Monday, February 4, 2019

Get Back to the First Century: Why do you Dress That Way?

Why Do You Dress That Way?

By Rabbi Daniel Harris
Revised by Rabbi Yehudah ben Shomeyr

It is sad that some religious people in this world are so fearful and backward that sheer appearances lead them to presumptuous conclusions that display ones fearful ignorance.

Home is such a sweet and secure place and it is okay if one never left the confines of their hometown, but not to let their mind leave town is a sad and terrible crime. Ignorance, because of lack of education leads to fear, and fear leads to irrational decisions and conclusions. People need to be more globally minded in the sense of being aware and have a working knowledge of other cultures around them.

When one usually sees me, they automatically assume certain things about me, some of which are accurate. Some things about my appearance should give obvious information away. For instance, when one sees my tzitzit, kippah, and beard should give away that I am a Jew. However, some conclusions are pitifully conjured up by their own imaginations. Some conclusions are assumed by ignorance and a lack of education. For instance, because of my beard and knitted kippah, I have been asked if I were a Muslim. Some have wrongfully assumed that I no longer believe in Messiah. I usually do not wear the black suit normally worn by Orthodox Jews. So being religious, and not necessarily being a suit and tie kind of guy, but more of a hippy, I often wear a long linen button up shirt, cargo pants and sandals. So when in suit and tie-type religious circles, I certainly get some stares. People do not necessarily know how to take me or what to think of me. I will not hide who I am. I am me, you will get no “put-on plastic fronts” here, and I unapologetically shoot straight from the hip in a loving way. What you see is what you get.

I simply do not understand why people would rather gossip and guess, rather than have the chutzpah (nerve, guts) to approach me in a civil manner and simply ask questions. Not to do so is sinful, disrespectful and cowardly. Do people think I’m going to bite their head off or something? It’s not as if I have been disfigured by a horrible birth defect or accident or something to where I wouldn’t want people to stare and ask questions. Look, I decide to dress and appear the way I do knowing full well that most people will be curious. People have the right to ask questions; after all, it is the number one way we learn. So, I dress this way knowing the questions will come; knowing that people have the right to ask questions. I WANT people to ask questions, I love sharing about my Faith and all the “whys” of it.

I just wish people would not “judge a book by its cover”, or judge one negatively when they do not look as the self-imposed western societal norms dictate, especially in religious circles.

The Kippah
True, there is no such place in Scripture that says, “Thou shalt wear a kippah.” But there are very good reasons why we Jews cover our heads today.

In Yalkat Shlomo, Emor 657 (Rabbinical Writings) it says:

“They did not change their names, neither did they change their language, nor did they change their garments.” [Whenever and wherever the Jews were in exile.] 

The word “kippah” is Hebrew and it means “covering.”  It is a religious head covering signifying humility before God.  You see, it is a CHRISTIAN custom to uncover the head in church or at prayer, but it is a JEWISH custom to cover the head before God.  For the most part, it is a manmade custom intended to bring about a conscientious humility and awareness of God, and of course, it is a visual “identification badge” of the Jew.  ADONAI commanded the priests to wear “bonnets (turbans)” during the services and some maintain this scripture reference as sufficient grounds for observance of kippah wearing.  In ancient times, there was a great Rabbi, Rabbi Honah ben Joshua; his own personal practice became universal practice as a result of his great influence and humility.  “He never walked four cubits with an uncovered head, for he used to say” “The Shekinah, ADONAI’s Presence, resides over my head.” [Kiddushin 31a].  The custom of wearing a kippah is firmly ordained in the “Shulchan Aruch” (Orah Chaiyim 2:6, 151:6 and 282:3)

Now, in Yeshua’s day, only married men and Rabbis wore kippahs, laymen and the unmarried usually didn’t. But as custom, everyone, men and women covered their head is synagogue. However, we see even in and after the time of Rav Sha’ul that Jewish believers at that time also wore some sort of head covering.  Hegisippus the Ancient Historian and commentator in 185 C.E. writes, “But, when the sacred band of Emissaries has in various ways closed their lives, and that generation of men to whom it had been vouchsafed to listen to the Godlike Wisdom with their own ears had passed way, then did the confederacy of godless error take its rise through the treachery of false teachers, who, seeing that none of the apostles any longer survived, at length attempted with BARE AND UPLIFTED HEAD to oppose the preaching of the truth by preaching “knowledge falsely so called.””

