Big and Tall(it)

As I have mentioned before, I will be celebrating my Bar Mitzvah as an adult in just a few short weeks (ah!). While the ceremony itself involves quite a bit of preparation, some of the minutiae of planning sort of hit me a bit later. One of the most intriguing experiences that I have had while getting ready for my November morning has not involved hiring a caterer for the kiddush luncheon, or sending out invitations. No. What, you ask? Well, take a look at this:

Size 8: 8” X 42” (20 cm X 105 cm)

Size 12: 12” X 42” (30 cm X 105 cm)

Size 36a: 36” X 52” (90 cm X 130 cm)

Size 18: 18” X 72” (45 cm X 180 cm)

Size 24: 24” X 72” (60 cm X 180 cm)

Size 36: 36” X 72” (90 cm X 180 cm)

Size 45: 44” X 64” (110 cm X 160 cm)

Size 50: 48” X 68” (120 cm X 170 cm)

Size 55: 52” X 72” (130 cm X 180 cm)

Size 60: 56” X 76” (140 cm X 190 cm)

Size 70: 60” X 80” (150 cm X 200 cm)

Size 80: 68” X 84” (170 cm X 210 cm)

Size 90: 72” X 84” (180 cm X 210 cm)

  • Average height bar mitzva: Size 36
  • Tall bar mitzva, short adult: Size 45-50
  • Average adult: Size 55-60
  • Large or tall adult: Size 70-80
  • Big & Tall and supersize: Size 90 ( 

Confused? I was! This is just one of many online sizing charts that I came across while searching for the perfect tallit to wear on the big day. For those who don’t know, the tallit is a prayer shawl that Jews wear at certain times while at schul. The shawl can be worn in the traditional way, which basically covers the whole back, or in a more “modern” fashion, which is almost like a scarf. Of course, sizing depends on the manner in which you plan on wearing the tallit, how you would like the tallit to fit, and also how well you can understand the dimensions on the charts. You can also choose the type of tzitzit that you would like. The tzitzit are the fringes on the tallit that are actually used during prayer and Torah service. The commandment to wear the fringes (tzizit) can be found in Numbers 15 if you are interested in the origins. I eventually emailed a few of the most reputable tallit shops, and I got a few different answers. I heard everything from “we don’t usually carry that size,” to “just look at our sizing chart.” But, I already did, and I was confused, so I emailed you…

Well anyway, after deciding upon the tallit that I was comfortable with, and that seemed to be the right size, I put my order in, and received that fresh and wonderful confirmation email. The next day, I received another email in the afternoon. “Wow, they are already shipping it!” I thought to myself as I clicked the email open. “Thank you for your order, but unfortunately we don’t have that tallit in that size. We actually don’t have many in that size.” Oy. By the way, I am about 6’ 4” with fairly broad shoulders, so I am used to having some trouble finding the perfect size in anything worn. I suppose I just did not envision this issue extending out to holy wear. I searched around some more, and I found a tallit that I really liked. I caved in and just picked the largest size that they had from a drop down menu. I chose the Ashkenazi style tzitzit (I wasn’t aware of all the details of this before), and I ordered.

I finally received my tallit in the mail. A handsome white tallit with some gold and black on the cloth part (called the beged). There are a few Magen David, and some Menorahs adorning the beged. The blessing for the tallit is written along the neck of the tallit:

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-olam A-sher Ki-de-sha-nu B’mitz-vo-tav V’tzi-va-nu L’hit-a-teif Be-Tzi-tzit. ( 

 Well, through all of the searching, I am more than happy with my tallit, and this is just one of the details that make this day so special to me. I have never owned a tallit, and I hope to pass it down to my son one day, maybe even on his Bar Mitzvah. I just hope he’s at least as “tall-is” I am. Wow, that’s bad, so I should end on that for sure.

Here is the final tallit (pictures of me wearing it will be saved for later!):



Published by Joshua Gray

I am Joshua Gray. I am a husband, father, not-for-profit-worker by day, and a former professional actor/singer. I am very active in the Jewish community in my area, helping to teach at religious school on Sundays, while also serving on the board of trustees at my local temple. My relationship with Judaism is a joy of mine, and I find great pleasure in studying texts and learning more and more Hebrew. I still enjoy warbling tunes, and I even got to sing the Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur, which was a definite highlight. Please feel free to contact me with any ideas for topics, conversations, or general inquiries. Shalom!

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