Hebrew Prayer shawl Hebrew Prayer Shawl
Hebrew man at prayer A Jewish man at prayer at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem
The Hebrew Prayer ShawlLessons from Tallit • Today we will consider the Hebrew prayer shawl which is worn by all religious Jews. • It usually consists of a white background with blue stripes at each vertical side. It is square in shape and edged with evenly tied knots of the threads down both sides of the garment.
Significance of tallit At the top of the shawl the smooth edge is embroidered with an Hebrew phrase forming its collar. At its four corners are four longer tassels, or fringes, tied with multiple knots. These are not haphazard decoration but have deep spiritual significance to the wearers of tallit.
The Hebrew Prayer ShawlLessons from Tallit • Whether we understand it or not, numbers play a large part in God’s word and plan. • The systematic study of numbers is called numerology. There is really much more to it than most people realize. • For example, the number “one” stands for unity. God is a unity. He has one Son. He has one plan. When a man marries a woman, the two become one.
The number two indicates opposites, or separation • The father of the Prodigal Son had another Son. They were separated by wisdom and foolishness. • There are two opposite moral states in scripture: lost and saved; sheep and goats. • There are two disparate ways of life: the strait and narrow way which leads to life, and the broad way which leads to destruction.
Eight is the number of resurrection and of immortality • The eighth millennium shall be the only one to contain ONLY immortal beings. • The number twelve is the fourth perfect number, and indicates governmental perfection. There are 12 apostles, 12 gates in the New Jerusalem, 12 thrones over the 12 tribes of Israel in the kingdom age.
Numbers are important They indicate distinct ideas or principles when used purposely. The garment I am wearing is an Hebrew Prayer Shawl. These unique garments are made by rabbinical students as a profession and are carefully crafted to have certain meanings. Indeed, God chose to reveal His name through the numerology of the prayer shawl. The corner knots reveal His name.
The Corner Knots … • Notice that the four corners are decorated with longer threads and with more knots than the remainder of the fringe. These longer fringes of this garment are identical and unique. • The names of God are recalled by the wearer utilizing the prayer shawl in the proper way. • Some of the names rendered by these knots are said to be …
The Names of God • Yahweh Jireh – Yahweh will see, or provide. • Yahweh Ropheka – Yahweh will heal thee. • Yahweh Nissi – Yahweh is my banner. • Yahweh Mekaddishkem - Yahweh Who shall sanctify you.
The Names of God Yahweh Shalom – Yahweh (send) peace. Yahweh Tz’vaoth – Yahweh of hosts. Yahweh Shammah – Yahweh is there.
The Corner Knots • These larger knots are called zizit (Hebrew plural is ziziyyot: fringes, or decoration). • They are mentioned in the prescription for the prayer shawl found in Numbers 15: 37-41. • “And Yahweh spake unto Moses, saying: ‘Speak unto the sons of Israel, and thou shalt say unto them, that they shall make them fringes on the corners of their garments, unto their generations.” So Jews wear them today!
Instructions for the Shawl • “And shall put upon the fringe of the corner, a cord of blue: so shall they serve you as fringes, and when ye see them, then shall ye call to mind all the commandments of Yahweh, and shall do them, and shall not spy out (after your own hearts, and after your
Instructions for the Shawl • “own eyes) for things after which ye are ready to go unchastely away: to the intent ye may call to mind, and DO all my commandments, and be ye holy unto your God. I – Yahweh – am your God, Who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to become your God; I – Yahweh – am your God.” -- Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible.
The BLUE cords at the corner • You noted that God had prescribed that BLUE ziziyyot were to be used at the corners. • Blue was originally specified by the Father; as it was the color of the daytime sky, it was thought to represent His “throne of glory.” • But this garment has WHITE cords. • Why? Due to a shortage of blue dye long ago, the Rabbinical authorities in the second century waived this impossible requirement.
Composition of the Ziziyyot • Each zizit consists of one long cord and three short cords, all of which are passed through an embroidered hole in the four corners of the garment, and then are folded so as to make eight threads. • These are then fastened with a double knot for security. • Then the long thread (the shammash) is wound around the other threads a specified number of times …
Composition of the Ziziyyot • These windings about the six other threads are , in number … • Seven times and double knotted, then • Eight times and double knotted, then • Eleven times and double knotted, then • Thirteen times and double knotted. • Thus the Zizit contains four various windings separated by distinctive knots.
