Dear Rabbi Simon,
Following on from last week’s Q&A re tzitzit (is it a mitzvah?), why in the beracha on the Tallit does it not refer to the word tallit, but rather tzitzit which we have blessed (in a different formulation) before? Related to that, why do we have the tallit if we also have the tzizit?
Thanks and shavua tov
TY for your Q, and the chance to clarifiy this.
As per last week, the mitzvah of tzitzit is mentioned explicitly in the Torah, and can (should) easily be fulfilled throughout the day(light). In common practice, this mitzvah takes two specific forms: The tallit-katan (colloquially known simply as tzitzit) is usually a cotton or all-weather wool four-cornered garment worn under one’s shirt. The beracha on this mitzvah is straightforward: ‘al mitzvat tzitzit (see Artscroll Siddur p. 2). The second form of the mitzvah is through the tallit-gadol, often known simply as a tallit. (In fact, the word tallit just means garment of any sort.) As is well known, the tallit is generally worn only during prayer (particularly Shacharit). The beracha for the tallit-gadol is le-hitatef ba-tzitzit, to enwrap or envelope one’s self in the tzitzit (p. 4). However, this latter beracha in a way supersedes the previous one, as the tallit gadol provides more thorough “coverage” than the tallit katan. For this reason one who wears a tallit gadol (ie among most Ashkenazim, one who is [or was] married) generally does not recite a beracha on the tallit katan at all upon dressing in the morning, but rather relies on the beracha on the tallit gadol which he will say a short while later, when he begins the Shacharit prayers.
The reason for the tallit-gadol (and its superiority to the tallit-katan), is that it is much closer to the original intent of the Torah, of fringes on the four corners of the garment which actually covers the body. Imagine going out in public wearing only a tallit-katan, and you get the idea.
Rabbi Rashi Simon