Before we move on, did Yeshua wear a kippah? Yes! How do we know since it isn’t specifically stated in the Scriptures? Because He was called, “Rabbi,” because He was a Rabbi, and all Rabbis of the day wore a special kippah that denoted that they were a Rabbi.

So the whole head covering issue in I Cor. 11:4 has been taken out of context, here is an excerpt from the article: “Head coverings For Messianic Men: Tradition or Torah?”  Rabbi Edward Levi Nydle, B’nai Avraham Messianic Congregation:
“Let’s look at that verse in the Greek and see what it really means. FIRST YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS A MISTRANSLATION OF THIS VERSE! It is only ONE MISTRANSLATED WITNESS that people try to quote to "prove" head coverings for men are wrong in the eyes of Yahweh.
·       1 Corinthians 11:4 "Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, brings shame to his Head." The Scriptures
·       Complete Jewish Bible by David Stern, "Every man who prays or prophesies wearing something down over his head.."
·       COVERED -#2596 KATA- down, about, AGAINST, in OPPOSITION TO, down from (like a VEIL hanging from his head) –Thayer’s page 327. This word then can mean 1. To hang down from the head (over the face) like a woman’s veil [which in context makes sense as Rav Sha’ul is contrasting the worship of men and women, and that men are not to look like women-Rabbi Ed] 2. In opposition to or opposed to.
·       HEAD # 2776 KEPHALE; KAPTO the HEAD (literally or figuratively) supreme, chief, prominent, MASTER page 345 Thayer’s. This is the same word used twice in this verse. Why was one capitalized and the other isn’t? There are no capitals in Greek.
This verse is NOT against head coverings for men. It is against the wearing of a veil by a man over his face, as was the custom of the women of that period! Why does Rav Sha’ul speak of men wearing long hair or actually adoring the long locks of hair with ornamental jewels as women (the word is #2863 in Greek KOMAO- wear long tresses of hair, locks, as ornamental (length is secondary) from #2864-KOME). Sha’ul did not want the men of Corinth (center for male temple prostitutes of Apollo, Poseidon, and other gods) to be mistaken for women in their dress, and hairstyle-otherwise NO CROSS-DRESSING. The men were pulling their long locks of hair over their faces as a veil as was the manner of women and imitating their hairstyles and manner in prayer. THIS IS NOT TALKING OF A MAN WEARING A HEAD COVERING IN PRAYER OR WORSHIP BUT A VEIL!
Let me present another interpretation also in light of the real meaning of the word –KATA and KEPHALE.
·       In verse 3 Rav Sha’ul says, the HEAD of every man is Messiah, the HEAD of every woman is man, and the HEAD of Messiah is Elohim. There are three HEADS here. The HEAD here is speaking of RULERSHIP or AUTHORITY! Yeshua is HEAD of the Congregation (Eph.1: 22).
·       Verse 4 therefore CAN MEAN this, "Every MAN praying or prophesying, that is teaches, refutes, reproves, admonishes, and comforts having OPPOSITION TO HEADSHIP (AUTHORITY) brings shame upon (dishonors) the Messiah, the HEAD of him."
·       If in verse 5 a woman brings shame or dishonor to her HEAD –MAN by being unveiled or akatakaluptos or literally without veil down, then a man shames his HEAD-MESSIAH YAHSHUA by having his VEIL DOWN Over HIS FACE!
Verse seven is speaking of Yeshua the HEAD being in the image and esteem of Yahweh as we have shown previously. It should read, " Now a man truly ought not to cover his HEAD (Yeshua) by hiding and opposing Him, for He (Yeshua) is the image and glory of Yahweh; but the woman is (the expression of) man’s glory (majesty, pre-eminence). The word cover is katakalupto –to cover wholly-hide, VEIL.
Verse seven could also read, "For a man indeed should not veil his face, since He (Yeshua) is the likeness and esteem of Elohim, but woman is the esteem of man."
These verses are all about delegated authority from the HEAD down. Anyone with delegated authority should have a head covering on his or her head. ADONAI is the SUPREME HEAD-then Moshiach-then man-then woman. Only Yahshua is in the image and likeness of Adonai at this time. Messiah is man’s head and this fact is not to be opposed by man. A man is the head of woman-and she is to acknowledge this fact by wearing a veil upon the hair of her head. Man is under the authority of Messiah the very same way woman is under the authority of her husband. Man also is to show he is under authority in the same manner a woman shows she is under authority- man covers his own head with the ordained head covering of the priesthood.”
Basically there is nothing wrong with a man wearing a kippah or tefillin when praying or prophesying: the main issue was that he wasn’t wearing woman’s headgear or that his hair came over his face and therefore could possibly be mistaken for a woman and so he could be properly seen and heard when praying or prophesying.