Composition of the Ziziyyot • The ends of the longer thread is then sheared equal in length to the short threads. • The Zizit thus consists of FIVE double knots and EIGHT threads for a total of THIRTEEN units. This number, together with the Hebrew numerological value of the term “zizit” (which is 600) amounts to 613. This number represents the 613 separate commandments to be recognized by the Rabbis and the people, as in Numbers 15: 39.
But there is more • Also … consider these facts: • There are first SEVEN coils and EIGHT coils which total FIFTEEN coils. They reduce this number to TEN and FIVE … numbers which represent Yod (10) and He (5) in the alphabet. • Then there are ELEVEN coils made up of SIX loops and FIVE loops, which represent Vau (6) and He (5). • Yod, He, Vau, He = YHVH, YaHVeH adding the vowels, or as we say “Yahweh,” the holy tetragammaton!!
A Wonderful Mnemonic • Thus we see how the Jews have worked out the numbers to remind them of God’s NAME – whether this is what He intended or not! • In these facts we can discern just how God’s laws are delineated and His name revealed in the complexity of the prayer shawl. • Many of the 613 commandments discerned in the Law as details of the 10 Commandments later commented upon by Moses are said to be memorialized in the remaining knots of the shawl.
Proverbs 4:4 • Let thine heart retain My words, keep My commandments and live! • In another passage, Thy word have I written in my heart! • Jesus also wore a prayer shawl. But the deeply engraved Word of God in Jesus’ heart successfully withstood the enemy on the Mount of Temptation in the wilderness
Tallit as Prayer Tent • During the Exodus, Moses had perhaps two million people in his care. The Tabernacle of the Wilderness was about 15 x 45 feet in its outer dimensions. • But that structure was not used for ordinary group worship in any case. • Thus, the prayer shawl – tallit – became the single necessary and acceptable covering for every Jewish male as he approached God in prayer, in reading, and in meditation.
Description of Tallit • Almost all modern ones are white with BLUE stripes; many ancient ones had BLACK stripes. The upper portion of tallit which rests behind the neck and over the shoulders exhibits a special piece of cloth embroidered with silver threads called atarah (a diadem) to mark the upper edge (the collar) and the outer surface of the four-cornered garment. • Some talliyot have a benediction embroidered into that strip of cloth …
The Benediction of Tallit • What is that prayer?? • Its exact words are, “Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who hath sanctified us by Thy commandments, and hast commanded us to wrap ourselves in the fringed garment.”
The Ritual of Donning • When putting on the shawl, a Jewish man covers his head with this shawl as he utters this general praise and thanksgiving to his God. • When he raises it to place it on his head, he allows the four corners with their fringes to fall over his left shoulder. • After a brief pause, he arranges the four corners into their natural position suspended on each side.
Offering his Prayers • He then offers his prayers, reads Torah, or confesses his sins. The tallit is regarded as capturing and containing the light of the Divine Presence which descends upon him when he recites the priestly benediction. • But when he has even more intimate things to confess or pray about such as forgiveness of certain sins, he covers his head and face FULLY with the shawl.
Offering his Prayers • There are some things which need to be discussed between us and our God on a personal and intimate level. This is where it is done. It is as if he must not look upon the Father in his petitioning! • To be enfolded in it is regarded as being enveloped by the holiness of the commands of the Torah, denoting a symbolic subjection to the Divine will. Generally people pray today with tallit resting upon their shoulders only, as often observed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
In many communities the bride and groom are married beneath a “marriage tent” – a canopy made of a large tallit. It is supported by four tall poles.
In most, it is customary for the bridegroom to dress in tallit during huppah, the wedding ceremony.
Burial in tallit • Men are buried with tallit wrapped around their bodies over their burial clothing or shrouds. • Due to that custom there are few ancient copies of tallit available. • The minimum size for tallit is prescribed as large enough to enfold a small child.
Tallit as Prayer Closet • It is probable that when Jesus advised His followers to enter into their prayer closet for intensive communication with their Father, He may have been indicating that one should cover oneself with the prayer shawl as alternative to entering a small room for privacy.
Magen David and Tallit The Magen David (the Star of David) incorporated into the prayer shawl became the Israeli flag! The Star of David as well as the Menorah are ancient symbols of Israel and its People.
Tallit: Model for Magen David At the top and bottom borders are broad stripes of blue. Sometimes the stripes are broken into strips. Ancient stripes were sometimes black.
