Tzitzit, Tefillin, and the Talmud


Preparing for the End of Time

IAUA End Time Ministry

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Shortly after I began studying the statutes as a source of God's commands for His people, I learned the truth about the tzitzit. The statute is given in two places.
37 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
38 Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue:
39 And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them ; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:
40 That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.
41 I am the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God.
Numbers 15:37-41
12 Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself.
Deuteronomy 22:12

I was under immediate conviction of the validity and importance of this statute. God has provided His perfect way to show our religious devotion. We are to look upon the tzitzit and remember His law.

This statute is still not honored by most who believe in the statutes. It is interesting you do not even find this mentioned in most discussions or books about the statutes. I suspect traces of anti-Semitism still exist.

The word translated as fringes in Numbers is tsiytsith.

fringe, tassel, lock

Strong's Hebrew Dictionary #06734

The word translated as ribband in Numbers is pathiyl.

cord, thread (twisted)

Strong's Hebrew Dictionary #06616

The word translated as fringes in Deuteronomy is gĕdil.

twisted threads, tassels

Strong's Hebrew Dictionary #01434

The translation of border or hem from the Greek is kraspedon.

1) the extremity or prominent part of a thing, edge, skirt, margin

a) the fringe of a garment

b) in the NT a little appendage hanging down from the edge of the mantle or cloak, made of twisted wool

c) a tassel, tuft: the Jews had such appendages attached to their mantles to remind them of the law

Strong's Hebrew Dictionary #2899

I prefer to refer to my tzitzit simply as tassels. I do not find any value in emphasizing the use of Hebrew words when there are appropriate English equivalents.

The New Testament clearly indicates the Messiah obeyed all of Moses law and wore the tassels.

20 And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment:
Matthew 9:20
36 And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.
Matthew 14:36
56 And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.
Mark 6:56
44 Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.
Luke 8:44

The Messiah spoke against the practice of making the tassels long.

5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
Matthew 23:5

Personal Practice

I adopted the wearing of tassels on September 2, 2004. Some may label me fanatic or weird. I am not ashamed to follow the law of God.

38 Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.
Mark 8:38
41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
Acts 5:41
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Romans 1:16

A Showy Traditional Long Tzitzit There are many extensive and varied Jewish traditions for the tzitzit. I am not interested in following the traditions of men, but it is valuable to be aware of them. I initially made a simple adaptation of the traditions in my own practice. I later simplified the tassel even more and made it shorter after carefully considering the criticism of Matthew 23:5 concerning making the tassels long to be seen of men.

I take four pieces of white yarn (lamb's wool is the symbolic ideal but almost impossible to find) and one of royal blue yarn about 14 inches long each. I knot them together in the middle, fold it in half, and knot them all together again. This makes about a 2 inch loop with ten 3-4 inch strings hanging from it. These ten strings symbolize the Ten Commandments to me. The two royal blue threads symbolize the two great laws on which the Ten Commandments are based.

It is important to pull tightly on each individual string to keep the knots from being excessively big. I don't worry about trying to make the ends line up or cut them off to length. I like the raw look of uneven strings instead of making it look polished and precise. I then tie little knots in the ten ends so they do not unravel. I find this to be the hardest part of the process.

I made a little device from a 16 inch piece of wood with two little finishing nails close together an inch from each end (four total). I make the knots around the nails to get the length correct. After forming all the knots on a long strand, I pull the knots off the nails and pull them tight before I cut it into strands between the knots.

I make four of them as the Bible says. I loop the top of the tassel through my belt loops. One on each side and the others quarter way around to the front. This is a simple adaptation of the four corners of the garment for modern clothing styles. They are easily transferred when I put on a clean pair of pants. If I wear something without a belt, I use a safety pin to attach the tassels.

I do not believe there is anything special about making them any particular way. As long as it looks something like a tassel, it meets God's specification.