The issue of women covering their heads is one of modesty and respect toward the men folk. It is not a symbol of cowering submission to the opposite sex as some believe, for Natsari Jewish men cover their heads too. There are many reasons:

1.    It is symbolic of submission to God, a reminder that God is always above them.
2.    It is a symbol of modesty and piety.
3.    In public, it showed that the woman was married and in proper subjection to her husband.
4.    In synagogue, it is so as not to distract the men folk. For God has made men visually stimulated, and so as not to provoke lust in the men and to maintain chastity between both sexes, women wear a head covering.

Hair is a very sexual stimulant to a man. In Judaism, a woman’s hair is only meant for her husband to enjoy. I did not believe this for I grew up in a western society where the majority of women do not cover their heads. I in essence became desensitized to it to some degree. Yet even in this desensitized state, I could still be aroused sexually by a woman’s hair. All it took was a sexy, longhaired woman to flip that hair in public or on TV and that got my attention. Another example is when I converted to Natsari Judaism; I was around women who covered their head most of the time. So one day when I was at work in a factory, where everyone wore ratty dirty clothes, everyone was hot and sweaty, I saw a female employee walk by. She didn’t have to flip her head, her hair was flat and a bit matted, yet I caught myself doing a double take and that is when it hit me that hair is sensual, and that it is best for a woman to cover her head and that a woman’s hair should only be for her husband. God forbid, someone is unintentionally “turned on” by my wife in any way including her hair.

Rav Sha’ul, (Apostle Paul) was a master of the legalities of the Torah and the halachah thereof (the way to carry it out in one’s daily life).

He deals with this issue in I Corinthians 11, that men should not cover their heads with a woman’s head covering, and that a woman should cover her head with the proper attire for the reasons stated above.

He also mentions the angels. Why? Because in Genesis 6, apparently the fallen angelic race lusted after the daughters of mortal men, Rav Sha’ul links part of this reason to the women not having their heads covered and being a sensual attraction to these fallen beings. The fallen angels end up cohabitating with the daughters of mortal men, and produced what the KJV says were Giants. The Hebrew word is Nephilim: Giant Fallen Ones, the
Human angelic hybrid.  Yes, you do not hear about this in Nominal Christianity and it sounds mythical and fantastic, but this is a well-established interpretation in Judaism. I am not a theologian, scholar or scientist, just a simple Rabbi, so I cannot explain the how of it all. But apparently, this was also the reason for the Genesis flood, to wipe out the Nephilim so the human gene pool would be saved and the human race wouldn’t become a lost human demonic hybrid. This was only one of Satan’s tactics to keep the Gen. 3:15 prophecy of a coming redeeming Messiah from coming to pass.

