, do tallit clips work with a below-the-waist tallit--I refuse to wear one of those "bandaid" tallitot frequently worn in non-Orthodox synagogues--and/or does anyone have a better idea?


Blogger Nachum said...

Tallit clips make it a bit more difficult to pull it over your head, if that's an issue.

I think balance is everything. You just have to have the tallit high enough on your shoulders. (Or hunch your shoulders a bit if they slope too much.)

I haven't thought about this in the context of putting on tefillin, but on Shabbat, I see lots of people who just let the tallit hang down. Ah well.

Actually, during the week, there's one rather uncoordinated guy in my shul who's engaged in a constant dance with his kippah, tallit, and tefillin. One falls off, he adjusts it, another then falls off, etc. etc. I think he just drops his tallit before taking off his tefillin. (I almost had a panic attack when they gave him hagbah one day. Turns out my fears were justified, although the worst didn't happen.)

Sun Oct 26, 03:40:00 AM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've recently started to lay tefillin, and I have had the same thought.

The other morning, as I was wrapping seven times around my forearm, the fringes of the talit managed to get totally twisted in the retzuah. It took me a good few minutes to straighten the mess out, feeling like a dope the whole time and trying desperately not to curse.

Sun Oct 26, 05:33:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Nachum, the only time I put the tallit over my head is right after the brachah. If it's permissible to put on a clip before putting on tefillin, I'd love to try that and see how it works. I know that many people put the tallit over their heads during the Amidah, but I figure that, as a woman wearing a tallit, I look "holier than thou" as it is, in the eyes of some.

Anon., been there, done that. Oy. There's also the interesting problem, in cold weather, of not getting your rolled-up or pushed-up long sleeve caught under the retzuah, which is also a no-no, since the retzuah must be directly against the body. Ah, the challenges of being a newbie, or a relative newbie, at wearing tefillin. How come this kind of stuff never seems to happen to my husband? (Grumble, grumble, kvetch and mumble, Why does my arm tefillin so often tumble? [To be precise, the bayit falls down below the elbow and/or the retzuah gets loose and slides down to my wrist in a heap. Sigh.])

Mon Oct 27, 11:39:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Tzipporah said...

I've been known to use my son'[s SpongeBob Squarepants mitten-clips on my tallis to keep it from falling off... good luck to you!

Mon Oct 27, 02:02:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Tzipporah, thanks for the laugh! :)

Mon Oct 27, 11:23:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Tevel said...

Ah, the tallit balancing act! I took inspiration from a colleague of mine who always looks for the good in whatever bad she encounters, so I try to look at it this way: I treat settling my tallis before I lay tefillin as an aspect of kavanah. I think it helps me to remain focused on what I'm doing, too. And if my tzitzit wrap in with the retzuah, as can happen, I also take the separation as an act of focus.

I, too, wear a traditional tallit, and I've only worn clips with it once. I found them to be even more irritating and distracting.

Nachum, I shuddered when you mentioned the Schlemazel as hagbah...

Wed Oct 29, 10:36:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Tevel, one of the things I'm trying to work on, without much luck thus far, is developing a more positive attitude--I tend, by nature, to be a cockeyed pessimist. (Hmm, I think I blogged about that, ages ago.) Maybe I should try to use the process as an opportunity to focus. That's a good thought--thanks for the idea. Kavannah/focus is a problem for me, especially since I tend to be distractable anyway, having a touch of the olde Attention Deficit Disorder.

Much to my surprise, I just found a pair of tallit clips on my husband's dresser a couple of days ago. (They're a recent gift from someone, he tells me). I've only tried them once, thus far. My current assessment is that they don't keep the tzitzit from sliding off my shoulders when I flip them over the top (in the traditional manner), but they do, at least, keep the tallit from landing in a heap on the floor while I'm winding the retzuah around my arm and/or in the middle of the Amidah.

Wed Oct 29, 07:13:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate tallis clips. But you have one mistake in your post: You can't interrupt once you start putting on your tefillin. You certainly can interrupt between tallis and tefillin. They're separate mitzvot.

you should also consider wearing a shirt that provides some friction. if your tallis is wool, the friction on the shirt helps.

Mon Nov 03, 04:32:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Nachum said...

jdub is right, by the way: You certainly can interrupt between the tallit and teffillin.

I've found that the only time my retzuah gets tangled in the tzitzit is if I didn't completely unwrap the retzuah. If I take a second to do so, it doesn't get tangled in. That may be because it hangs away, or it may be because it simply has no tangles to catch.

Mon Nov 03, 11:01:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

JDub and Nachum, thanks for the info about interrupting between tallit and tefillin. That makes sense--it hadn't occurred to me that the fact that they're separate mitzvot makes a difference in that regard.

JDub, the two tallitot I'm using (one at home or for traveling, one left in the "minyannaires" boxes in shul) are both wool. That helps, but not enough. As for my shirts, it's probably just as well that I tend to wear cotton blends, as opposed to silk or satin, or silk- or satin-textured polyester. It's also just as well that I'm often too hot (since I reached my forties) to wear long-sleeved sweaters or polos indoors--it's difficult, if not impossible, to push them up far enough above the elbow to lay tefillin.

Nachum, I'll take your advice and be sure to unwrap the retzuah completely. Thanks for the tip.

Wed Nov 05, 05:59:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for wonderful blog Talit clips .Tallit clips in different sizes,designs, and colors at affordable prices.

Thu Sep 12, 05:39:00 AM 2013  

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