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Full text of "The Secrets of the Prayer Shawl"

S ecaets/ oh tA& 




tdAM/V 



Skauw 



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Tallit 



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PROF.M.M.NINAN 



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THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 




rr^ea 



Xustkrs t?:ix 'J 



n^x 



V 



Owe Talut- 



What is a tallit? 




The Lord said to Moses as follows: Speak to the Israelite people and 

instruct them to make for themselves fringes (Tzitzit) nx>x on the corners 

(Kanphei) w? of their garments throughout the ages; let them attach a cord 

of blue to the fringe at each corner. That shall be your fringe; look at it and 

recall all the commandments of the Lord and observe them, so that you do 

not follow your heart and eyes in your lustful urge. Thus you shall be 

reminded to observe all my commandments and to be holy to your God. I 

the Lord am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your 

God: I, the Lord your God 

Numbers 15:37-40 

and 

You shall make tassels on the four corners of the garment with which you 

cover yourself. 
Deuteronomy 22: 12 

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THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 





The tallit (Modern Hebrew: ri'Vu) 
(pronounced TAH-lis in Yiddish) is 
a prayer shawl. It is a rectangular- 
shaped piece of linen or wool with 
special fringes called Tzitzit on 
each of the four corners. The 
purpose of the garment is really to 
hold the Tzitzit. 



The correct plural of tallit in Modern Hebrew is tallitot, pronounced 
tah-lee-TOT; the traditional Sephardi plural of tallet is talletot, 
pronounced tah-leh-TOT, 

Most tallitot have a neckband also, called an Atarah, which has the 
blessing one recites when donning the tallit, embroidered across it. 

The tallit is prayer shawl which when used to cover the head also 
creates a personal isolated space for prayer shutting out the world 
around you. The name Tallit comes from the two Hebrew words: 

TAL meaning tent 

and 
ITH meaning little. 



Thus, you have tallih as a LITTLE TENT. It is this that Jesus was 
referring to when he said, 

Mat 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door 
and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who 
sees in secret will reward you. 

By wrapping yourself in it, or by covering your head with it, you 
can create an individual tent for yourself to converse with God. 

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THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 






The Tallit bag 



The tallit , which can be spread out like a rectangular sheet, is 
woven of wool or silk, in white, with black or blue stripes at the 
ends. The tradition is that the tallit is worn only during the morning 
prayers, except for the Kol Nidre service during Yom Kippur. The 
garment can be made out of linen, wool, silk or synthetics, so long 
as the biblical prohibition against the wearing of clothing combining 
linen and wool is observed. 




THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 

Out of Egypt 

Egypt is a hot country with very little rain and little cold to worry 
about. So ancient Egyptians wore as little as possible due to the 
heat. Ordinary people wore nothing but a loin cloth to cover 
nakedness. Noblemen would occasionally wear tunics, cloaks, or 
robes, though. Women, who mostly stayed indoors, would likewise 
wear little clothing, though they used elaborate jewelleries. Men 
also shaved off their head to reduce heat. 

Into this culture came Jacob and his clan of 70 people with their 
beards and thick hair and covering the entire body with wool and 
linen. Midrash tells us that they observed the laws of tzniut — the 
laws of modesty. They continued to wear their traditional dress of 
nomads even in Egypt. It was their distinct culture that kept them 
as a separate people which eventually led to their liberation and 
return to Canaan. Without that they would have just merged with 
the Egyptians and lost as an ethnic identity. 



Egyptian dresses. 

The dress of the nomads 

The original tallit probably resembled the '"abayah," or blanket, 
worn by the Bedouins for protection from sun and rain, and which 



THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



has black stripes at the ends. It usually had tassels also. Thus the 
shawl covering the top part of the body was the normal dress of the 
Jews as they came out of Egypt and suited well for their wilderness 
journey. 





Roman Toga 




ROMAS* C1.AD IS THE TOOJ1. 



Roman toga was also very similar. The toga was a distinctive 
garment of Ancient Rome. It consisted of a long sash of cloth, of 
over 6 meters in length. This sash was wrapped around the body 
loosely and was generally worn over a tunic. The toga was made of 
wool, and the tunic underneath was made of linen. 



THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 





aj> j? 





Women's dress consisted of TUNICA (underdress) ; 
STOLA (overdress), and PALLA (wrap). 

Non-citizens were forbidden to wear a toga. 



Num 15:38 "Speak to the people of Israel, and bid them to make 
tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their 
generations, and to put upon the tassel of each corner a cord of 
blue. 

What was distinctive to the new commandment was not the regular 
tassels at the ends but the tassels at the four corners of the 
rectangular shawl. 

The Torah explicitly commands that Tzitzit be added to the four 
corners of garments (Maimonides considered it one of the most 
important of the 613 Mitzvot); traditionally the wearing of Tzitzit 
began with this commandment, though biblical scholars consider it 
to be much older, and argue that the commandment reflected an 
already existing practice. If this is true the distinctiveness is simply 
the association of the Tzitzit with the 613 Mitsovot. 



Tzitzit (Ashkenazi pronunciation: tzitzis) are fringes or tassles 
(Hebrew: *'sji (Biblical), ^'^ti (Mishnaic)) found on a tallit worn by 



THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



observant Jews as part of practicing Judaism. In Orthodox Judaism 
it is only worn by males 



The arba kanfots 

After the 13th century AD, when the dressing styles of the nations 
where the jews were in dispersion changed, Tzitzit began to be 
worn on new inner garments, known as Arba Kanfos, rather than 
the outer garments. This inner garment was a 3ft by 1ft rectangle, 
with a hole in the centre for the head to pass through; the modern. 
It was worn just under the overcoat but over the inner dress. These 
arba kanfots constantly reminds the wearer that they are under 
the law and protected by divine law. 




Taliit Katan 



7 



THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



A tallis gadol (Large Tallis) 




A tallis gadol is much bigger 



Chuppah in Weddings 

A chuppah, a piece of cloth held up by four poles, serves as a 
marriage canopy in traditional Jewish wedding ceremonies. The 
bride and groom stand under the chuppah during the ceremony. 
The canopy symbolizes the new home being created by the couple. 
Some people use a tallit for the chuppah cloth. The chuppah is 
usually held outside, under the stars, just prior to sundown, as a 
reminder of the blessing given by God to Abraham, that his children 
will be as numerous "as the stars of the heavens." 

A tallit is commonly spead over the wedding symbolizing the unity 
of husband and wife and reminding them of the commandment 



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THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



Gen 2:24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and 
cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh 





"Bless Adonai, O my soul. Adonai, My God, You are very great, 
You are clothed in glory and majesty. You have wrapped yourself 
with a garment of light, spreading out the heavens like a curtain.": 
The mystical interpretation of the covering shawl is the 
representation of the covering of glory of God on man. 

And Jesus' high priestly prayer was: 

John 17:22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; 
that they may be one, even as we are one: 

Joh 17:21 that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in 
me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us 

It is this triple order of oneness that is represented in the Tallit 
covering. It is this order of oneness that is represented by the 
chuppa the covering and also the Tallit when used in prayer. 

In the traditional prayerbook the following meditation before putting 
on the tallit is found, based on the Kabbalah: 



THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



"I am here enwrapping myself in this fringed 
robe, in fulfillment of the command of my 
Creator, as it is written in the Torah, they shall 
make them a fringe upon the comers of their 
garments throughout their generations. And 
even as I cover myself with the tallit in this 
world, so may my soul deserve to be clothed 
with a beauteous spiritual robe in the World to 
Come, in the garden of Eden." 