But the word “angel” can also simply mean a “messenger” such as the Rabbi. And Rav Sha’ul implored the women not to go about with their head uncovered and distract the messenger of God be it a man or an angel.

I am so tired of the brazen negligence, lack of genuine concern and respect in this society on behalf of the women, where a woman deems it her “right” to wear immodest clothing; such as a halter top or mini-skirt, and claim it is not her problem if a guy lusts after her. This is a denial of the way God hardwired us as sexual beings. God made men visually stimulated and women emotionally stimulated. Please do not get me wrong, I am by no means excusing a man who may rape a woman partially because of the way she dresses. But let us liken it unto a person who goes out of doors without proper clothing and insect repellant in a known mosquito infested area and gets eaten alive. They only have themselves to blame because they could have covered themselves with the proper clothing and insect repellant but choose not to and the mosquitoes were just doing what they were hardwired to do, seek out blood and carry it back to their young.

In short and summary, Rav Sha’ul was dealing with a synagogue that was in the pagan city of Corinth, full of religious cross dressers and the congregation was mixed with Jew and Gentile believers and so as to respect tradition and have consistency within the synagogue, Rav Sha’ul instructed men and women to at least cover their heads in Shul. He was keeping with the 1st century, cultural and religious norm.

So we require proper head coverings for men and women in the synagogue and encourage it, but not require it for one’s everyday dealings outside the congregation. 

The Beard and Peyot

The Custom of wearing a beard (and not shaving the hair of the temples) is firmly rooted in the Torah: Leviticus 19:27; 21:5.  Yeshua Himself also wore a beard as He was obedient to His Father’s Commandments and was an observant Jew (Is.50:6).

In the same Scripture mentioned above, comes the tradition of “peyot,” or “side locks.”  The holy writ does not say to wear long, curly locks of hair hanging down from your temples.  It simply says not to “round the corner of your heads,” in other words, don’t shave smooth the hair of your temples.  This was and still is a custom of some pagan cults, and we are instructed by ADONAI in Leviticus 20:23 not to copy their ways, but to abhor them.  However, for the sake of “Glorifying a Precept,” some Jews, grow the locks of the temple a little longer, simply to manifest and glorify the observance of this Biblical injunction.  So long as the hair is not shaved down to the skin of the temple, it’s considered, “KOSHER.”

The Fringe
Another Biblical custom that I adhere to is the mitzvah (commandment) of the tzitzit, which is Hebrew for “fringe.” This is a series of white strings with one of blue thread, attached to the four corners of a poncho like garment, called a tallit katan, worn over or underneath my clothes.  Some
 “Messianics” have the idea to attach these to their belt loops.  This is not Scriptural, nor proper.  The Hebrew word is Karfay, CORNERS.  We are to attach them to the four corners of our garments.  The Hebrew word denotes literal 90-degree angled corners.  Last, I checked the waistline of a pair of pants, which has the belt loops is oval shaped and has no corners.  The strings are tied in a symbolic way depending upon the particular sect of Judaism you are affiliated with.  This again has its foundation in the Torah, Numbers 15:36-41.  The fringes serve as a reminder to the wearer of all the Commandments of ADONAI, and to keep them.  After all, ADONAI knows we are a forgetful people.  This can be likened to the modern-day custom some have of tying a string on their finger to remind themselves to do something.  This was the WWJD bracelet before Yeshua came, and before the WWJD bracelets were invented! 

I am reminded of a rabbinic tale of a Rabbi who was so infatuated with a prostitute and continually thought of ways to be with her. One day he hired her and as he was hastily casting off his clothes, his tzitzit whipped him across the face, reminding him he was about to commit a grave sin. He then apologized for wasting the woman’s time and told her to keep the money. She questioned the Rabbi, asking if she was not desirable to him or pleasing to him. He assured her that this was not the case, but that because of his tzitzit, he was reminded that what he was about to do was a sin before God. The prostitute was so impressed by this that she eventually quit her trade, converted to Judaism and ended up marrying that Rabbi.

