Number 15:37-41 NKJV Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God."
God instructed the Israelites to attach fringes (called tzitzit in Hebrew) to each of the four corners of their garments so that when they saw them, they would remember all of Gods commandments and do them (Numbers 15:38-40; Deuteronomy 22:12). Centuries later when fashions changed and garments no longer had four corners, the Jewish people created the prayer shawl (Tallit) so that they could fulfill Gods command to wear tzitzit. The prayer shawl has become the time-honored Jewish tradition of submission to Gods will revealed in his Word (the Torah).
There are five knots in the fringes, symbolizing the five books of the law or torah. One of the threads is blue or tekhelet which is commanded in Numbers and perhaps symbolizes sapphire which some rabbis say was the stone upon which the ten commandments were engraved. The tallit, worn by a man throughout his life, is buried with him after one of the four fringes (tzitziot) is torn off so as to render the tallit invalid. The deceased can no longer fulfill this commandment and the tallit reflects this reality. The headband or crown is also removed for it has served its funtion and must now be retired.
A Jewish couple is married underneath a chuppah, which is sometimes two tallitot sewn together. A bride traditionally presents the groom with a tallit. A man will cover himself and his wife with his tallit in prayer. I am reminded of Song of Solomon 2:4 NKJV, He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love. What a beautiful picture of protection and covering for the wife!
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