An example of a showy traditional long tzitzit can be seen on the website. There is a full-color life-size picture of a completed tassel on the website so you can visualize what I am describing. There is a picture of me wearing my modest short tassels on the back of the book so you can see how they look. The tassels in the logo on the cover give you an idea of what they look like.

Here is a life-size picture of a completed tassel so you can visualize what I am describing.

Short Tassel

Here is a picture of my modest short tassels so you can see how they look.

My Modest Short Tassels

There is a dispute about the proper shade of blue to be used in the tassel. Those Jewish people who practice the wearing of the "blue" thread in the tassel usually wear navy blue or black. This symbolizes for them their mourning for the loss of the temple. I use the blue symbolized by the Bible, which is compared to lapus lazuli and other references. I suspect even the name royal blue refers back to the King of Kings.

I suspect even the tradition of tying a string on your finger to remember refers back through tradition to the tassel on the garment to remember.

Some do not believe this statute applies to women. The Bible does not say it is only for men. Each person must make their own decision about following the command of God.

Practice Opposition

One of the superfluous objections to following the practice of wearing the tassels is claiming it was only for the Jews.

7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
Galatians 3:7
29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:29
4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
Revelation 7:4

Opposition even comes from individuals who believe in the keeping of the statutes. They point out a solitary quote from Ellen White, which appears to dismiss the statute.

The children of Israel, after they were brought out of Egypt, were commanded to have a simple ribbon of blue in the border of their garments, to distinguish them from the nations around them, and to signify that they were God's peculiar people. The people of God are not now required to have a special mark placed upon their garments. But in the New Testament we are often referred to ancient Israel for examples. If God gave such definite directions to his ancient people in regard to their dress, will not the dress of his people in this age come under his notice? Should there not be in their dress a distinction from that of the world? Should not the people of God, who are his peculiar treasure, seek even in their dress to glorify God? And should they not be examples in point of dress, and by their simple style rebuke the pride, vanity, and extravagance of worldly, pleasure-loving professors? God requires this of his people. Pride is rebuked in his word. {HR, February 1, 1872 par. 4}

I believe it is obvious from the context Ellen is not intending to pronounce a teaching on statute keeping or the particular statute. My reading sees a curious contradiction with her statement, which points to following the examples of Israel. My view is, Ellen was a prophet of the Three Angels' Message, which made great strides in presenting the seventh day Sabbath, and other messages to the world. It is not appropriate to try to extract explicit teachings concerning the statutes of the Third Elijah Message or the Fourth Angel's Message from her work.

Appearance Issues

There are many general issues of appearance beyond wearing the tassels. Since I began wearing the tassels, I have been made increasingly aware there are many who are highly opposed to anything Jewish. The reaction I have faced to the observance of Passover and the yearly Sabbaths is nothing compared to the reaction toward the wearing of the tassels.

Those who believe in the observance of the yearly Sabbaths have reacted the most negatively. It looks like they will accept something they can do privately, but not something, which publicly marks them as believers. A person, who chooses to follow all the statutes, including the wearing of the tassels, attracts the focus of many critics. Even the most devoted followers and teachers of the Third Elijah Message have warned me of the danger of prejudice against the truth of the message caused by the wearing of the tassels.

I can almost hear Satan cackle to himself. "The Sunday-keepers ignore just one little commandment". "The feast-keepers ignore just one little statute". How does the Messiah feel when we choose to dismiss one of His requirements? Unfortunately, this is not the only little requirement people ignore.

Remember! Keeping the law of the Messiah does not save you. Belief in the Messiah saves you. Ignoring the law of the Messiah means you do not practice what you believe.

The Messiah was an Israelite. The Messiah observed and obeyed all scripture. He was our perfect example.

21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
I Peter 2:21
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
John 13:15
Did the Messiah command something, which is too difficult?
48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:48

Beards, Shaving, Tattoos, and Piercings

I have not been outspoken on the issue of beards on men. I prefer to witness by example and concentrate on other issues of obedience, which need to be addressed first. It is easy to become judgmental, and unnecessarily critical on this and other issues. I struggle to share truth in love. Sometimes what I say may sound harsh but I pray you may sense a spirit, which is learning to be gentle under the molding of the Holy Spirit.