I would like to quote extensive portions of an excellent article by Rabbi Levi bar Ido, called, “Why the Hassle over Tassels?”

 “One of the areas of Torah which a lot of groups reject today is the subject of wearing "fringes" or "tassels" attached to a four cornered garment. Even today only the Orthodox attempt to follow this Torah mitzvah, today and most of them disregard the mitzvah about the "blue thread” in the fringes.  Many Sacred Name groups and Messianics show contempt for this Torah mitzvah as ritualism and worthless and claim it has been abolished by the Renewed Covenant. Is this true?  The Word of God says:

  • "Again, ADONAI spoke to Moshe, saying, 'Speak to the children of Israel:  Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners.  And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the mitzvot of  ADONAI to do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your  own eyes are inclined, and that you may remember and do ALL My mitzvot, and be HOLY for your God.  I am ADONAI your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God:  I am ADONAI your God" (Numbers 15:37-41)…

 …Yeshua HaMoshiach (The Messiah), was a Yehudite (Jew), and lived a sinless life.  He set us the example of how we ought to live. Yochannon tells us:  "He who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk just as He walked" (I John 2:6).  Kepha adds that Messiah left "us an example, that you should follow His steps" (I Pet.2:21). Did Yeshua the Messiah, our template for living a holy life wear "fringes" on the corners of His garments? Let us find the answer:

  • "And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment.  For she said to herself, 'If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.'  But Yeshua turned around, and when He saw her He said, 'Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.'  And the woman was made well from that hour" (Matt.9:21-22).

The Jewish New Testament, by Dr. David Stern explains what the "hem" of Yeshua' garment was.

  • "A woman who had had a hemorrhage for twelve years approached him from behind and touched the tzitzit on his robe.  For she said to herself, 'If I can only touch his robe, I will be healed.'  Yeshua turned, saw her, and said, 'Courage, daughter!  Your trust has healed you."

The Book of Mark records the same event, but adds some features to the account:

  • ". . . a large crowd followed, pressing all around him.  Among them was a woman who had had an hemorrhage for twelve years and had suffered a great deal under many physicians.  She had spent her life savings; yet instead of improving, she had grown worse.  She had heard about Yahshua, so she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his robe; for she said, 'If I touch even his clothes, I will be healed.'  Instantly the hemorrhaging stopped, and she felt in her body that she had been healed from the disease.  At the same time, Yahshua, aware that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, 'Who touched my clothes?'  His talmidim [disciples] responded, 'You see the people pressing in on you; and still you asked, "Who touched me?"'  But he kept looking around to see who had done it.  The woman, frightened, and trembling, because she knew what had happened to her, came and fell down in front of him and told him the whole truth.  'Daughter,' he said to her, 'your trust has healed you. Go in peace, and be healed of your disease'" (Mark 5:24-34, JNT).

The Jewish New Testament Commentary explains:

  • "A woman who had . . . a hemorrhage approached him from behind and . . . touched his tzitzit.  She was in a state of ritual impurity because of her hemorrhage. She touched the holiest part of Yeshua’s garment. No wonder she approached from behind -- she was afraid; this is also why she hesitated to answer Yeshua’s question,’ Who touched my clothes?' (Mark 5:29-33).  For normally the impure defiles the pure (see Haggai 2:11-13; also the Talmud, Toharot).  But in this case, the opposite happened:  the purity of Yahshua the Messiah and of his tzitziyot ["tassels," or "fringes"] remained uncompromised, while instead the cause of the woman's impurity was instantly removed.  In the following incident, the raising of the dead girl, this principle is exemplified even more strongly, since Yahshua himself initiates contact with what is regarded in Judaism as the primary source of all impurity, a dead body (v.25) . . ." (comment on Matthew 9:20).