Covering the Head 




The ultra-Orthodox wear the tallit over the head when they recite 
the more important prayers. The earlier authorities are divided on 
the question of covering the head. Some are none too happy with a 
practice that might be seen as showing off, since the essential idea 
of covering the head in this way is for the worshipper to be lost in 
concentration, on his own before God, as it were. Religious one- 
upmanship is generally frowned upon. Some hold that only a talmid 
hakham, a man learned in the Torah, should cover his head with 
the tallit. The final ruling is that one should follow whatever is the 
local custom. 

Must be made of one material 

There are very few religious requirements with regard to the design 
of the tallit. The tallit must be long enough to be worn over the 
shoulders (as a shawl), not just around the neck (as a scarf), to 
fulfill the requirement that the tzitzis be on a "garment." It may be 
made of any material, but must not be made of a combination of 
wool and linen, because that combination is forbidden on any 
clothing. (Lev. 19:19; Deut. 22:11) 



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Deu 22:11 You shall not wear a mingled stuff, wool and linen 
together 

This may be because the shawl represents ONENESS of the 
cosmos within ONE God 



Tzitzit - The Fringe 

The Lord said to Moses as follows: Speak to the Israelite people 
and instruct them to make for themselves fringes (Tzitzit) u^ on 
the corners (Kanphei) >*:> of their garments throughout the ages; let 
them attach a cord of blue to the fringe at each corner. That shall 
be your fringe; look at it and recall all the commandments of the 
Lord and observe them, so that you do not follow your heart and 
eyes in your lustful urge. Thus you shall be reminded to observe all 
my commandments and to be holy to your God. I the Lord am your 
God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I, 
the Lord your God 
Numbers 15:37-40 
and 

You shall make tassels on the four corners of the garment with 
which you cover yourself. 

Deuteronomy 22: 12 

The reason for the tassels is given by the torah 

The sole significance of the fa///Ywas in the tzitzit. 



11 



THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 

itjrrnnN d^ djik-ien Dinn? *Tron arm 1 ? *iroi 'nnrrxVi am 

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. - Numbers 15:39 

The term Tzitzith recalls the tzitz, the golden plate, worn by the high 
priest, upon which were engraved the words "Holy unto God" 
(Exodus 28:36). Just as tzitz is derived from \\y (to gaze; cf. Song 
2:9), because it was worn on the forehead, a place visible to all 
(Rashbam), - Tzitzith, too, is derived from the same root. 

Tzitzith also refers to the hairs, or "fringes" on the forehead (cf. 
Ezek. 8:3). This word thus denotes that the fringes are to be seen, 
to be looked upon, and its best translation is, therefore, "show- 
fringes" thus the fringes are attached to the garment in order to be 
seen. It is a mnemonic device. 

Fringe as Identification 

The use of fringes itself was not new. 

Assyrians and Babylonians wore fringes and they believed that 
fringes assured the wearer of the protection of the gods. So it is an 
age old mnemonic technique. 

This ornate hem from where the fringes started, was a "symbolic 
extension of the owner and more specifically of the owner's rank 
and authority." In all societies and cultures the fringes were the "I.D. 
of nobility." 

12 



THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



In Mari, an ancient city in what is now Syria, a professional prophet 
or diviner would enclose with his report to the King a lock of his hair 
and a piece of his hem. ...Sometimes the hem was impressed on a 
clay tablet as a kind of signature. 

Requests accompanied by grasping the fringes of the one from 
whom you wanted something could not be refused. 

Exorcists used the hem of a patient's garment in their healing 
ceremonies. 

A husband could divorce his wife by cutting off the hem of his wife's 
robe. 

Professor Milgrom of Berkeley University, who write one of the 
critical volumes of commentary on the Torah for the Jewish 
Publication Society, saw the tzitzit as a sign of royalty or the 
priesthood. They were worn on the lower hem of the robe, and thus 
signifying those who are called out as a nation as a "kingdom of 
priests" 

The Jewish prayer shawl displayed a person's authority. The more 
important the person, the more elaborate his prayer shawl. In the 
period of Kigns, a Prophets would cut of one of their tassels to send 
along with their prophecy to ensure the king it was their prophecy. 

In 1 Samuel 15:27-29, Saul tore Samuel's tassel from his shawl. 
Samuel told Saul the kingdom of Israel would be torn from him as 
Saul had torn Samuel's tassel (authority) from him. We also see 
David's anguish in 1 Samuel 24:5 when he cut the tassel from 
Saul's shawl. David knew he was to replace Saul as king over 
Israel, but, by cutting the tassel off Saul's shawl, he had gotten 
ahead of God's timing. Thus, stripping Saul of his authority by 

13 



THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



cutting off Saul's tassel, David repented before God and Saul in 
1 Samuel 24:5. 



Why do tallit have blue or black stripes? 

The reason why the tallis is striped is simply because that was the 
fashion in Greece and Rome. But this doesn't answer the question 
of why blue or black? Tzitzis are supposed to include a thread of 
blue wool in each tassle. The stripes on the tallit remind us of the 
'strand of techelef once worn as part of the tzitzit. The Torah 
commands that tzitzis contain a thread of Tichales (blue). The 
reason for this is contained in Sotah 17b. 



Blue thread 



Blue is like sea, 

Sea is like sky 

Sky is like the Throne of the Lord 




Royal Blue 

In each tassel was to be one wool thread dyed in blue. Aaron, the 
High Priest of Israel, had his robe dyed in purple as recorded in 
Exodus 28:31-35. 

The color is still known as "royal" blue. By placing one blue thread 
in every man's prayer shawl, God identified every Jewish man as 
king in his home. The fact that each man was allowed to mix linen 
with wool in his tassel also reveals how God identified each man as 



14 



THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



a priest. This combination was reserved only for the priests. The 
Torah only calls for a few blue threads, one for each fringe, perhaps 
because that meant that even the poorest Israelite could afford 
them. 

This color Royal Blue was used in the ecclesiastical authority and in 
the temple where authority was involved. Thus we see them in: 

o Curtains of the tabernacle. 

Exo 26:1 "Moreover you shall make the tabernacle with ten 
curtains of fine twined linen and blue and purple and scarlet 
stuff " 

o The veil of the ark. 

Exo 26:31 "And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and 
scarlet stuff and fine twined linen 

o The screen of the door of the Tent of Meeting . 

Exo 26:36 "And you shall make a screen for the door of the 
tent, of blue and purple and scarlet stuff and fine twined 
linen, embroidered with needlework. 

o The Ephod of the Priest 

Exo 28:6 And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue 
and purple and scarlet stuff, and of fine twined linen, skilfully 
worked 

o Headdress of the Priest 

Exo 28:37 And you shall fasten it on the turban by a lace of 
blue; it shall be on the front of the turban. 



15 



THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 

• girdle of the Priest 

Exo 39:29 and the girdle of fine twined linen and of blue 
and purple and scarlet stuff, embroidered with needlework; 

Thus it is evident that the significance of the blue thread in the 
fringe implies the calling of the Jews: 

Exo 19:5-6 Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my 
covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for 
all the earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests 
and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to 
the children of Israel." 



