Full Version: how the tallit speaks to the Church
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The tallit or "prayer shawl" is an important symbol from our Jewish roots given to the Church today.

For the Jewish believer, the tallit is a sign that he is always enveloped in the laws of God, as the fringes of the tallit represent obedience to the law. It is his own personal prayer closet, in which he can wrap himself and be alone with God. The tzit-tzit, or fringes on the four corners also symbolize The Name Ha Shem as there are 4 letters in the tetragrammaton that we interpret as Yahweh, or Jehovah.

When the woman with the issue of blood reached out and touched "the hem of his garment"....she was not grabbing the bottom of a robe...she was grabbing the tzit-tzit of his tallit....and thereby grabbing onto the very Name of God...in which she knew was the power to heal.

The tzit-tzit are a sign of authority. When David cut off "the corner of Saul's garment", he had cut off one of the tzit-tzit. A tallit without all 4 tzit-tzit is deemed invalid, and so what David did was effectively invalidate Saul's authority.

The tallit is also translated with the same words in the scripture as "wings". That gives a whole different picture, doesn't it, when one reads passages like "in the shadow of His wings", or Jesus's words over Jerusalem in Luke 13:34 "...How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!" Or this one: (Malachi 4:2) And to you who fear my Name, the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in his wings... which can be translated: "the Sun of Righteousness who would come with restoration in the corners of his tallit".

So when we use the tallit in Christian contexts, it can speak a message of intercession, of healing power, of intimacy with God, or of the beautiful metaphor of covering, protecting wings. I often choreograph my dances with the tallit, and it is a central symbol used in many of my altar and environment designs. It can be a powerful reminder of our Jewish roots

For more indepth scriptural exegesis, you might want to check out a condensed version of Dwight Pryor's teaching on the tallit: <URL url="http://www.jcstudies.com/touchinghemgarment.html">http://www.jcstudies.com/touchinghemgarment.html

Also available in book form - <URL url="http://www.messianicjewish.net/cgi-bin/webstore/quikstore.cgi?category=jewish_roots&page=webstore.html&search=yes">Touching the Hem of His Garment
What would you say if I told you that the modern Tallit is not a Biblical garment. As a matter of fact, it herolds from the 13th century, at the earliest form of what we would recognize as a Tallit.

Yes, agreed. There is no scriptural "pattern" for the body of the tallit. It has developed through the centuries into the large white rectangle with blue striping on the edges that is the picture most recognize today as the tallit. Granted, most would project that image onto the biblical references to the tallit.

In fact, the important part of the tallit...the fringes...can be worn in such a way that they are barely seen. [Note: tzitzit is usually translated as fringes, but actually refers to the tassels on the corners of the garment. There are also fringe-like, feathery knots decorating the unsewn, end edges between the tzitzit. These feathery features do not have significance. It's the tzitzit that makes the garment what it is.]

Perhaps, you would like to elaborate on just what it is that make a tallit authentic and what tzitzit in biblical times actually looked like?
Well, the Torah tells us the command from YHVH to MAKE tassels or Tzit-tzit for YOURSELVES and place them on the four corners of your garment.

What we see here is: Each person commanded to make tzit-tzit, placing them on their garment, four of them and wearing them there. We could assert that we should be wearing four corner garments, as well. This may seem archaic or too literal in thinking, however, we should look at the meaning of each aspect.

The tzit-tzit represent the Torah. It is to remind us of the commands of YHVH and to keep His Covenant. Furthermore, they tassels do not have to be tied twisted or made in any certain way with a blessing or saying or crossed-eyed or upsidedown on a merry go round.... Simply made with a blue thread and placed on the corners of one's garment.

By definition of having threads hanging, they will come to a point at the top, thus a tassel. A such, they remind us that the further we get away from Yeshua, the living Word come to us, thusly the Torah, we further we stray from YHVH. We risk being caught outside of His parameters, getting cut off, more staining occurs, and so forth. Add to this the aspect of blood. Yes, I realize Scripture speaks of scarlet cords which clearly symbolize blood. However, look at your wrist. You do not see the arteries that are carrying the oxygenated blood from your heart, you only see the veins that carry the oxygen depleted blood back to your heart. The blue thread should remind us of where our source of Life begins and ends, remains and has fulfillment. While we are sent out, we must always return. The closer we are to the Heart of YHVH the closer we are to Him! The blue tells us that we all should be pointing to Messiah and leading others to the Source of Life, also. This is the neceisty of our lives, to be drawn back to Yeshua for more of Him.

The Garment was a symbol of who wore it. In Biblical times, the garment or begged in Hebrew, was trimmed at the bottom with ornate designs. It was equivelant to our hems, but fancy and meaningful. The embroidery would tell of their family and history. It would elaborate on the person's socail status (richer folks had nicer borders on their clothing). To add a fringe to this was not something out of the ordinary, nor would it have seemed hard or weird. It would have added to what was already being done in that time. We see some of this in the semetic Arab tribes where Bedoins women wear more ornate garments, especially for weddings.

The four corners...well that is full of significance and symbolism. YHVH is great at telling us what is about to happen if we will listen. He knew that Israel would be scattered to the four corners of the earth. North, South, East and West. He knew that we would need to be reminded to see the Covenant and then walk in it. He knew that we could not get away with only three or two or one. After all, all of Israel is to be saved. We are reminded to interceed for those in dispora and to call them back to the land of their heart. The truest land, is first Messiah and then Israel. Yet, we are so closely tied to the land. The Covenant was made with Abraham for the sake of his son and the nations along with the land that would be their inheretance. Yehsua's blood was spilled on the land. The land must be redeemed. The four corners of the earth are important as we must remember not to defile the land as we abide in it.

More personally, the land is part of who we are and we are part of the land. We are those very rocks that have been raised up to cry out YHVH, Elohim! As land, the first Adam was created from dust. Eve was created from man. Both were cursed, as we, to return to the dust. The tzit-tzit are clearly present on the male and female forms. It does not take much imagination to figure these out. When Adam and Eve were naked, they looked upon the Covenant and were seeing the natural tzit-tzit/tassels that each of us carry. When man sinned, these were covered with Begged/garments. We are commanded to place the reminders on the four corners so that we can see where we came from, how we fell and where we are going within this Covenant. On the Garment, they hang from earthly gotten materials, and on earthen vessels. Each on four corners, which also depict what we can see still among others. Yehsua's arms and legs for His use to teach, serve and obey and love.
That's probably about the most comprehensive exposition of what the tzit-tzit represent that I have ever read. The four-cornered garments should be very significant to dancers that receive this revelation. This idea can certainly be incorporated in our dance garment designs to speak the messages of the tallit in another layer of visual symbolism.

It also kind of gives new meaning to thinking of the those involved in the worship arts as "fringe" people. Big Grin