In the center is the Star of David in blue. As such it is one of the most widely known flags in the world today. The blue stripes represent that the God of Israel lives in the heavens; the Star of David is an ancient symbol of Israel.
Prophetic reference to Flag • In Isaiah 11: 12, “… He shall set up AN ENSIGN (Hebrew, nec, a flag) for the nations (meaning Israel and Judah), and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”
El Al’s Insignia: David’s Star • Reader’s Digest printed an article which told of mysterious beings thought to have been angels hovering about, gathering the Ethiopian Jews, the Falash Mura, together to board the aircraft of El Al to fly to Israel. • Each of the Boeing aircraft display a prominent blue Star of David. Operation Solomon of a few years ago brought thousands of Ethiopian Jews “home” to Israel.
David Wolffsohn, Flag Designer • As the movement toward Statehood progressed in the 19th century, much thought was given to a national flag. • The ensign of Israel was designed long before Israeli statehood. David Wolffsohn, in 1911, assistant to Theodor Herzl, drew its design for the Second Zionist Congress. • It has been used as the symbol of Zion ever since.
Wolffsohn’s Flag Design • As an ensign, or banner of identity, it has symbolized the people and the state as appropriately as any symbol could. The world recognizes it and the Jews rally to it. His original design may have been prompted by this poem…
Frankl’s “Judah’s Colors” "Judah's Colors” • When sublime feelings his heart fill,He is mantled in the colors of his countryHe stands in prayer, wrappedIn a sparkling robe of white. • The hems of the white robeAre crowned with broad stripes of blue;Like the robe of the High Priest,Adorned with bands of blue threads. • These are the colors of the beloved country, Blue and white are the borders of Judah;White is the radiance of the priesthood,And blue, the splendors of the firmament. -- August L. Frankl, "Juda'sFarben," in Ahnenbilder (Leipzig, 1864), p. 127
Elijah, John and Tallit • The Prophet Elijah wore a garment described as a MANTLE (Heb.Addereth) which evidently produced miracles under the operation of the Spirit of God which was upon him. It was the traditional prayer shawl we know today. Essentially the same item is described in Zechariah 13:4 as the traditional “rough garment” of the prophets, often made of camel hair or goat’s hair. • John Baptizer wore one of leather as well, in the tradition of Elijah (Mark 1:6).
Elijah and the Widow’s Son • Elijah utilized his entire being, covered in tallit, in raising the son of the poor widow of Zarephath. The account is in I Kings 17: 17-24. • The son had fallen ill and there was no breath in him; he was dead. • Elijah was not daunted. He prayerfully stretched himself upon the child three times, crying “O Lord, I pray Thee, let this child’s life come into him again.”
Elijah’s Prayer Answered • As he stretched himself upon the child the profuse folds of his prayer shawl covered both. • His prayer was answered straight away. The widow was presented her son, now alive and well from the death state! • Elijah used this same garment in his selection of Elisha, his protégé, by casting his mantle upon Elisha whom he observed ploughing with 12 yoke of oxen (I Kings 19: 19)
Tallit Parts the Jordan • Again, Elijah, wrapping the tallit together (II Kings 2:8), smote and parted the Jordan River so that he and Elisha crossed on dry ground just prior to his being taken into the heavens by the horses and chariots of fire. • Elisha, having seen at least this one miracle of the parted waters, asked a DOUBLE PORTION of Elijah’s spirit be upon him.
Elisha and Tallit • Elijah had asked his friend, “What shall I do for thee, before I be taken away from thee?” • Elisha’s request for the double portion of the spirit was granted when he observed Elijah’s departure. Elisha took up the prophet’s prayer shawl which had fallen from the prophet, walked back to Jordan, smote the waters in the same fashion, and crossed dry-shod.
Elisha’s Miracles • That was the first of 16 recorded miracles done by Elisha – precisely DOUBLE the number of recorded miracles that were performed by Elijah – a double portion of his Spirit, indeed!
Jesus’ Mantle Falls • A correlate to the Elijah affair is seen in the apostles who beheld Jesus’ ascent into the heavens from the summit of Olivet. This sight sealed their faith in Him as Messiah and Savior. • In a figurative sense, His mantle fell upon them as they wonderingly watched as He disappeared into the clouds of heaven. Jesus had told them, “He who believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works shall he do, because I go unto My Father.” John 14: 12