The Tzitzit is thus a constant reminder to this great responsibility. 
Being surrounded by the Mitzvot of Phylacteries, Tzitzit-Fringes and 
Mezuzot guarantees protection against Sinning: Menachot 43b 

Karaite Tzitzit, using a generic blue dye 

According to the Talmud, tekhelet (ro^n) which appears 48 times in 
the Tanach. This is translated by the Septuagint as "iakinthos" 
(blue). This is a specific dye of blue produced from a creature 
referred to as a "chillazon" impying that no other blue dyes are 
acceptable (Tosefta). The Talmud recounts that the Chilazone 
appears only once in seventy years (Menachot 44a). 

Chilazon: Its dye is used for the Techelet Dye for Tzitzit-Fringes: 

Menachot 44a 

A description of its appearance: Menachot 44a 

It is only found once in 70 years: Menachot 44a 

The Chilazon was found in Zevulun's portion in Israel: Megillah 

6a 



16 



THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



Sometime following the Talmudic era (500-600 CE) the industry 
which produced this dye was destroyed - R. Herzog attributes the 
demise of the industry to the Arab conquest in 638. It became rarer 
and rarer. Over time the Jewish community even lost the tradition of 
which creature is known as "the hillazon" that produced this dye. 
Hence, the 'strand of techelet became a mitzvah which no jew was 
able to fulfill. Since the source of the dye was lost, Jews left the 
stand undyed wearing plain white tzitzit without any dyes. Some 
substituted the blue with the black stripes found on many traditional 
tallitot as representing the loss of this dye. Karaites, who reject the 
Oral Law maintain that any blue dye may be used. 

In the late 19th century a chassidic Rebbe, Rabbi Gershon Henoch 
Leiner, devoted himself to rediscovering the correct species and 
dye making process. He concluded that the chilazon is sepia 
officinalis, the common cuttlefish. In 1889 he reenacted the making 
of the blue, techeiles, dye, and many thousands of chassidim 
began to wear it. In the early 20th century, Rabbi Yitzchak HaLevi 
Herzog studied the subject and came to a different conclusion, 
believing that the lost chilazon was really from the Janthina species 
of snail. 



Threads and knots 

The fringe (tzitzit) on each corner is made of four strands, each of 
which is made of eight fine threads (known as kaful shemoneh). 
The four strands are passed through a hole (or according to some: 
two holes) 1-2 inches (25 to 50 mm) away from the corner of the 
Cloth 



17 



THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 




The tzitzis strings of one corner of a tallit. Note how the eight 
strings are really four that are folded through the hole on the tallit. 

There are numerous customs as to how to tie the fringe. The 
Talmud explains that the Bible requires an upper knot (kesher 
elyon) and one wrapping of three winds (hulya). The Talmud goes 
on to explain that the Rabbis enjoined that between 7 to 13 hulyot 
be tied, and that the initial and final winds must be the color of the 
garment, the interving ones being the color tekhelet As for the 
making of knots in between the hulyot, the Talmud is inconclusive, 
and as such poskim throughout the ages have varyingly interpreted 
this requirement. The Talmud described tying assuming the use of 
tekhelet, however, following the loss of the source of the dye, 
various customs of tying were introduced to compensate for the 
lack of this primary element. 

Tzitzit, with a thread of tekhelet 

Though many methods have been proposed the one that gained 
the widest acceptance can be described as follows: 



18 



THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



The four strands are put through the hole in the corner of the 
garment, thus making two sets of four threads (one set on each 
side of the hole). 

Before tying begins, a blessing is said: L'Shem Mitzvot Tzitzit (For 
the sake of the Commandment of Tzitzit). Some Rabbis are of the 
opinion that one should instead say Baruch atah Adonai Elohainu 
Melech HaOlam, asher kiddishanu b'mitzvotav v'tzivanu la'asot 
tzitzit (Blessed are you, Lord, our God, king of the universe who 
sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to make 
tzitzit). 

The two sets of stands are knotted together twice, and then the 
"shamash" (a longer strand) is wound around the remaining seven 
strands a number of times (see below). The two sets are then 
knotted again twice. This procedure is repeated three times. A 
commonly formed pattern of windings is 7-8-11-13 (totalling 39 
winds - the gematria of the "God is One"). Others, especially 
Sephardim, have 10 and 5 and 6 and 5, a combination that 
represents directly the spelling of the Tetragrammaton. 

Rashi, a prominent Jewish commentator, bases the number of 
knots on a gematria: the word tzitzit (in its Mishnaic spelling) has 
the value 600. Each tassel has eight threads (when doubled over) 
and five sets of knots, totalling 13. The sum of all numbers is 613, 
traditionally the number of mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah. 
This reflects the concept that donning a garment with tzitzit reminds 
its wearer of all Torah commandments. 



19 



THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



Tying the Tzitzit 




t ] 

2" ( 

1 \ 

2 Knots 


^^card 

HI board 


w square 




2 Knots ^ 


E| — 7 Wr L i|;i 


2 KHOlS 


Hf— S Wraps 
g^ 1 1 Wraps 


2 Knots 






B— 13 Wraps 



2 Knots! 





Comparison of Ashkenazi vs. Sephardi-style 
tying. Note the difference in the number and style 
of the winds. 



20 



THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 





Tying Tzitzit is a Jewish art, a form of macrame. 



The tzitzis strings of one corner of a tallit. The 
eight strings are really four that are folded 
through the hole on the tallit. This tzitzit is tied 
Ashkenazi-style. 



— Double Knot 

1 I 

— Double Knot 
8 

—Double Knot 

11 

-Double Knot 

13 
-Double Knot 



How to tie Tzizit according to 
the 



Sephardic style 

Chassidic style 









— Double Knot 


1D<| 






:, — Double Knot 


5<| 


t — Double Knot 


6<| 


B — Double Knot 


5<| 


M — Double Knot 







21 



THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 

Meaning of Tzitzit 

The significant part of the tallit is the Tzitzit (tzee-tzeet) [tassels, 
also called fringes] attached to the four corners of the rectangular 
cloth. The design on the cloth, and the cloth itself, have no great 
significance. Any tassels or strings hanging from the garment other 
than those at the four corners are also insignificant and are for 
aesthetics only. The Tzitzit are what makes this garment a religious 
object. 

There are a number of symbolisms in the knots and windings 

1 . The five knots tied in each tassel can be viewed as symbolic of 
the five Books of Moses, these books are known as Genesis, 
Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. This is the material 
written in the Sefer Torah [Torah scroll]. Of course, the Torah is the 
foundation for all of Judaism. 

The knots and windings are also considered symbolic of the Shema 
(shem-ah): Shema Yisrael Adonai Elohenu Adonai Echad -- Hear 
Oh Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One [Deuteronomy 6:4]. 

[In prayers, "Israel" refers to the Jewish people. It is shorthand for 
"Children of Israel." "Eretz Yisrael" or the "Land of Israel" refers 
to the country.] The Shema is commonly referred to as the 
watchword of the Jewish faith. The recitation of this line is a 
important part of the morning and evening services. 

2. The five knots can be viewed as representing the first five 
(Hebrew) words of the Shema. The last word, Echad, is 
represented by the windings between the knots. Echad means 
"one." The windings bind the knots into a single unit. 

22 



THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



3. Each Tzitzit is made from 8 strings, 7 white and one blue. 
'Seven' is the number representing perfection in the physical realm. 
'Eight', therefore, transcends the physical realm and symbolizes a 
direct link to the spiritual realm. 

Each group of 8 strings is knotted 5 times to form a Tzitzit. There 
are five books in the Torah. 

