Why Don't Orthodox Jews Allow Women to Wear the Prayer Shawl?
318 1499 06/15/2019
The Jewish prayer shawl, also known as the "Tallit", is a large cloth made from cotton, synthetic fibers, or wool. Jewish men wear the Tallit during morning prayers in Orthodox churches, but women are not allowed to wear. In some exceptions, only married women are allowed to wear the Tallit. The cloth has pieces of strings attached to its four corners, which are assumed as a biblical commandment by the Jews.
One of the most apparent reasons why Jewish women do not wear the Tallit is from a biblical interpretation known as the “Halakha.” According to the Halakha, men were born to have a special place on earth while women have a different one. Both genders contribute to the fulfillment of different roles in synagogues and at home.
Below are four possible reasons why women are not allowed to wear the Jewish prayer shawl.
1. Orthodox Women are Exempt from Fulfilling Commandments
Jewish women are not allowed to wear the Tallit because they should not fulfill any time-bound commandment. These commandments include reciting the "Shema,” a kind of morning and night prayer. Another commandment that women are exempt is taking the four kinds during the “Sukkot” holiday. These commandments require the wearing of Tallit, and since women are not allowed to fulfill them, they are not allowed to wear the prayer shawl.
2. Biblical Interpretations
The Orthodox bible prohibits the wearing of clothing associated with the opposite gender. For example, women should not wear clothing designed for men, and men should not wear clothing designed for women. The Tallit is traditionally male clothing and is associated with individual prayer sessions, and thus, women cannot wear the cloth as it would be a breach of the scripture. On a mystical level, the inner workings of religion among Orthodox Jewish people are male-oriented while women have different roles and responsibilities.
3. It is a General Rule
The Orthodox Jewish people have a general rule of not being ostentatious and have always applied to both men and women. This rule is the reason Jewish women abstain from wearing the Tallit. Jewish women are aware that wearing the Tallit would draw undue attention for their ostentatious behavior and arrogance. The Tallit is worn mainly to fulfill biblical precept, and for this reason, Jewish women would seem to dictate a high level of religious arrogance by wearing the prayer shawl.
4. Women are only allowed to Wear Tallit in Private
The Orthodox Jews people allow women to wear the Tallit in private and not in public. The consideration is based on the reasoning that women also need to perform prayers on their own.
Just because Orthodox Jewish women are not seen in public wearing the Tallit, it is convincingly easy to assume that they are not allowed to wear the prayer shawl. It is important to note that Orthodox Jewish people maintain their traditional religious customs up to date. The Tallit has been a male prayer clothing among Orthodox Jewish people because religious activities are the responsibility of males.
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