#18. Fringes (Tzitzit) on Garment Corners.
To reject any part of the Law is not only against what God and Jesus have in mind for you, it also emboldens your enemies. For when you grumble, the opportunistic atheist and anti-theist seize upon this as a moment to further erode your confidence in commandments. Why? They have an agenda, whether to eliminate limits on sexuality or to erect a satanic monument in the public square. You may think, quite arrogantly, that such an agenda will never succeed, but the Bible tells us otherwise.
The pagans have historically subsumed Israel and the Jews over and over again. Not only that, but also the Book of Revelation makes it plain that the world shall careen forward into a time when people will easily, even gladly, take the Mark of the Beast. Why would the population agree to such a thing? Basically (it is written), just so they can continue buying and selling. Just so life goes on uninterrupted. Basic psychology - the hand that giveth can be the hand that taketh away, and thus the people will acquiesce in order that the hand does not taketh away.
Mass disobedience against God's Law is therefore to be expected, not only at the individual level, not only at the church level, not only at the national level, but also at the global level. For when our enemies run our military, our educational institutions, our government, our police, our farms, our water supply, our electricity, and so forth, we are at their mercy. That time is now.
We are surrounded by atheists, caliphate Muslims, communist radicals, corrupt men and women, criminals of every stripe, and blind hedonists. They are everywhere, mocking, teaching against, and legislating to blunt, our Law of God. Torah, that is, true Judeo-Christianity, in a war for survival.
No buts about it, this is our fault. In the name of compassion, civility, even religion, we let our enemies have a small slice of our pie. Once they tasted this weakness, they grew bolder day by day, taking chances by challenging our beliefs, and securing beachheads won. Because we believed we were blessed, we believed God would bless our sharing. And because we believed we were special, we believed God would stop any evil perpetrated on us. But why would God bless or stop that evil which we allowed to infiltrate and rule over us? Did we not choose it?
For pleasure, you chose it. To taste and to feel, and not deny yourself anything.
To avoid pain, you chose it. To escape the hard work of obedience. To evade finger-pointing by your enemies.
Worse still, you chose it to avoid embarrassment. You did not want to be noticed as one separated. You did not want to be singled out for mocking. You wanted to be accepted, not rejected. You wanted to be liked.
You made the reason that if you were to visibly separate yourself, whether by the foods you eat or the clothes you wear, or any other thing, you would appear clannish or aloof. This, you said, reflected badly on the religion which ought to be viewed as accepting and loving, to win more converts. You were wrong. For the Law commands you to appear clannish and aloof to outsiders. God intended you to appear clannish and aloof to outsiders. Jesus was clannish and aloof to outsiders, especially when He told His disciples not to go to the Gentiles or Samaritans but only to the children of Israel.
Today’s commandment, to wear fringes (tzitzit) on garment corners, is a sign to the world that you are of Torah. When you wear these fringes, you will appear clannish and aloof. You might even be subject to rejection or mocking. In some places, you might be attacked for being or acting like a Jew.
There is a minimum obedience to this commandment.
First, you must decide what constitutes a "garment." Is it a shirt or is it the traditional tallit worn by Jews worldwide? Is it both? Who decided that? Do pants constitute a garment? How about shoes?
Second, you must decide what constitutes a "corner." The translation is actually "border." Is a corner the only type of border permitted, or is the hem of a garment also a border? Is it both? Who decided that? Was the hem of Christ's garment this commanded border? Did Christ's border have extra power? If so, what was that power? Can the cuff of a pair of pants, or the entry to a pair of shoes, be considered a border?
Third, you must decide what constitutes a "fringe." Is it something added, or is it something built into the garment when manufactured? Is it necessary to have a certain number of fringes? Must the fringes be twisted? Who decided that? Is the "ribband of blue" a separate fringe, or can it be an actual ribbon or some other object? Does it fulfill the commandment to wear fringes on pants cuffs, or on a pair of suede boots?
We know Christ fulfilled Torah Law, and He advised all to do and teach every commandment. Since this is true, Jesus definitely wore a garment with a hem, on which were fringes, of which one was blue.
Fourth, you must decide when to wear the garment? Shall you wear it only to morning prayers, or all day? Shall you change from a tallit during morning prayers to a "tallit katan" (little tallit) for the rest of the day? Where is any of this commanded?
What is the purpose of the commandment? "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: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God" (Numbers 15:39-40). The purpose of the commandment is to remember to do the commandments! Including this one!
To remember is between you and God. Only God knows if you have remembered, and only you know if you feel as if you have remembered. It is debatable therefore whether it is necessary for the rest of the congregation, or the rest of the world, to know that you remember.
Conversely, if your commanded garment is visible, perhaps it will remind a fellow to wear his commanded garment, whether it was left behind accidentally or deliberately.
Finally, you must decide whether or not you wish to fit in. Most Jews believe that wearing a tallit with 613 fringes and a blue stripe fulfills the commandment. Do you wish to fight against Jewish tradition and invent your own garment and/or habits for wearing it? Why? What points are you trying to make? Who are you trying to impress or provoke? Isn't it important to be accepted where you purport to be a member?The danger in discussing Torah obedience is in-fighting. It is easier to attack each other over small points rather than to attack the disobedient, even the blasphemous. This is because we know that fellow believers should be reasonable but disbelievers have no reason to be reasonable. For this reason, we should be more willing to find the minimal lawful level, at which we can say a Torah commandment has been fulfilled, rather push the maximum level to which we might believe a human being ought to attain. In other words, let us accept whoever does not teach against the commandment itself.
These thoughts, and much more about the tzitzit, in today’s lesson. Come listen!
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