Each of the 4 tzitzit have 8 strings, making a total of 32 strings. 
Thirty-two is the numeric value of the Hebrew word for "HEART". 
The tzitzit's loose strings represent God's 'heart strings'. 

613 mitzvot (or 613 Commandments. Hebrew: nV'A n*im 
transliterated as Taryag mitzvot; TaRYaG is the acronym for the 
numeric value of "613".) In Judaism there is a tradition that the 
Torah (i.e. the "Pentateuch") contains 613 mitzvot (mitzvot in 
Hebrew means "commandments", from mitzvah - icmn -- "precept", 
plural: mitzvot; from *in, tzavah- "command"). 



According to the main source, of these 613 commandments, 248 
are mitzvot aseh ("positive commandments") and 365 are mitzvot lo 
taaseh ("negative commandments"). 365 corresponded to the 
^^^^ number of days in a solar year and 248 was 
W at that time believed to be the number of 

bones or significant organs in the human 
body. 

4. "Two-House" tzit-tzit. 

Consits of 12 strings (6 for Judah & 6 for 
Ephraim). All strings begin woven together 
into 7 braids, representing the unified 
House. The Houses are then split, again 




23 



THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



with 7 braids each. The two Houses are then woven back together 
again into 7 braids representing the re-unification of the two 
Houses. 

Putting on the Tallit 

Putting on a Tallit Katan 

The tzitzit are first inspected to make sure they are properly intact 
before wearing the tallit katan. While holding the tallit katan, in 
readiness to put it on, the following blessing is recited. (If the 
person will later put on a tallit gadol, this blessing is omitted.) 

TiY i Y rimo ^y nm Mnmozi \i\ui\? ^\un D^iyn ^n wrftn in nnx inn 
Barukh atah, adonai, eloheinu, melech haolam, asher kiedshanu 

b'mitzvotav, v'tzievahnu al mitzvat tzitzit 

Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who has 

sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us 

regarding the commandment of fringes 

After donning the tallit katan, many kiss the tziztit; some add the 
following: 

i 1 ?*} YDD 1 ? n* 1 * nun raivyn Tinvy tiqn 'n 1 ?*! -n 1 ?* ti yio^n |i>n -n 1 

n^o \nu pa D'l^nn m>m Anni n-nniDi i \?n\?i\ n-uiD "702. n'rm'p 

Y'hie rahtzon miel'fanehchah, adonai ehlohay vaylohay ahvotay, 

sheht'hay khashuvah mitzvot tzitzit Ifahnehkhah, k'ielu 

kieyahm'tieah b'khal prahtehyah v'diek'dukehyah v'khahu'notehyeh, 

v'tahr'yag mitzvot hat'luyim ba. Amen Selah 

May it be the will before you, Lord, my God and the God of my 

forefathers, that it should be considered the commandment of 

fringes before You as if I had fulfilled it in all its aspects, its details 



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and its intentions, as well as the 613 commandments that are 
dependent on it. So be it, [consider what we have said]. 



Kissing the tzitzit 

There are several times during the service when people kiss the 
tzitzit symbolically. 

First is during the recitation of the third paragraph of the Shema 
(Numbers 15:37-41) which mentions the tzitzit three times. As the 
worshiper reads the word "tzitzit," it is customary to kiss the tzitzit, 
which were gathered together in one hand prior to reciting the 
Shema . 

When the Torah is removed from the Ark and carried around the 
synagogue in a Hakafah (procession), those within reach touch the 
Torah mantle with tzitzit (if they are wearing a tallit) or a siddur 
(prayerbook) if they are not. They then kiss the tzitzit or siddur 
which touched the Torah scroll. 



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Prayer Shawl 

and 

Bible Manners and Customs 

The Prayer Shawl, (aka. tallis, tallit, talis) is a religious symbol, a 
garment, shroud, canopy, cloak which envelops the Jew both 
physically and spiritually, in prayer and celebration, in joy and 
sorrow. 

While some other Jewish garments or objects might be treated 
more casually, the tallit is a special personal effect, generally used 
for many years or a lifetime and never discarded. Most Jewish men 
(and some women) own very few tallitot in their lifetimes. A 
threadbare tallit is treated with great respect, as if it had a mantle of 
holiness, acquired from years of use. Although there is no 
mandatory tradition, in Conservative, reform, and otherwise non- 
religious families a tallit, as well as tefillin, is likely to be given as a 
special gift, from father to son, from father-in-law to son-in-law, or 
from teacher to student. It might be purchased to mark a special 
occasion, such as a wedding, a bar/bat mitzvah, or a trip to Israel. 
When a man dies, it is traditional that he be buried dressed only in 
his kittel, with his tallit is draped over him. 

Anyone attending an orthodox synagogue today will see that the 
men are all wearing prayer shawls. It is a very important part of 
Jewish life. Learning about this sacred garment will teach many 
exciting lessons from other Bible stories, even in the New 
Testament! 

It is used at all major Jewish occasions: circumcisions, bar 
mitsvahs, weddings and burials. It protects the scrolls of the Torah 
when they are moved. 

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It inspired the Jewish flag. Three separate people had the same 
idea. They just unfurled the prayer shawl and added the Shield of 
David and created the flag of Israel. 

The dead are wrapped in it when they are buried. 



raXf ~^g^" 


*~*-* ^ ^fc ^K\a 111 a^ ' 1 




EMST^" ^ 



Burial 

After death, Jews are buried with varying customs, depending on 
where they are to be buried. In the Diaspora, burial takes place 
within a plain, wooden casket. The corpse is collected from the 
place of death (home, hospital, etc.) by the chevra kadisha (burial 
committee). After a ritual washing of the body , the body is dressed 
in a kittel (shroud) and then a tallit. One of the tzitzit is then cut off. 
In the Land of Israel, burial is without a casket, and the kittel and 
tallith are the only coverings for the corpse. 

In addition to tahrihim, the shroud, some Jews are wrapped in the 
prayer shawl (tallit) in which they prayed. Every tallit is tied with four 
sets of knotted fringes (tzizif), which symbolize the commandment 
(mitzvof) incumbent upon Jews. Before the tallit \s placed on a body 
for burial, however, one of the sets of fringes is cut to demonstrate 
that the person is no longer bound by the religious obligations of 
the living. 



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Proof of Resurrection: 

Jesus folded his Tallit when he arose from the dead. 

Yeshua, the Messiah, also was put in the tomb with His prayer 
shawl about His head as was the custom of burial. The TALLIT, 
which the KJV Holy Bible calls the napkin, is one of the many great 
infallible proofs, as Jesus showed Himself ALIVE after his death on 
the cross. 

John 20:6-8 we read, "Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and 
went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the 
napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but 
wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other 
disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and 
believed." 

As Peter and then John entered the empty tomb, they saw 
something that immediately convinced them that the resurrection of 
Yeshua was irrefutable fact. This is just a single small example of 
the richness of the proof of the resurrection. It also shows why 
Gentiles should rejoice that the Jewish Roots of the Gospel are 
being restored by the modern Messianic movement. 

Yeshua knew that when Simon Peter burst into the tomb and found 
it empty, Peter would think the Romans had somehow disposed of 
the body. That is why Yeshua, at the time of His resurrection, on 
Saturday, the Sabbath, Nissan 17, three days and nights after His 
death on the cross on Wednesday, Nissan 14, 30AD, folded His 
Tallit. Yeshua took the time to precisely fold His prayer shawl, His 
TALLIT, and lay it apart from the other grave wrappings. 



