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  Tsiyon News

Tsiyon Messianic Radio Newsletter  - Vol 8.09 -  12/21/6012 TAM  -  03/03/13 AD

Eliyahu ben David Bet Midrash

Victory Over Death

Genesis 23

On the road to Tsiyon Hidden in Plain Sight Focus on Israel Tsiyon Reading Room Criggarious

  Victory Over Death

The Empty Tomb"Sarah died in Kiriath Arba, in the land of Canaan. Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her." Gen 23:2

"I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see Elohim; Whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes will see and not another." Job 19:25-27

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Tsiyon Q + A

Listener Question - What about tzitzit?

Q. I love your program, but I was surprised by a recent comment in the Midrash that seemed to be against tzitzit. Isn't wearing tzitzit a Torah commandment?

A. I think a number of folks may not of fully grasped the point of that brief comment about tzitzit, but I assure you, no disrespect was meant toward the Torah. Here is the entirety of what the Torah says on this topic.

Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. 39 It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of YHWH, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, 40 so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your Elohim. Bamidbar/Numbers 15:38-40

"You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself."
Devarim/Deut 22:12

When we compare these verses we find they do indeed command the use of tassels in a particular way. These tassels, sometimes also called "fringes" are translated from the Hebrew word tsiytsith (H6734), or tzitzit. YHWH told the Israelites that these are specifically to adorn "the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself." Notice that this is a specific garment that has four corners, and does not apply to other types of garments. The commandment does not command that this sort of garment must be worn, or that tzitzit must be worn on all types of garments.

In the Rabbinic tradition, this sort of four-cornered garment is called a tallit. The Jewish Encyclopedia tells us more about this traditional Jewish garment. 

Mantle with fringes (zizit) at the four corners; a prayer-shawl worn over the garments, and used by men after marriage and, in modern times, by boys after their confirmation as "bar mizwot." The tallit, which can be spread out like a sheet, is woven of wool or silk, in white, with black or blue stripes at the ends. The silk ones vary in size, for men, from about 36 54 inches to 72 96 inches. The woolen tallit is proportionately larger (sometimes reaching to the ankle) and is made of two lengths sewed together, the stitching being covered with a narrow silk ribbon. A ribbon, or, for the wealthy, a band artistically woven with silver or gold threads (called "spania"), with the ends hanging, and about 24 inches long by from 2 to 6 inches wide, is sewed on the top of the tallit. From the four corners of the tallit hang zizit, in compliance with the Mosaic law.

This same article also makes this comment about the origin of the tallit.

The original tallit probably resembled the "'abayah," or blanket, worn by the Bedouins for protection from sun and rain.

What we glean from this is that the original garment spoken about in the Torah was not a garment especial made for religious use. Rather, the commandment was directed towards a utilitarian garment generally in use by men in ancient times, much like a blanket, "for protection from sun and rain." The tzitzit on this common four-corner garment was thus intended to be a frequent reminder of the commandments of YHWH in the course of the Israelite's ordinary day. In other words, this is about bringing YHWH into ones life throughout an ordinary day. This is NOT a garment intended for some special religious use. However, by the time of Y'shua Messiah this commandment was perverted by some into a religious object through which one could put their religiosity on display. Y'shua took note of this, saying regarding the religious leaders of His day:

But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their tefillin broad, enlarge the fringes (tzitzit) of their garments, and love the place of honor at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, the salutations in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi, Rabbi’ by men. Mat 23:5-7

The point is, tzitzit were never meant for the purpose of putting on a religious show, and that perversion of Torah was rightly condemned by Messiah.

So, what about us? Must we wear tzitzit? Nobody I know wears the original blanket-like garment of Bible times throughout the day, which this commandment is aimed at. Neither are we required to wear such a garment. I suppose you can assume you should wear tzitzit on your business suit or your blue jeans, or whatever, but if you do, that is your choice - not what the Torah actually commands. Remember too, this commandment is not about putting on a religious show, which affixing and wearing tzitzit where not commanded may very well be. Of course, each person must follow his conscience, so it is not for me to judge anyone that may feel compelled to wear tzitzit on their modern clothing.

Personally, I don't see the commandment as requiring that, while I do see wearing a purely traditional religious garment as out of step with the real purpose of the commandment, in keeping with Messiah's words above. So as for me, I have no occasion in my life as it now stands wherein wearing tzitzit is required. I also don't need to invent a substitute for such a command as a memory device, because Torah is now written in our hearts. YHWH Himself is literally with me all the time, and His Spirit is faithful to remind me of His commandments as often as I have the need. In truth, the "cord of blue" of the tzitzit was prophetic of that very Holy Spirit which is now always resident within Messiah's talmidim (the "sod" level of this commandment, if you will) fulfilling this very commandment. Finally, I don't have a need to wear traditional Jewish garments to feel or appear more "Jewish" because I am Jewish on the inside, and nothing I wear or don't wear on the outside is ever going to change that. Shalom!

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From Eliyahu

It is not surprising that we find many firsts in Genesis. That continues in our latest midrash. Here we consider the death of Sarah and details of how Abraham dealt with it. Since death touches us all, this brings up the larger question of what death means in the lives of each of us. While that may sound like a dark topic, quite the opposite is true. There is a bright future for every person who dies in Messiah. You will thrill to this uplifting truth as we consider what the Scriptures tell us about death - and victory beyond the grave!


Eliyahu ben David 

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