The Gartel is a belt used by Jewish males, predominantly but not exclusively, Hasidim during prayer. "Gartel" is Yiddish for "belt". The word comes from the German "Gürtel", which is also cognate with the English "girdle", and "girt".
The vast majority of those that wear a Gartel during prayer are Hasidic Orthodox Jews; a smaller number of non-Hasidic Haredim and an even smaller number of non-Haredi Orthodox Jews (or even non-Orthodox Jews) may also wear a gartel during prayer.
Gartels are generally very modest in appearance. Most are black, but some gartels are white, possibly to be used on some special occasions such as Yom Kippur, and cost more than black counterparts of the same width. Gartels are composed of multiple strings, anywhere from four to over forty in number.
Jewish law requires that there be a physical divide between the heart and the genitalia during any mention of God's name. It is commonly explained that separating the upper and lower parts of the body manifests a control of the animal instincts of the person by the distinctly human intellect.
Additionally, donning a gartel is a preparation for prayer, in accordance with the line "Prepare to meet your God, O Israel" in the Biblical verse, Amos 4:12 (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 91:2). The Mishnah Berurah (91:5) states that any waistband is adequate for the first requirement, however for the second requirement more is needed, which the gartel fulfills.
Hasidic authorities maintain that a regular belt or the waistband of trousers do not suffice to fulfill this requirement, and that a designated sash is to be used. Other authorities maintain that other modifications, such as donning a formal hat and jacket, suffice to fulfill the second requirement of preparation for prayer, as long as the first requirement is fulfilled.
- Queenann, Gavriel (Mar/1/12). "Nadvorna Rebbe Passes Away, Burial Today on Mt. of Olives". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved Mar/19/12.