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When Peter saw the tallit, as only Yeshua would fold it, he knew 
that the Romans did not take the body; because, if they had, NO 
WAY would they have folded, or even known how Yeshua folded 
His tallit. Yeshua MUST be alive to fold that tallit, Yeshua's way, as 
Peter and John knew very well. 

Prayer Closet 

TALITH contains two Hebrew words; TAL 

meaning tent and ITH meaning little. Thus, 

you have LITTLE TENT. Each man had his 

own little tent. Six million Jews could not fit 

into the tent of meeting that was set up in the 

Old Testament. Therefore, what was given to 

them was their own private sanctuary where 

they could meet with God. Each man had 

one! His Prayer Shawl or Talith. They would 

pull it up over their head, forming a tent, 

where they would begin to chant and sing 

their Hebrew songs, and call upon God. It was intimate, private, 

and set apart from anyone else -- enabling them to totally focus 

upon God. This was their prayer closet! 

Matthew 6:6 tells us to enter into our "closet" for prayer. When a 
Jewish man puts on his prayer shawl, he closes himself in and 
shuts out the world. This effectively becomes his "prayer closet" 
and this was an image in the mind of Matthew when he wrote the 
admonition of Jesus. 




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Ruth And Boaz 

Jewish weddings are sometimes performed under a prayer shawl 
held up during the ceremony by four poles called a chupa or 
huppah. In Mid East culture they cast a garment over one being 
claimed for marriage. In Numbers 15:38 the word translated border 
or corner is a Hebrew word which can also be translated wings as it 
is some seventy-six times in the biblical text. 




For this reason, the corners of the prayer shawl are often called 

wings. 

Lord speaks to Jerusalem 

Ezekiel 16:8, , "and I spread my wing over thee, and covered thy 
nakedness," 

Psalm 91 "abide under the shadow of the Almighty " and "under His 
wings." 

In the book of Ruth, Ruth found herself at the feet of Boaz. 
According to the Levirate system Ruth was expected to get children 
to keep her husbands family through the kinsmen of her husband, 
this move was too fast for Boaz. This was a direct claim for that 
right from Ruth. 

Ruth 3:9 He said, "Who are you?" And she answered, "I am Ruth, 
your maidservant; spread your skirt over your maidservant, for you 
are next of kin." 

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She had the right to be covered by her Jewish spouses Talis as a 
symbolic expression of marriage symbol. Ruth was also indicating 
that it was her legal right in accordance with the commandments 
which the Tiztzit reminded. She was taking the cover of the law of 
Moses. 

Deu 25:5 "If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has 
no son, the wife of the dead shall not be married outside the family 
to a stranger; her husband's brother shall go in to her, and take her 
as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband's brother to her. 

It is interesting to note that a similar custom still prevails at an 
orthodox Jewish wedding, when the bridegroom covers his bride 
with his tallit, his prayer shawl, with its tassels at each corner, 
signifying that he is taking her into his care. 

The hem of a Jew's garment was not, as in modern clothes, a 
simple fold of the cloth, sewn down to prevent the edge from 
fraying. It was a decorative feature that made a statement about the 
status and importance of the wearer. The people of other nearby 
nations also had this custom. In texts found in Mesopotamia, 
references indicate that the removal of the fringe of a man's 
garment was the equivalent of removing part of his personality. To 
cut off the hem of a wife's garment was regarded as divorcing her. 

Tablets have been found with the impression of a fringe as the 
mark of the individual, a personal seal or signature. 

In New Testament times, ordinary people only wore a tallit on 
special occasions, if at all. It was the Pharisees who seem to have 
worn it regularly and, apparently in some cases, often for show. 
Jesus expresses no disapproval of the custom itself but he does 
condemn the extra long fringes that they affected to display their 

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piety [Matthew 23:5]. Thus the hem or fringe of a garment indicated 
the rank or personality of the wearer. 

When David spared Saul's life, he took away evidence that he had 
him in his power: "Then David arose, and cut off the skirt (hem) of 
Saul's robe privily," 1 Samuel 24:4. 

Why did David do this, and why did his conscience smite him for 
having done it? Was there some special significance in what he 
had done? In fact the act of cutting off the skirt (fringe) of Saul's 
robe was of very great significance, which Saul was not slow to 
recognize. When the shouting began next day Saul said: "And now, 
behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that the 
kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand" (1 Sam. 
24:20). David had robbed Saul of his status symbol, the fringe of 
his robe that identified him as king. The fringes on the garment 
were a status symbol. 

The Prophet Elijah passed his mantle on to Elisha in II Kings 2. 
Many believe that this mantle was actually his Talis and was 
symbolic of the power of prayer that Elijah had saturated that 
mantle with. This mantle that Elijah left behind as he was taken up 
by a whirlwind into heaven, was what Elisha struck and parted the 
waters with. Elijah's mantle was a status symbol. 

It will be remembered that Jesus castigated the Pharisees for 
enlarging their fringes (Matt. 23:5), the inference being that they 
were thereby trying to magnify their importance. Despite this, he 
must sometimes have worn one himself as the story of the woman 
who touched the hem of his garment suggests [Luke 8:43, 44]. 
What was the significance of the hem of His garment and how did 



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she know touching it would heal her? Other people, too, were 
healed by touching the borders or tassels of his clothes [Mark 6:56]. 

The Hem of His Garment 

"But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness 
arise with healing in his wings," Malachi 4:2. One of the best 
known miracles of healing that Jesus performed was the occasion 
when a woman who had suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve 
years came up behind him and touched the hem of his garment, 
Matthew 9:20 The woman was, in fact, reaching for the tassels on 
Jesus' prayer shawl. In Hebrew, these tassels, which are attached 
to the corners of the prayer shawl, are called tzitzit. Why should she 
stoop to touch the fringe? Why not his arm, or his feet? 

As the torah was placed over the head, it formed his own tent. 
WINGS of the garment were formed when the arms were held out. 
For this reason, the corners of the prayer shawl are often called 
"wings." During the first century there were several traditions 
associated with the tzitzit concerning Messiah. One was that these 
knotted fringes possessed healing powers. Certainly the woman 
with the issue of blood knew of these traditions, which would 
explain why she sought to touch the hem (the wings) of Jesus' 
prayer garment. The same word used in Numbers 15:38 for corner 
is used in Malachi 4:2 for wings. With this understanding in mind, 
an ancient Jew under the prayer shawl could be said to be dwelling 
in the secret place of the Most High and under His wings (Ps. 91 :1- 
4). The lady with the issue knew that if Jesus were the promised 
Messiah, there would be healing in His wings (fringes). That this 
was the opinion of many other people is revealed by the crowd who 
sought his healing powers, "that they might only touch the hem of 
his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole," 
Matthew 14:36. 

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THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 

The Tzitzit and Jesus 

In Jesus' day, Jewish men wore a simple tunic both at home and at 
work. When appearing in public, they would cover their tunic with a 
large rectangular cloth which draped over the shoulder and fell to 
the ankles. This cloth was called a tallit and served as protection 
from cold and rain. Hanging from the end of each of its four corners 
(wings) was a tzitzit in obedience to the biblical command. 

Through the centuries, during times of persecution, Jews were 
often forbidden to wear the tzitzit on the outside of their garments. 
This forced them to wear a small four-cornered tallit under their 
shirts. Today the prayer shawl is called a tallit. 

