When you are buying wool tzitzit to tie on a prayer shawl (talit) or talit katan, you are faced with a decision; should you buy machine made or handmade?
When I think of handmade threads, I think of young yeshiva boys sitting in a big room with large spinning wheels and a hum of holiness as they prepare the threads for my tzitzit. When I think about machine made tzitzit, a dark and dingy room comes to mind, with lots of noise and moving belts and steam coming off of the production line as it grinds out a an inferior and unholy product.
I learned that the reality is not what I imagined.
The process of spinning tzitzit threads for a prayer shawl is simple. The individual threads have to be twisted together by a machine to make a single eight-ply thread that is cut up into pieces. The machines for machine made and handmade are essentially the same, but the difference is that in the case of handmade threads, a person turns a crank instead of a motor doing the work. Watch the video below, it is fascinating to watch.
So when you are choosing handmade or machine made tzitzit strings, for either a talit or tallit katan, you should have an understanding of what “handmade” or “avodat yad” means.