Tying Ella’s Tzitzit




I finished Ella's tallit yesterday morning. In the afternoon, Ella came by with her mother and grandmother to tie the tzitzit.  When I first started making tallitot  I used to tie the tzitzit for my clients. What I have learned over time is that the act of tying the tzitzit  creates a real ownership of the tallit by my client.  I think of it as the halachic term kinyan ,  literally taking ownership.

When family members participate  in the act of tying the tzitzit a truly sweet family moment takes place in a quiet setting before the hubbub of the bar or bat-mitzvah.


Ella was  accompanied by her mother and her grandmother. Grandma began asking me about the sources for wearing tallit.  As I filled Grandma in on some of the historical background of tallit, she informed me that she was an Art Historian specializing in the art of ancient Mesopotamia. Clearly this was not your run of the mill Bubbie.

I usually have the bar or bat mitzvah  tie the first of the four tzitzit on their own without the rest of their family participating. As Ella got to work, her grandmother informed me that in ancient Mesopotamia, people used to sign clay slab documents by pressing the fringes of their garments  to the clay. she continued that  by touching your fringe to a document it indicates your agreement with that document.

Anyone who has ever been called to the Torah knows that very same behavior when we touch our tzitzit  to the Torah at the blessings before and after our aliya.


Ella finished tying the tzitzit on one corner and then went on to the next.


Ella and her grandmother worked on the last two corners together.


Ella and her grandmother have very different styles of working with their hands. There is always something very companionable about two people working with their hands on the same task side by side.


Ella is shy about having her picture taken, so I didn’t include her beautiful face in any of these photos. I figured that this weekend will include as much photo taking as she can stand.





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