During the first century there were several traditions associated 
with the tzitzit concerning Messiah. One was that these knotted 
fringes possessed healing powers. This tradition has its roots in the 
prophecy of Malachi 4:2 where the Messiah is said to be coming 
with healing in His wings. 

Certainly the woman with the issue of blood knew of these 
traditions, which would explain why she sought to touch the corner 
(the wings) of Jesus' prayer garment. 

The same word used in Numbers 15:38 for corner is used in 
Malachi 4:2 for wings. With this understanding in mind, an ancient 
Jew under the prayer shawl could be said to be dwelling in the 
secret place of the Most High and under His wings (Ps. 91 :1-4). 
When one realized the significance of this concept to the first- 
century Hebraic mind, it becomes clear why this woman was 
instantly healed. She was expressing her faith in Jesus as the Son 
of Righteousness with healing in His wings and declaring her faith 
in God's prophetic Word. 



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THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 

"Swaying" as You Pray 

When a Jewish man prays, he sways. Among the reasons offered 
to explain this moving of the body while praying, two are more 
widely held. The first comes from Proverbs 20:27, which says, "The 
lamp of the Lord searches the spirit of a man; it searches out his 
inmost being". The Jews conclude that the spirit of the man is the 
candle of the Lord and it should flicker and wave in harmony with 
the light of the Torah. The second comes from Psalm 35:10, which 
says, "My whole being will exclaim, 'Who is like you, Lord?"' 

This act of swaying produces a trance in which the person thinks 
only of the Lord as he prays the Word of God. The Apostle Paul 
speaks of this in Acts 22:17 when he says, "When I returned to 
Jerusalem and was praying at the Temple, I fell into a trance and 
saw the Lord speaking". Peter had a similar experience in prayer 
recorded in Acts 10:9-16. Peter was accustomed to praying three 
times daily in this manner. This was his afternoon prayer (Mincha). 
He obviously fell into this trance. 

Tallit a Kum 

Another story unfolds in Matthew in Matthew 9:18-26 and Mark 
5:20-43. We find Jesus being sent for by Jairus, a ruler of a 
synagogue, to minister healing to his daughter. Before Jesus can 
get to her a woman with an issue of blood comes and touches his 
garment. If she can just touch the "hem of his garment" she will be 
made whole. The word, translated hem in this passage, is the same 
one translated as fringes in other passages. She knew that if she 
could just get hold of God, she could be healed. Jesus knew that 
He had been touched. Mark 5:30 says Jesus knew virtue went out 
of him. The word rendered virtue is more accurately translated 
"power". The Hebrew equivalent from the LXX, is "army or host". 
Power left Him was it power to heal? Yes, to a point, but it 

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THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



was more than that. Cleanliness left Him. The woman rendered 
Him unclean by touching His clothes. Through no fault of His own, 
He became unclean and He felt the power leaving Him. This is 
important to the rest of the story. It was forbidden for a rabbi or 
priest to touch a dead body and remove his state of cleanliness. 
When Jesus reached Jairus house, He was told that the girl was 
dead. Jesus states the she is only asleep and they laugh Him to 
scorn, Mark 5:40. Why did He make this statement? He wanted 
them to know she was dead and He was going in. He was allowed 
to enter because the woman with the issue of blood rendered Him 
unclean. Then Jesus calls "Talitha Cumi". The translators tell us it 
means "damsel, arise". There are other words that would have 
been used to address the girl. What Jesus actually said was more 
like - Girl in the Tallit, God says arise! This is why He said not to 
tell what had happened. The people knew she was dead and would 
just as surely know she was now alive. What Jesus did not want 
them to know as yet was the fact that He walked, lived and 
functioned on earth as God and in fact was God! He knew it and 
those in the room knew it, but He did not want anyone else to know 
it as yet. 



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THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 




A MYSTICAL INTERPRETATION OF TZITZIT 

By Yechezkel Gold 

The Torah says that we must make for ourselves fringes (tzitzit) on 
the corners of our garments (Numbers 15).The Code of Jewish 
Law, the Shulchan Aruch, explains that a man wearing a garment 
with four or more corners must tie the tzitzit on the four most distant 
corners of the garment. 

A corner is the meeting point of two edges of the garment, each 
edge running in a different direction from the one it meets. That is, 
a corner is a point where two edges no longer can continue on their 
own separate paths, but rather each limits the other, thereby 
forming a corner, an area which comes to a point. Like an edge, a 
corner is an interface of the material and the area of non-material, 
but unlike the edge which forms a line, a corner is an area which 
comes to a point. 

While checking the fringes before donning the tallit, we say: "Bless 
the Lord, O my soul! O Lord, my God, You are very great; You have 
clothed Yourself with majesty and glory. You cover with light like a 

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THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



garment, stretch out the heavens like a hanging." The garment of 
the tallit, then, is compared to a garment of light, and the tzitzit are 
compared to the heavens stretching and hanging downward. 

The Talmud informs us that there are two worlds, the spiritual and 
the physical. For most of us, the physical world is reality and the 
spiritual world is ethereal and theoretical. For the mystic, though, 
spirituality is not only real, but it is true realism. Also, the notion of 
creation implies that this true reality existed before creation and is 
eternal, and creation of physicality lead to a derivative, new reality, 
by a process extending eternal reality to include also physical 
existence. 

Thus, from a mystical perspective, the cloth of the tallit, the prayer 
shawl represents true reality; therefore it is substantial. Physical 
reality is less real, so it is represented by the area of non-cloth., by 
a void. From the perspective of the tallit, the created reality would 
be non-reality and nonexistence except for the tzitzit that stretch 
forth from real reality, extending reality also to the created realms. 

The notion of an intrinsic, spiritual reality which existed before 
creation, the Infinite Light, the realm of sephiros, (the Holy 
Emanations of the Infinite Light), and the souls of the righteous, all 
emanating from the Holy King, raises the question how this reality 
can have permitted extension to non-intrinsic creation. True, in the 
infinite potential which is part our understanding of the Ayn Sof, the 
Infinite, is also the possibility of created reality. However, that 
created reality does not reflect its source and therefore will not be 
emanated spontaneously into existence. 

That is, intrinsic reality reflects its source in the sense expressed in 
recounting of creation in Genesis. After God emanated the light, the 

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THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



verse continues: "And it was evening, and it was morning, one 
day." The first day was not creation, strictly, in this sense, but rather 
emanation of light, where light reveals its source but adds nothing 
new. Therefore, it is called "one day", as Rashi, the major source of 
Biblical explanations, explains: "According to the order of 
expression used in this chapter, it should have said 'first day' as it is 
written for the other days: second, third, fourth. Why did it write 
'one'? Because the Holy One, blessed be He, was alone in His 
world, for the angels were only created on the second day." 

Thus, beginning creation proper on the second day, (it at least 
seemed that) the Holy One, blessed be He, was not alone in His 
world. This was the creation of a new, non-intrinsic reality in which 
other beings came into existence, but on the first day, the light 
emanated revealed that God alone exists. That light and realm are 
intrinsic. They reflect reality before something new is created. The 
verse refers to this level as as "You cover with light like a garment." 
That is, in the infinite potential of the Ayn Sof, there is the possibility 
of emanating what exists intrinsically in any case, and there is also 
the possibility of creating a new and different reality. We 
understand that these represent two distinctly different types of 
potential. On the level of potential, intrinsic reality exists already 
potentially, ready to be emanated, whereas created reality is in the 
realm of nonexistence until it is introduced ex nihilo. 

