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What is the meaning of a prayer shawl?

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Quick Answer

A prayer shawl is an article of clothing worn during Jewish prayer that features fringes on its corners, which remind the wearer of the commandments in the Torah. The garment itself has no religious significance, with only the fringes having a deeper meaning.

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Full Answer

A prayer shawl is also known as a tallit, or tallitot in plural, and the fringes are called tzitzit. Tzitzit are special knotted fringes on all four corners. Tallitot are traditionally made of wool, silk or linen. A bar mitzvah is usually the first time a child wears a tallit. In Orthodox Ashkenazi circles, a tallit is presented to a groom as part of the dowry before marriage.

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