Not too long ago, all tallitot (Jewish prayer shawls) were white with black, or maybe blue stripes. Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi designed the first Rainbow Tallit, in which each stripe and color of the rainbow has a meaning from Jewish mysticism. Reb Zalman’s Rainbow Tallit opened the gates to tallitot with every variety of color and creative design. Have you found your own?
The colors of the rainbow represent colors associated with the Sefirot (or Sephirot), according to the Kabbalists, ten divine energies or qualities that emanate from the Godhead into the created world. The qualities are found on the macro level in the whole universe and on the micro level as energy centers in the body and qualities in the human mind and personality. Read about the history and meaning of the Rainbow Tallit.
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, of blessed righteous memory, wearing Rainbow Tallit in Ashland, Oregon at Havurah Shir Hadash. Photo by Jim Young.
Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, asher kid’shanu be-mitzvotav ve-tzivanu le-hitatef ba-tzitzit.
–blessing for putting on a tallit (tzitzit, ritually fringed garment)
Bless YHWH my soul. YHWH my God, how great you are! You are clothed in glory and majesty! You wrap yourself in light as with a garment. You stretch out the heavens like a curtain–Psalm 104
Reb Zalman of blessed memory, putting on a rainbow tallit: