Mystery of the Talit (Prayer Shawl) Notes
Is there significance to the Prayer Shawl?
Although my "Notes" here are not in article form (to be converted at a later date) I wanted to get these "notes" out as soon as possible. An understanding of why the Talit is worn is made crystal clear.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribband of blue: 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. Num. 15:37-39 (KJV)
- Key words: Fringes (Strongs 6734) – tzitziot (refers to the corner of a prayer shawl)
- borders (Strongs 3671) – kanaph
- Four fringes/borders on a talit – one in each corner
Why is the talit draped over one’s head?
- It resembles a prayer closet – total privacy with God. This may have been what Jesus was referring to when he said, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matt 6:6 KJV). The talit also represents a tent or a crown.
- The top part with the writing is called the crown of the garment. Becomes your crown when you pray.
- The fringes are often grabbed while praying.
Can Ladies Wear One?
Yes. There is no biblical reason not to.
What does the Hebrew Writing on the Collar Mean
Baruch at Adonai, Elohaynu Melech HaOlam, ………..
Blessed art thou, O Lord Our God, King of the universe who has sanctified us with your commandments and has commanded us to wrap ourselves in the fringes (tzitziot).
This will be generally the same Hebrew writing on all Talits.
Why the Rocking while Praying?
Represents bowing before God. Possibly to keep from getting weary during long prayers.
Winding in the Fringes
- There are eight white strands on the talit. A ninth blue strand is often added.
- There are nine gifts of the Holy Spirit.
- There are five knots and four windings in between the knots
- It is rabbinically accepted that the five knots represent the five books of the Torah (the word of God) and the four windings represent the four letters in God’s name – YHVH.
- Deut 6:4 – “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God [is] one LORD.” The word one comes from the Hebrew “echad.”
- 8 (strands) + 5 (knots) = 13:
- The Gematria for the word Echad is 13.
Echad is spelled aleph (1) + cheit (8) + dalet (4) = 13
- Putting them together: The Word of God, The name of God and that God is one are all represented on the fringes of the Talit.
Use of Talit
- Holding the tzitziot while praying is symbolic of holding onto the word, name and essence of God.
- We are called to be a kingdom of priests. When we put on the talit we have a crown of royalty.
- Some talits have a ninth, blue fringe (called a cord). Blue is associated with royalty. We are called to be a kingdom of priests. When we put on the talit we have a crown of royalty.
- Some talits do not have the blue cord. The special ink to prepare the blue cord comes from a shellfish that only comes every 70 years and is very costly and rare.
- The blue stripes across the body of the talit did not appear to be present originally.
Other Uses of Kanaph
- Ruth 3:9 – Boaz told Ruth: “And he said, Who art thou? And she answered, I am Ruth thine handmaid: spread therefore thy skirt over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman.”
The word “skirt” is the same as borders in Num 15:38, kanaph in Hebrew. So Ruth was more than likely referring to the fringes of Boaz’ talit.
- Zech. 8:23 – “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.”
The word “skirt” comes from the same Hebrew word, kanaph.
- 1 Sam. 15:24-28 – “And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD. And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt (kanaph) of his mantle, and it rent. And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.”
Here we see Samuel coming to Saul and filling him in on what he (Saul) did. Saul “laid hold upon the skirt (kaphar) of his (Samuel’s) mantle, and it tore.” This could be referring to Saul tearing Samuel’s tzitziot. He tore a priests garment, his symbol of authority, which was a representation of YHVHs name and very essence. Samuel told Saul that the “renting” or tearing, of the kingdom from would happen just as his talit had been torn.
- 1 Sam. 24:4 – “And the men of David said unto him, Behold the day of which the LORD said unto thee, Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand, that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee. Then David arose, and cut off the skirt (kanaph) of Saul's robe privily.”
David cut the corner of Saul’s robe, the kanaph. David here symbolically stripped Saul of his authority. David knew the symbolic meaning and power to the corner of the talit (the tzitziot) and that is very likely why he was regretful as shown in verse 5: “And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him, because he had cut off Saul's skirt.”
New Testament Applications
- Mark 5:25-30 – The woman with the issue of bleeding for twelve years came up behind Jesus and touched his cloak. This was probably the fringe of his talit. When this happened power was released from Jesus body and the woman was healed. The talit represented Jesus name and person. He asked, who touched me? In a large crowd like that, there could have been several people bumping into each other. Why was He so cognizant of this lady touching Him?
Jesus did wear a talit, He had to wear one to get into the synagogue. There was a belief among the citizens that there was healing power in the tzitziot of a righteous man, Jesus felt power go out of Him!
- Matt. 14:35-36 – “And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.”
The hem of his garment would have been either the fringes or the tzitziot. The citizens were expecting to be healed if they could touch the fringe or tzitziot of his talit.
- That may be the reason the Romans didn’t tear it apart. They could have heard and even seen the power in Jesus that was made manifest by His prayer shawl. The seamless garment spoken of could have been the talit.
- There are 613 fringes on the Talit which match to the 613 commandments in the Torah.
Kanaph also can Mean Wings
- Ruth 2:12 - The LORD recompense thy work, and a full reward be given thee of the LORD God of Israel, under whose wings (kanaph) thou art come to trust.
- Malachi 4:2 - But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness (God and His glory being compared with the sun) arise with healing in his wings (kanaph); and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
Malachi tells us that the Sun of Righteousness will arrive with healing in His wings. The Jewish people at the time of Jesus would have been aware of this prophecy. This is why they felt that there was healing in the wings (corner – kanaph) of the talit of a righteous person.
One More Piece of Symbolism and a Little Genatria
- In the first group of windings on the tzitziot there are seven windings.
- On the second group there are eight.
- The third group has 11.
- And the fourth group has 13.
Does this sound like an unusual sequence of numbers?
- If you total the first two groups of windings you have: 7 + 8 = 15
- The name for God, YHVH is spelled Yod Hei Vov Hei in Hebrew.
The numeric value for these four letters is 10, 5, 6, 5 respecitvely.
If we total the first two number (10 + 5) we have 15.
- There 11 windings in the third group. If we total the numeric value for the last two letters of YHVH we have 6 + 5 = 11
- The last set of windings has 13.
Reading forn Deutereonomy 6:4 – “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.”
- The word “one” comes from the Hebrew “echod”. Echod is spelled aleph cheit dalet in Hebrew. The numeric values are 1 + 8 + 4 = 13.
- Putting it together:
The first three windings have a total number of 26 windings. The word YHVH has a Gematria (numeric value) of 26. The fourth has thirteen windings. The Hebrew word echod (one) has 13 windings.
- If we put the corner piece of the talit together we have “The Lord (YHVH) is One.” The name and essence of God.
We are Healed
When Jesus talks about healing, he is referring not only physical healing but also to mental and spiritual.
- If we add the total the four windings we have: 7 + 8 + 11 + 13 = 39
- Pagan tradition for severe punishment was 40 whips minus one, or 39.
- Malachi 4:2 (above) tells us that the Sun of Righteousness will arise with “healing in his wings (kanaph).”
- 1 Pet. 2:24 tells us: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” By his stripes we are healed! Physically and spiritually.
- The total number of windings could very well represent Jesus stripes.
- We are wrapping ourselves in the physical, mental and spiritual healing of Jesus when we wear the Talit. The restitution of all things is real, it is happening.