How to Tie Tzitzit

How to Tie Tzitzit

1. Before you try tying tzitzit to your tallit, it is advisable to practice with twine or heavy string looped around a chair leg.

2. Although you can spin or devise your own tzitzit strands, it is easier to buy a tzitzit pack, which is available at most Hebrew bookstores.

3. There will be 16 strands in the pack–4 long ones and 12 short ones. Separate these into four groups with one long and three short in each.

4. The longer strand is called the shamash [or helper] and is the one used for the winding.

5. Even up the four strands at one end and push the group through one of the corner holes in the tallit.

6. Even up seven of the eight strands (the four being doubled) and leave the extra length of the shamash hanging to one side.

7. With four strands in one hand and the other four in the other hand, make a double knot near the edge of the material. Take the shamash and wind it around the other seven strands in a spiral–seven turns. Be sure you end the winding where you began–otherwise you may end up with 7 1/2 or 6 1/2 winds. Make another double knot at this point (four over four).

8. Spiral the shamash eight times around. Double knot. Spiral the shamash 11 times around. Double knot. Spiral the shamash 13 times around. Final double knot.

This is the common, and halakhically [according to Jewish law] precise type of tying. There are, however, two variations on this:

1.  A Sephardic tying adds another dimension to the pattern: each time the shamash is brought around, take it under the previous wind before winding it further. This will produce a curving ridge around the tzitzit. This, too, should be practiced before trying it on the tallit.

2. Although not in strict accordance with the halakhah, some tie the tzitzit with the shamash spiraling 10-5-6-5 times respectively.

Sources: Essential Judaism,


Tzitzit (tseet-tseet or TSIT-sis) are the strings, or fringes, tied to each of the four corners of a tallit, or prayer shawl. They are widely considered a reminder, not unlike a string around one’s finger, to think of God at all times.

Tzitzit fulfill the following commandment in Numbers 37, in the Torah portion called Parshat Shlah:

Speak to the Israelite people and instruct them to make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments throughout the ages; let them attach a cord of blue to the fringe at each corner. That shall be your fringe; look at it and recall all the commandments of the LORD and observe them, so that you do not follow your heart and eyes in your lustful urge. Thus you shall be reminded to observe all My commandments and to be holy to your God.

The commandment to wear tzitzit is repeated in the V’ahavta section of the Shema prayer.

While traditional Jewish law says one must have these tzitzit on every four-cornered garment one wears, today most clothing doesn’t have corners. Instead, the tzitzit are on the prayer shawl and on a special small tallit , called a tallit katan, that some traditional Jews wear under their clothes. Some traditional Jews let the tzitzit from their tallit katan hang out, while others tuck them in.

The tzitzit are attached to the corners and knotted according to a specific pattern.

To learn how to tie tzitzit:

Tallit (Jewish Prayer Shawl)

The tallit (tall-EET) or tallis (TALL-us) is a large rectangular shawl made of wool, cotton or synthetic fibers. In each of the four corners of the shawl are strings tied in a particular pattern, called tzitzit. The origin of the tzitzit is biblical; the practice is prescribed in Numbers 15. The precept is to put these strings on the four corners of one’s garment — in ancient tradition, with a single strand of blue as well–as a reminder of the duties and obligations of a Jew. Since we no longer wear four-cornered garments, the tallit is worn specifically to fulfill the biblical precept.

Traditionally, men wear a tallit during morning services; in non-Orthodox synagogues, many women also wear a tallit. In some Orthodox congregations, only married men wear a tallit. One may see people gathering the tzitzit in their left hand and kissing them when the paragraph from the Torah referring to them is recited.

Most synagogues have prayer shawls available for visitors to use during services. However, many people prefer to purchase their own prayer shawl. A wide variety are sold at most Judaica stores and on the Internet.

Before putting on the prayer shawl, it is customary to say the following blessing:

Watch the video below for more on how to put on tallit:

Sources: Essential Judaism,