The potential for intrinsic reality is represented by the tallit, and the 
potential for created reality by the empty space around the tallit. 
Moreover, the edge of the tallit separates them. That is, it is not in 
the nature of intrinsic, Godly reality to extend to created reality, nor 
is it in the nature of the created reality to attain the Godly. This is 
analogous to the division of the waters into upper and lower realms 
of the second day of creation. 

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The essence of mystical Judaism is that, although they should be 
connected, nevertheless, the intrinsic and created realms are 
connected. The question is how could this be possible? How could 
a new, separate and created reality issue from the intrinsic reality 
which simply reflects the Only One? 

The letters of God's name provide the answer. Besides constituting 
a unity, as the verse states: "The Lord is One", each letter has its 
own individual signification. 

The yud reflects intrinsic, eternal reality most purely. Analogous 
to what was described earlier, it does not extend down to the line, 
to the created reality of this world, but is separate from it, hovering 
above. 

♦'The hai at the beginning of a word means "the". Whereas 
without "the", a noun is indefinite, the word "the" renders it definite 
and denoted. The hai makes the separateness and ungraspable 
character, itself, of the yud definite, and thereby, somewhat closer 
to the line, to created reality. Nevertheless, it represents the 
resolution of pure spirituality, and does not really extend to created 
being. 

* The vov means "and". It adds something to what was previously 
there. It is the true source of created reality in the Ayn Sof, denoting 
that the intrinsic reality of yud and hai can not contain the Infinite 
Light, which extends outward to create a new, non-intrinsic reality, 
too. Thus, unlike the yud, it extends down to the line, extending its 
souce in intrinsic reality even to created reality. 

♦^ Like the first hai, the second one renders the previous letter 
definite. Thus, just as the first hai represents the King, the yud, 
being on His throne, in the court and presence of His spiritual 
subjects, so the second hai represents the actual creation of a new 

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THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



reality through the extension of the Ayn Sof toward creation, 
represented by the vov. 

That is, the vov links the intrinsic and created realities. How is it 
possible to connect a reality whose very nature is to be intrinsic and 
therefore separate, immutable and spiritual to a realm whose 
character is definite, new, and tends toward physicality and thus to 
transience? 

The tallit provides us with the answer. The tallit represents a reality 
whose very nature is to be intrinsic and therefore separate, eternal, 
immutable and spiritual, and the edges represent the separateness 
of that reality. From that perspective, no new, created realm could 
ever exist. Moreover, it would seem impossible for two edges to 
come together, let alone to limit each other. After all, each edge is 
separate, eternal, immutable and spiritual in character. If, 
nevertheless, they do come together and do limit each other, it 
represents a domain well above and not contained by the intrinsic, 
eternal and immutable reality. This is the origin of the vov: the 
dimension of the Ayn Sof so infinite that it is not even contained by 
the intrinsic and eternal. 

A corner of the tallit, then, represents the place or dimension of the 
infinite potential which is transcendent, which is not contained by 
the intrinsic and eternal, and extends even to what is new and 
created. 

The corner of the tallit also represents orientation within the intrinsic 
realm toward the new reality beyond, toward creation. The (self-) 
limitation represented by the corner is a point, because in order to 
extend outside itself, outside the "one day", to the finite and 
created, it must begin with a definite point. For example, in order to 

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THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



say something (creation was with God's speech) one must first 
know specifically what one wants, which is a single point. 
Afterwards the multiple details of what means to employ to get it, 
including speech, and then choice of words, can develop. 

It is curious that in order to extend beyond its intrinsic limits to the 
"outside", the Ayn Sof limits and turns away from itself. The 
expansion is achieved through contraction. As stated above, this 
limitation represents a level still higher than the reflection of the 
infinite in intrinsic reality. It is the origin of the "and", of the vov. 

The actual extension of reality to the new and created goes over 
the point of the corner of the tallit, but it is not the tallit (intrinsic 
realm) itself. Rather, the extension is by the fringe, the tzitzit. Thus, 
the actual fulfillment of the mitzvah, of the commandment, is 
through the fringe, which represents the actualization and complete 
expression of the vov. The mitzvahs are even higher than the 
eternal intrinsic realm, adding a still higher level to the intrinsic 
realm by extending the Ayn Sof beyond it. 

Indeed, in Jewish mysticism the mitzvah of tzitzit is particularly 

connected to the letter vov. Thus the mystical book , the Tanya, 

states that he who omits tzitzit blemishes the letter vov of His 
name. 

Although the tzitzit represent turning away from intrinsic spirituality 
toward the created world, they connect the two realms too. 
Connecting the two disparate realms is achieved by a balance 
which includes and accounts for each. This is represented by the 
corners of the tallit, which are a place which unite the tallit 
representing the eternal realm, and the non tallit, representing the 



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THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



created realm. The verse refers to this level as "stretch out the 
heavens like hanging." 

This is further represented in the form of the tzitzit, which are 
strings tied and wrapped around each other for the first third of their 
length, then separate loose strings hanging down freely for the 
remaining two thirds. In the teachings of the saintly Ari za"l, the 
famous mystic, the first third represents the inner dimension. That 
is, the mystical realm is reflected in the knots and wraps of the first 
third of the length of the tzitzit, denoting the mystical meanings of 
the mitzvahs. There, the strings are attached to the tallit and 
intertwined, yet they extend downward: the separate elements of 
the new created reality are interwoven with the intrinsic, eternal 
realm. Departing from that level for the remaining two thirds of the 
tzitzit, the separate elements of reality evolve independently, each 
achieving its own separate connection to the new, created realm. 

By knowing and thinking about the significance of the mitzvah of 
tzitzit while performing the mitzvah, one is doing just what the tzitzit 
are supposed to do: to connect the inner, intrinsic, eternal realm to 
the new creation. 

In the passage about tzitzit, the Torah states: "In order that you 
remember, and perform all of the commandments". From this the 
Rabbis derive that the commandment of tzitzit has the weight of all 
the other mitzvahs combined. That is, it has a general significance 
of which each other mitzvah partakes. Figuratively, each mitzvah is 
a fringe hanging at a corner of the tallit - of the eternal, intrinsic 
reality. The ideas behind tzitzit, linking eternity to the new creation 
through a series of spiritual levels and steps each of which are 
rooted in the intrinsic reality of "one day", a realm where only God 
exists, and simultaneously are oriented toward the physical 

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creation, function in each mitzvah: they all serve to connect us to 

God. From:http://www.jewishmag.com/30MAG/tzitzit/tzitzit.htm 

Talmudic Sources Concerning 
Prayer Shawls and Threads 

Legal Issues 

Defining the term, "threads": Menachot 41b, 42a 

Whether the commandment is person-based, or garment-based: 

Shabbat 131a-b; 

