Blue Tallit Stripes: Israel Today Response on Ask the Rabbi

Blue Tallit Stripes

Why is a particular blue color associated with Judaism? For example the Israeli flag, and the stripes on the tallit.

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

You’re very perceptive to have connected the two! The Israeli flag’s blue stripes are in fact based on the stripes of the tallit. How so?

In the third paragraph of the Shema prayer (Numbers 15:37-41), the Jewish people are instructed regarding the tzitzit, the strings tied to each corner of any four-cornered garment. In this paragraph we are told that one of the strings should be dyed blue.

The color of the blue dye is similar to the color of a clear sky. The purpose of the dyed string therefore is to remind us that God in Heaven is watching, and our actions should reflect that realization.

The blue in the Israeli flag is based on the blue string in the tzitzit. The stripes on the flag are based on the stripes found on the tallit.

David Wolffsohn (1856–1914), a businessman prominent in the early Zionist movement, was aware that the nascent Zionist movement had no official flag. He writes about preparations for the Zionist Congress: “What flag would we hang in the Congress Hall? Then an idea struck me. We have a flag — and it is blue and white. The talit with which we wrap ourselves when we pray: that is our symbol. Let us take this talit from its bag and unroll it before the eyes of Israel and the eyes of all nations. So I ordered a blue and white flag with the Shield of David painted upon it. That is how the national flag, that flew over Congress Hall, came into being.”

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