Hello there,

Long time no write eh?  Sorry about that but being a grandma is a new adventure for me.  That and buying a house!
I recently read a post that asked if anyone had an extra talit.  I did so I responded.  After some time I asked if the recipient knew the story behind the hebrew prayer shawl.  The person I asked responded that she didn’t even know the story!  At that point my Braveheart line surfaced:

Well that’s something we shall have to remedy, isn’t it?

So here it goes while pointing to the image on the right which is a T.D.R quote that summarizes my feelings so well!
I remember being told once a time long ago that Yahweh picks each talit for us personally.  That in each talit there is a personal story written into the symbols used.  Looking at my own prayer shawl (talit) I found this to be incredibly true! Not hard for a God as big as He is, not really!
So let’s start with the atarah, or collar.  In today’s age the Jewish blessing is embroidered in hebrew on the atarah.

 

“Baruch Ata Ado-noi
Elo-heiynu Melech ha’olam,
asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav
v’tzivanu l’hitatef batzitzit”

which means

“Blessed are You L-rd,
our G-d, King of the universe,
Who made us holy with His commandments
and commanded us to wrap ourselves in a tallit.”

Right off any decent bible scholar can see two teeny tiny issues with that last little line!
Let’s look a little closer at both of them!
  1. Who made us holy with His commandments
  2. commanded us to wrap ourselves in a tallit
One:
The commands don’t make us holy! In fact it is written that our holiness is as filth before Him it’s so far off the mark!  If the commands (mitzvot) made us holy there would be no need for Jesus or for His blood atonement!  We would indeed be our own little gods capable of saving ourselves! (do we hear any humanism?)
Instead the commands are a way of cleaning us up enough to go to the temple and offer sacrifice before Him!  Last I checked none of us are kohen (priests) {in the literal world is what I am talking about!} and we don’t have a temple!
As a believer in Messiah, it is through His blood sacrifice that I am able to boldly enter into the Holy of Holies and have a relationship with the One who loves me most! Without Him there is no way I could enter my role as a priest and princess in His courts!  It is because of Him that I live and have the privilege of repentance and acceptance as His child!
Two:
Nowhere in the T’nak (bible) does He command us to wrap up in prayer shawls!  He instead commands that we make tassels and attach them to the corners of our garments!!

Num 15:38  “Speak to the children of Yisra’ěl, and you shall say to them to make tzitzit/tasselsb on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue cord in the tzitzitb of the corners.

Num 15:39 “And it shall be to you for a tzitzitb, and you shall see it, and shall remember all the commands of יהוה and shall do them, and not search after your own heart and your own eyes after which you went whoring,

Footnote: b           Numbers 15:38

fringes in the borders: The word tzitzith properly denotes an ornament resembling a flower. From Num_15:39, we learn that these were emblematical of the commands of God. That there is any analogy between a fringe and a precept, it would be bold to assert; but when a thing is appointed to represent another, no matter how different, that first object becomes the legitimate representative or sign of the other. Deu_22:12; Mat_9:20, Mat_23:5; Luk_8:44

My boys never had talit but my husband does.  After some consideration and prayer, he simply thanks Yah for the ability to wear his talit.  Whatever else he says to Him is none of my business! For the congregation my former rabbi (teacher/preacher) wrote up a blessing more in line with the bible’s command to not add or take away from His word!
“Blessed are You Lord,
our God, King of the universe,
Who has given us His commandments
and allows us to wear the talit.”
Now on to the stripes!
Why are they there?  Well there’s some debate on the reasoning for it!  So the first explanation I remember came from a very sweet rabbi I used to know many years ago!  It went something like this:

“…Yeshua (Jesus) was beaten for us and by His stripes we are healed.  The stripes on my talit remind me of this, but there should be more… (meaning that he was a repetitive sinner)”

So remember me saying

“…in each talit there is a personal story written into the symbols used…”

Let’s circle this bush by talking about my story written onto my talit! It’s silver and gold with roses all over on cream material.  I can’t stand white for the most part!  To difficult to keep clean!  Matter of fact; I have no idea how I was able to keep Navy whites clean enough to wear; I did; but the skill was lost long ago!  On the outside there are 13 visible stripes!  Thirteen the number of rebellion!  Yup!  You guessed it!  I was a rebel without a clue! Because I sew at times too I flipped it over to see what was under the sewn on strips!  I found more stripes, four more stripes in fact. Seventeen, the number of victory, hidden and unseen! Since a picture is worth a 1000 words, and Hebrew is a picture language, are you asking what the picture is?  I did to!  Remember the verse about the cup that was clean on the outside and filthy on the inside?  This was rebellion on the outside and victory within! How like the tax collector I am, or even the woman who washed His feet with her tears!
The roses? For me it is in the Song of Solomon.  The Rose of Sharon is indeed the Lover of my soul for I am my Beloved’s and He is my heart! It of course helps that as my gr’ma’s primary care person I was also her gardener and she LOVED roses! So they remind me of her!
This one has pomegranates embroidered onto it!  Traditionally it is taught that the fruit has 613 seeds which is the same number of commands in the T’nak or Old Testament. It also represents fruitfulness, knowledge, learning, and wisdom.  In the bible the pomegranate is listed as one of seven special grains and fruits of Israel.
Ok so enough of the encyclopedia!  Aaron’s priestly garments had blue and purple pomegranates on the hem with bells in between! (Exo 28:33&34)  What a pretty picture!
Now for the four corners!  These are known as ‘wings’ and they hold the tassels the children of Israel were commanded to make and wear.  It is written that He comes with healing in His wings and these are the wings spoken of.  As the talit is worn over the shoulder and down the arms this also paints and amazing picture for us!  Think about it!  If you are wearing a shawl or poncho what happens to it when you lift your arms!  That’s right it lifts up when
Under His Wings
the arms lift up! Now think of a bird!  How does a bird hug with wings instead of arms?  Like an eagle with wings outstretched over its young! His poetic artistry is awe inspiring isn’t it?
So on to the final part of my story, the tassel or tzitzit {Zeet zeet [like feet but with a z]}. Like them or not; the rabbis were crafty in their work!

Worked into the knots, wraps, and ties of the tzitzit are memorials for both the 613 mitzvot/commands, and the Tetragrammaton.  The Tetragrammaton is the hebrew name of God written in four letters, YHVH or yod hey vav hey, and pronounced Yahweh or Jehovah.  There are too many to go into serious technical detail but let’s briefly look at it!
On first glance it’s macramé like we did in the 70’s to make plant holders!  In the 80’s and 90’s they were key chains!  OMGoodness I think I just dated myself! So the loop is for attaching to the talit. Now the first knot which represents Genesis, the second Exodus and so on for each of the 5 book Moses wrote. The blue strand is called the techelet and in bible color language it represents Yeshua/Jesus.  Because it is used to hold the other strands together it is also called the shamash, or servant strand. So you tie a square knot and wrap the techelet around the other strands 7 times. Tie another square knot wrap 8 times and so on!  In the end the wraps make 7,8,11,13. In hebrew gematria (each letter is also a number) 7+8 is 15 which is yod hey, or the first two letters of the Tetragrammaton. 11 is equal to vav hey or the last two letter of YHVH.
So are you wondering about the 13?  That is equivalent to echad or one.  So in essence the wraps in the tzitzit say Yahweh Echad or Yahweh is one.
There are many other tradition and many other views on talits and tzitzit but these are the ones that hit home with me!