Menachot 41 a, 42b 

Whether having threads on all of the four corners constitutes four 

separate 

commandments, or they are all necessary to fulfill a single 

commandment: Menachot 

37b-38a 

Not travelling 4 cubits without threads: Shabbat 1 1 8b 

Doing the commandment with beautiful threads: Shabbat 133b 

Whether Kohanim are obligated: Menachot 43a 

Whether women are obligated: Succah 1 1 a [See Rashi 

"LePirzuma"]; Menachot 43a 

Whether blind people are obligated: Menachot 43a 

When minors become obligated: Succah 42a 

Whether slaves wear them: Menachot 43a 

Putting them on a corpse before burial: Menachot 41a 

Requiring that one separate the threads: Menachot 42a 

The threads are items of a commandment, not items of intrisic 

holiness, and so 

may be disposed of after their use is finished: Megillah 26b 



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The Garment 

The minimum size of such a garment: Menachot 40b-41a 

Validity of threads for an undersized garment: Menachot 40b-41a 

A borrowed garment: Menachot 44a 

A garment which is entirely dyed blue: Menachot 38b, 41 b 

A garment with 5 corners: Menachot 43b 

A garment with 3 corners: Menachot 43b 

Making wool threads for a garment of flax: Menachot 39a, 39b-40b 

Making flax threads for a garment of wool: Menachot 39b 

A garment of various types of silk: Menachot 39b 

A nighttime garment: Menachot 40b, 41a, 46a 

A garment which is stored in a box, where it is [not] intended for 

eventual 

wearing: Menachot 41a 

A garment which has a corner, or some other part, made of leather: 

Menachot 40b 

A garment which is currently folded in half, and not sewn up, partly 

sewn, or fully 

sewn: Menachot 41a 

If the garment is torn, more or less than 3 finger-breadths from the 

corner: 

Menachot 41a 

Attaching a section of another garment to this one: Menachot 41a 

The Threads 

Threading the dyed threads on the intermediate days of holidays, in 

an altered manner: Moed Katan 19a [2x] 

Minimum/Maximum length of the threads: Menachot 41 b-42a 

Using stolen threads: Succah 9a 

Using threads which already extend, as loose threads, from the 

garment: Menachot 42b 

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Requiring that the threads be created with intent for use for the 

commandment: Succah 9a; Menachot 42b 

Whether the material of the threads is determined by the material in 

the garment 

[ M Min Kanaf"]: Menachot 38a, 38b, 39a, 39b 

The validity of threads which are truncated, depending upon the 

size of the remainder: Menachot 38b, 39a, 41 b 

Using threads of wool and linen: Menachot 39b 

Using threads which will create, with the garment, a mixture of wool 

and linen, in Jerusalem: Menachot 40a 

Blue Dye 

Description of the snail from which the dye is taken: Menachot 44a 

The snail from which the blue dye for threads is extracted, was 

found in Zevulun's portion in Israel: Megillah 6a 

Definition of the color of blue dye: R. Berachot 9b "Techelet" 

How the dye is processed: Menachot 42b 

The dye's color, as reminiscent of the sea, which reminds of the 

heavens, which reminds of the Divine Throne: Menachot 43b 

The White Threads 

Dyeing the "white" threads to be the same color as the garment: 
Menachot 41b 

The white as threads he holier threads: Menachot 39a [See Rashi] 
Whether threads are valid without white threads: Menachot 38a-b 
Whether white threads must precede the blue, or this is just the 
ideal format: Menachot 38a-b 

It is worse to not have the white threads than to not have the blue- 
dyed threads, because the white threads are easier to get: 
Menachot 43b 



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THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 

Making Threads 

Whether one makes a blessing on making threads: Menachot 42a 

Using threads which were connected to the garment beforehand: 

Succah 9a, 1 1a-b; Menachot 40b [2x] 

Moving threads from one article of clothing to another: Pesachim 

101a; Menachot 41 a-b 

Threads made by a gentile: Menachot 42a-b 

Whether one may sell theads to a gentile, and why there should be 

a concern: Menachot 43a 

Dyeing the blue thread with intent for the sake of the 

commandment: Eruvin 96b; Menachot 42b 



Wearing Threads 

Making a blessing on each donning of threads: Menachot 43a 

The Lord puts one who doesn't wear threads in ex-communication: 

Pesachim 113b 

Reward for care in commandment of threads: Shabbat 1 18b 

One should always be wearing threads: Shabbat 153a 

Exemption of a merchant of threads from other commandments 

while engaged in 

marketing the threads: Succah 26a 

Wearing invalid threads outside on Shabbat: Shabbat 139b; 

Menachot 37b-38a 



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Christian Stola and the Prayer Shawl 





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The finer tallit, very likely, was similar in quality to the Roman 
pallium, and was worn only by distinguished men, rabbis, and 
scholars (B. B. 98a; Midrash Genesis Rabbah xxxvi.; Midrash 
Exodus Rabbah xxvii.). The tallit was sometimes worn partly 
doubled, and sometimes with the ends thrown over the shoulders 
(Talmud references Shab. 147a; Men. 41a). The Episcopal 
churches also use a form of tallit in the form of stola. STOLE (Lat. 
stola and orarium, Fr. etole, It. stola, Sp. estola, Ger. Stola), a 
liturgical vestment of the Episcopal Churches, peculiar to the higher 
orders, i.e. deacons, priests and bishops 



Roman Catholic Church 




The Pallium is a circular band of white wool about two inches wide, 
with two pendants hanging down front and back. It is ornamented 
with six dark crosses of silk, and is worn over the liturgical 
vestments. 



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THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 



The pallium is made (at least partially) from the wool of lambs - 
suggesting Christ, the Lamb of God and the Good Shepherd - 
presented each year to the Pope on the feast of St. Agnes. 

Roman Catholic Church law requires a metropolitan to request the 
pallium from the Pope, either personally or by proxy, within three 
months of episcopal ordination or transfer. The pallium is worn only 
within the Archbishop's ecclesiastical province. 





There are many theories as to the "ancestry" of the stole. Some say 
it came from the tallit (Jewish prayer mantle), because it is very 
similar to the present usage (as in the minister puts it on when he 
leads in prayer) but this theory is no longer regarded much today. 
More popular is the theory that the stole originated from a kind of 
liturgical napkin called an orarium very similar to the sudarium. In 
fact, in many places the stole is called the orarium. Therefore it is 
linked to the napkin used by Christ in washing the feet of his 



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disciples, and is a fitting symbol of the yoke of Christ, the yoke of 
service. 



Eastern Chuches 



In the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic liturgical tradition, the 
omophorion (Greek:6|jo(p6piov ; Slavonic: OMOct>op-b, omofor) is 
the distinguishing vestment of a bishop and the symbol of his 
spiritual and ecclesiastical authority. Originally of wool, it is a band 
of brocade decorated with crosses and is worn about the neck and 
around the shoulders. 




"Omophorion"-One of the bishop's vestments, made of a band of 
brocade worn about the neck and around the shoulders. It signifies 
the Good Shepherd by symbolizing the lost sheep that is found and 

thrown over the shoulders of the shepherd. The omophorion is a 
symbol of the spiritual authority of a bishop. 



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THE SECRET OF THE PRAYER SHAWL 

.IT: V 




Fresco from 14th century depicting the omophorion 



Episcopalian Churches 




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The most likely origin for the stole, however, is to be connected with 
the scarf of office among Imperial officials in the Roman Empire. As 
members of the clergy became members of the Roman 
administration, they were granted certain honors, one specifically 
being a designator of rank within the imperial (and ecclesiastical) 
hierarchy. The various configurations of the stole (including the 
pallium or the omophorion) grew out of this usage. The original 
intent, then was to designate a person as belonging to a particular 
organization and to denote their rank within their group, a function 
which the stole continues to perform today. Thus, unlike other 
liturgical garments which were originally worn by every cleric or 
layman, the stole was a garment which was specifically restricted to 
particular classes of people based on occupation. 



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