One of the lesser-known commandments that we find in the Torah is the command to wear tassels (called tzitzit in Hebrew) attached to the corners of our garments.
This commandment may seem peculiar to some.
But this actually fits quite well with Elohim’s instructions to be His set-apart people.
Not only set apart in our behavior but apparently also set apart in our appearance…
So what does the Torah say about tzitzit?
The commandment to place tzitzit on our garments is first found in the Torah in Deuteronomy 22:
You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you cover yourself.
This commandment to wear tzitzit is repeated in the Torah in Numbers chapter 15 but this time with much more information.
Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tassel of each corner. And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God.
From the section above, we now have a more detailed explanation as to how this commandment should be carried out as well as its true purpose.
So let’s take a closer look…
The strings that make up the tzitzit usually come in either wool or cotton.
And each tassel is typically made up of 4 long strings that are folded in half and tied. This folding in half turns the 4 long strings into 8 shorter strings.
There are many styles and traditions in tying tzitzit all of which have some deeper meaning behind them.
I personally prefer to tie my own in the Sephardic tradition which uses a 10-5-6-5 pattern which is the numerical representation of Elohim’s holy name.
Here is a video (not mine) showing how a guy ties his tzitzit.
On the corners of the garment
In this instruction, we can see that to follow this commandment properly, we need to be wearing a garment that has 4 corners.
There are essentially two ways to accomplish this in our daily life without affecting our dress code too radically…
The most common way is to wear a Tallit Katan underneath your shirt.
Besides the fact that tallit katans usually don’t fit well and often hang below the top shirt, the real problem I have with this option is that the tzitzit is tied onto the garment and cannot be removed when doing laundry.
And washing the tzitzit in the washing machine causes them to bunch up and curl… Not a good look.
My preferred method for attaching tzitzit is to take a plain white undershirt and cut two 3-inch side vents on both sides of the t-shirt, creating the 4 corners that we need.
I then attach the tzitzit to each of those 4 corners using buttons.
This allows me to unbutton and remove the tzitzit before washing the undershirts which solves the curling and bunching problem.
Undershirts are cheap and so are buttons so you can make as many of these shirts as you need.
So you’ll always have one that is clean and ready to go.
Important Note: If you’re using tzitzit made out of wool, ensure that neither the t-shirt nor the thread used to sew on the button is made from linen. This mixture of material is forbidden (see my article on that topic).
Put a cord of blue on each tassel
In the original Hebrew, we are told to place a “p’til tekhelet” on each tassel.
The word p’til here is a singular noun. So we are in fact talking about a single blue thread placed among other threads that make up each tassel.
But anyone who’s ever seen the tzitzit that Jewish people wear has probably noticed that the strings are all white and do not include this required blue thread.
This is largely due to the fact that the method for producing the blue that was used in ancient Israel had been lost with time.
And many believe (myself included) that the Hebrew word that is translated to blue in the English translation (tekhelet) does not represent just any blue but rather a specific shade of blue.
As a similar example, we can look at a color such as maroon. While all maroon is red, not all red is maroon.
In the same way, many believe that while all tekhelet is blue, not all blue is tekhelet.
With that said, a particular sea animal has been discovered which many believe is the source of the dye used to make tekhelet.
And there is a great deal of evidence that backs up these claims. You can learn more about that here on Wikipedia.
To my knowledge, there is only one manufacturer in the world that produces tzitzit from this newly rediscovered color which is the Ptil Tekhelet Organization.
Personally, I ordered my Ptil Tekhelet brand tzitzit online from Ben’s Tallit Shop located in Israel.
I’m in no way affiliated with either Ptil Tekhelet or Ben’s Tallit Shop.
Remember all of Elohim’s commandments…And do them
Here Elohim reveals the true purpose of the tzitzit: To serve as a reminder to follow His commandments and to do them.
One might be tempted to tuck the tassels into their pants or into their pockets to avoid them being seen by others.
But from Elohim’s instructions, we can see that our tzitzit are meant to be seen, at least by us.
Yes, Yeshua wore tzitzit
We all know that Yeshua kept the Torah perfectly.
So it’s no surprise to find that Yeshua himself wore tzitzit.
In the record of the woman with a chronic discharge of blood, Luke’s gospel tells us:
She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased.
From this, we can see that not only did Yeshua wear the tzitzit, but He wore them in public exposed to the point where others could reach out and touch them.
But keep in mind that Yeshua called out the teachers and the Pharisees for wearing their tassels too long so keep that in mind when choosing a length:
They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long…
It’s easy for some to dismiss commandments such as wearing tzitzit as ritualistic and unnecessary.
But taking such an approach ignores Yeshua’s words that “We shall not live by bread alone. But by every word that comes out of the mouth of Elohim”.
So Christians who wish to live by Elohim’s every word and follow Yeshua in all things must put on their tzitzits. If for no other reason, because Elohim said so.
So let them act as a reminder that Elohim’s commandments are with us.
And that these commandments should be serving as a guide for our lives each and every day.