Question: I have heard that some halachic authorities disapprove of placing a silver atarah on a talit. Is this true?
Answer: Yes. The Aruch HaShulchan (Orach Chayim 8:10) writes that wearing a silver atarah gives the impression that atifat harosh is more important than atifat haguf. But this is not so. It is atifat haguf that is essential, not atifat harosh. To offset this concern, some people place a strip of silver in the middle of their talit to signify the vital role of atifat haguf. Yet, this is not really sufficient.
The Ari Hakadosh did not have an atarah on his talit (nor do modern-day litvishe roshei yeshiva). Indeed, he didn’t have any marker on his talit whatsoever indicating which part of the talit was to be used for his head.
Many people do not buy a talit with a silver atarah, and I believe this is the proper practice. A talit should wholly be made of wool; there is no reason for silver or gold to adorn it.
Rabbi Cohen, a Jerusalem Prize recipient, is the author of several books on Jewish law. His latest, “Jewish Prayer The Right Way: Resolving Halachic Dilemmas” (Urim Publications), is available at Amazon.com and Judaica stores.