Tassels on the Four Corners

“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by chasing after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God” (Numbers 15:38-40).

The tassels on the four corners of the garment are called tzizit.  They were commanded by God so the Israelites would have something physical to remember His commandments.  He didn’t want His people committing spiritual adultery and allowing the lust of their eyes to affect their hearts.

There is some controversy today about whether a gentile should wear tzizit, and even women. According to the Hebrew rendering of Israelites, it is composed of two Hebrew words ben and Israel.  Ben is Hebrew for ‘son’ and includes men, grandsons, and nephews and is not a general rendering of all people of Israel inclusive of women.   Israel is Israel.  Thus, Israelites can be translated to ‘sons of Israel’ with its specific focus on men.

 I believe  tzizitot (plural) still have a valid place today in the commonwealth of Israel even though the commandments are now written on our hearts by the Spirit of God.   This doesn’t nullify the command necessarily, but the ‘sons of Israel’ had a difficult time obeying the commandments when they were wearing tziztiot.  It may be that it is easier to wear the tassels on the outside of our clothing than actually obey the commandments from inside our hearts.  

As for wearing them a non-Jewish woman,  I do not.  I do not think I could give a good reasoned answer for doing so if I was approached by a Jewish man or woman on the street in Jerusalem or anywhere else in the world.   From the rendering of Israelite, I believe the command was for men as they struggle more with lust of the eyes than a woman.  Yeshua took lust of the eyes into the sin of adultery when he was speaking directly to men.  Though they were wearing tziziot, they were still lusting in their hearts.

Men and women were created very differently and being one in Messiah doesn’t change that.   Just as a man doesn’t have a monthly cycle or need a time of purification after childbirth, a woman doesn’t have a beard or nocturnal emissions.  Though we are ‘all one in Messiah’, there are still and should be Jew and gentile differences as their are male and female.  These differences in unity of worship is the witness of two to the world for the the Body of Messiah.

When non-Jewish men or women are born again, they join the Kingdom of heaven.  They enter into fellowship with the Father and learn to keep the Sabbath, celebrate the Feasts, and eat according to Scriptural dietary laws.  They join the commonwealth of Israel where God’s commands govern behavior, yet there are also physical differences which continue to set apart men from women (short hair and long hair) and Jews (talit) from non-Jews.

Our family has attended orthodox Jewish synagogues and I would rather discuss Yeshua than my tzizit.  I would rather explain that I am part of the promised new covenant and the commandments are written on my heart than try to rationalize my wearing tzizit.   It was more than enough that I am a gentile who keeps the Sabbath, celebrates the Feasts and eats kosher when discussing Messiah Yeshua with Jewish people at the Western Wall.   Though we have the freedom and privilege to embrace tzizit, there is also a difference between making someone envious for faith in Messiah and outright offending them to their face.  We must not forget that Yeshua said that if there has been an offense, we are to leave our gift at the altar and make amends.  It is not my desire to willfully offend one of God’s chosen people.

To the gentiles Paul said, ‘we are remain in the condition we were called’ meaning that gentiles are not to try to be something we’re not.   I do not have to convert to Judaism to express my  faith in Yeshua nor do I have to obey commandments for the ‘sons of Israel’ when I am a daughter.   For awhile I did wear tzizit and I tied them on my purse until I was convicted about where they were to be.  As far as belt loops, I wonder what Jewish men think about that.   Are we as gentiles, men or women if that’s your conviction, willing to be respectful to the chosen people of God and wear them on the four corners of a talit katan under your clothing?

As we as non-Jews join the community of Israel, we need to be respectful that the community existed long before we entered it.  There have been hundreds of years of study and midrash long before we came into the faith of our father Abraham, who did not wear tzizit.  Each of us needs to reason out the Scripture for the tzizit and put it in our lives the way the Spirit convicts.  For some, the outward sign will be an added testimony to their faith in Messiah and God’s commandments, for others the inward circumcision of the heart is all they need.  Either way, we should not stand in judgement and allow one another to walk as the Spirit leads.

©2015 Tent Stake Ministries

Leave a Reply