After we realize that the Torah is not done away with, and we start to reread our Bibles, one of the verses we run across is Numbers 15:38. This is the verse where we are commanded to wear tzitzit, which is worded as fringes or tassel in most translations. Let’s look at the verses.
“Speak to the children of Israel, and you shall say to them to make tzitzit on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue cord in the tzitzit of the corners. “And it shall be to you for a tzitzit, and you shall see it, and shall remember all the commands of YHWH and shall do them, and not search after your own heart and your own eyes after which you went whoring, so that you remember, and shall do all My commands, and be set-apart unto your Elohim.
Thou shalt make thee fringes(tassels) upon the four quarters(wings) of thy vesture(garment), wherewith thou cover thyself.
The command is to wear the tzitzit (H6734 fringes, tassel) with a thread of blue on the corners or borders of our garments. These were to serve as a constant reminder for YHWH’s children to remember His instructions and not follow the world. It’s also interesting to note that this commandment was given right after the commandment to keep the Sabbath Holy was broken.
It’s important to point out that wearing tassels was not something that started with the Israelites. This was a style of dress that was in use by other Ancient Near Eastern cultures well before the commandment was given in Numbers 15 1http://tekhelet.com/pdf/Milgrom-OfHems-1983.pdf. What set Israel apart was the thread of blue in their tassels. In the Ancient Near East, blue was a very expensive color. When people saw the Israelites with blue in their tassels, it was a sign of honor and royalty. The blue dye used was from the Murex snail, and it’s estimated that over 12,000 snails were needed to make just 1.5 grams of dye. To put it into perspective, in 200 B.C., one gram of this dye would be worth almost $200 today (Milgrom, 1983). That’s $88,199 a pound in today’s dollars (figures adjusted for inflation). The point is…This blue wasn’t cheap, so it’s highly unlikely that anyone besides the Israelites would have had blue in their tassels.
Next, we’d like to discuss a few issues around this commandment because there are many arguments and divisions today over the correct way to wear tzitzits. Some people wear a tallit katan, some have them on their belt, attached to belt loops, pinned to their skirt or shirt, and some people will only wear ones made by particular rabbi’s or only made by their own hands. We are not here to argue over the correct way to wear them. What really matters is, are you wearing them, do they have blue as commanded, and are you wearing them for the right reasons?
Another question we get asked is should women wear them. The commandment was for all the children of Israel and doesn’t seem to be specific to men only but here is something to consider. In the Ancient Near East, the man is considered the head of the household, so he was the one who was out and about while the woman was usually within the home. In Jewish tradition, the men are the ones that wear them. We cannot say for sure that a woman should or should not wear them, but we have to ask, why would anyone claiming to be a child of YHWH not want to wear a symbol given by Him to remind us of His instructions?
Since corner or border (H3671 kânâph) is used within the commandment let’s look at this word more closely.
It is defined as wing, extremity, edge, winged, border, corner, skirt
*skirt, corner (of garment)
It’s also called a wing, as noted above, so let’s look at a few examples of this word in other places in scripture.
“But to you who fear My Name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings (H3671). And you shall go out and leap for joy like calves from the stall.
Now let’s look at an example given where healing was in the wings.
And Y’shua rose and followed him, His taught ones too. And see, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the tzitzit of His garment. For she said to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I shall be healed.”
And wherever He went, into villages, or cities, or the country, they were laying the sick in the market-places, and begged Him to let them touch if only the tzitzit of His garment. And as many as touched Him were healed.
And a woman, having a flow of blood for twelve years, who, having spent all her livelihood on physicians, was unable to be healed by any, came from behind and touched the tzitzit of His garment. And immediately her flow of blood stopped.
Even though our Messiah was sinless and didn’t need a reminder to keep the commandments, He wore them just as commanded and there was healing that came from them. What better example do we need than our Messiah? This, in a way, is similar to rings worn by married couples. It is a symbol that represents who we belong to and shows our commitment to the Father and His instructions. The world may see them as whatever they choose, but YHWH sees them as love and obedience.
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