Let us examine some of the specific statutes in question.

27 Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
28 Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19:27-28
5 They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh.
Leviticus 21:5
1 Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead.
Deuteronomy 14:1
In all the presentations of the statutes I have heard it is interesting I have never heard mention of the beard as well as the tassels. It seems some will follow God enough to accept the private practice of the yearly Sabbaths but to change our daily appearance is asking too much.

There is general agreement on avoiding tattoos and piercings, but I believe it needs to refer to specific Biblical guidance for proper support. It is easy to make the excuse this statute does not apply today. There is the implication this is only wrong when done "for the dead".

Each person must seek God's guidance in their own heart and in their own lives on this subject. This my personal witness to my own understanding of applying the principles of God to my appearance. I am not telling you what you should do. I do encourage you to study all the guidance God has provided for us in His word and seek His guidance on what He expects from you.

It is appropriate to trim, comb, and arrange the hair/beard for neatness and attractiveness. Excessively long hair on men or excessively short hair on women is against the natural distinction of the sexes as created by God. Paul gave some difficult teachings in this chapter but here is a statement to consider.

14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.
I Corinthians 11:14-15
Shaving, plucking, or coloring the hair is also an extreme and is telling God you do not approve of how He made you and you know better. These practices are also at the basis of applying makeup and chemicals on the skin to alter appearance as well as the extreme of cosmetic surgery. It is true, sin has marred our bodies, but our true need is a pure heart not perfect-looking skin.
7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.
I Samuel 16:7

Adornment and Display

We need to look beyond just obedience to God's guidance in His Law. We need to consider the principles in His guidance. A principle behind these statutes is the defiling of the image of God as created in man and women. An excessive altering of the appearance for purposes of adornment or display is a denial of the natural beauty as created by God. Excessive concern with our outward appearance becomes a god of our idolatry. Those who believe in evolution see no problem with this because they deny God, the perfection of His plan, or His specific purposes in His creation.

The result of sin means we must wear clothes. There are many verses describing the principles of modesty.

26 Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon.
Exodus 20:26

Simple and modest dress in gender specific and appropriate clothing is to be desired rather than elaborate and costly dress to attract attention to the appearance.

Have you ever pondered why women are criticized for wearing a necklace but men will adorn themselves with ties?

15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.
Luke 16:15

I have never understood the purpose of putting a thin showy jacket over a shirt when it is not even cold. Is this adornment or utility? When I was a child, I followed the customs I was taught but I always wondered about this. When I became mature and thought carefully about these practices, I put away childish things.

I do not wear showy or expensive silver or gold watches or watch bands. I do not usually wear a watch at all, but if I did, it would be simple and inexpensive such as with a leather or plastic strap. Even better, I would just put it in my pocket. Why does it need to be displayed at all?

I desire for my appearance to testify of my belief in God as the Creator and a simple acceptance of the way He made me.

Jewish Tradition

Closely associated with the Tzitzit in Jewish practice are the Kippah, Tefillin and the Mezuzah. I have received comments inquiring and joking about my adopting those practices. It is important to note, these practices are not statutes. These practices are part of the "oral" tradition of the Mishnah and the Talmud. The wearing of the Kippah was apparently not even adopted until about the 2nd century.

I am a student, follower, and teacher of God's Law. I am an Israelite and a Hebrew by practice and belief. I am not Jewish which I define as a mixture of religion and cultural tradition. I do not promote Judaism as a religion. I am not a Messianic, which is a confused mixture of Jewish tradition, Judaism, and Christian religion. I do not wear a kippah because it is a Jewish tradition. I do wear tassels because they are a command of God.

19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:19
It is my desire to practice a primitive godliness from the Bible without the burden of cultural baggage.

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Revised 2015-08-21