 These "tassels" were commanded by God in the Torah to be worn by His people, to remind them to keep His mitzvoth commandments.  They are in full view, and therefore would be a constant reminder of God's Torah.  Even today you can sometimes see the tassels hanging out over the belts of Yehudites (Jews) who wear a four-cornered undershirt, and pull the tassels to the outside of the garment.  These tassels are tied into knots, as a reminder of all 613 of the Torah’s of Moses (of which there are 248 prohibitions or negative commands, and 365 affirmations or positive commands).  The numerical value of the letters of the word tzitzit is 600; there are eight threads in each "fringe," and five knots; add these all up and you get 613, the number of Elohim's mitzvot.

Thread of Blue

 Each tzitzit was to have a blue thread (techelet) running through it.  During the Biblical period, blue was probably the most expensive color to produce.  It was generally reserved for kings and the very wealthy.  Historically, the only source for the blue was a small gland in the murex snail.  It took some 12,000 snails to fill up a thimble of blue dye.  In 200 B.C.E., one pound of cloth dyed blue cost the whopping sum of $36,000 in terms of today's American dollar.  By 300 C.E., the cost had soared to $96,000.  This indicates that Lydiyah (Lydia), mentioned in Acts as being a seller of purple, was a very wealthy lady (Acts 16:14).
   Why was each tassel inclusive of a thread of blue (techelet)?  Of the primary colors, "red" represents man (Adam's name was actually "red," for the red clay from which he was made).  "Blue" is the color representative of the heavens, and of God.  "Purple," the combination of "red" and "blue," is the color of the Messiah, Yeshua, and the coming King.  As God who became a man, He combined the two colors, forming His own color, "purple."

  Therefore, for each person to have blue in his tassels was symbolic of having something of the Divine -- a connection with God.  This served to remind each person not only of God's mitzvoth (commandments), but of their direct connection to God, as He said:  "I am ADONAI your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God.  I am the ADONAI your God" (Num.15:41).

 Such an expensive thread of blue would probably have been passed down from generation to generation, from father to son as one of his precious legacies. 

Symbol of the King

  The fringes, in a garment, were symbolical of his authority.  We find an interesting story in the book of I Shemuel, where David sneaks up on King Shaul in a cave at En Gedi, and cuts off his tassels (I Samuel 24:1-7).

  David's heart smote him because he knew that to cut off a king's tassels was stealing his authority, emasculating his spiritual connection with God, depriving him of his nobility.  At En Gedi, David had literally taken Shaul's "authority" and at that point he could probably have seized the throne over Israel.  But David chose not to do it, but to leave the timing in Elohim's hands.  After David prostrated himself before Shaul, showing him the tassel he had cut off his robe, Shaul was impressed with his charity and having his own life spared (I Samuel 24:17-20). 

 Another example of the "power" represented by a man's tassels is illustrated by the Book of Ruth.  In chapter three she goes to Boaz, her near kinsman, in the middle of the night, at the threshing floor, and lies down near him, sleeping at his feet.  He awoke with a start, and asked, "Who are you?"  Ruth replied:

  • "I am Ruth thine handmaid:  spread therefore thy skirt [Hebrew, "corner of thy garment"] over thine handmaid; for thou art a near kinsman" (Ruth 3:9). 

  The Hebrew word translated "skirt" here is kanaph and means "an edge or extremity," "of a garment or bed-clothing."  Thus this passage, obscured by English translations, refers to the fringes -- the tzitzit of Boaz's robe -- being cast over Ruth, symbolizing his taking her under his "authority," as in becoming her husband. 

 When the woman with the hemorrhage of blood therefore touched the "tassels" of Yeshua' garment, she was touching the symbol of His power and authority.  He noticed it when "power" went out of Him.  She was healed by this power, activated by her trust. 

The tzitzit are wrapped in tied in such a symbolic way. 5 knots representing the 5 books of the Law and the blue thread is wrapped in such a way as it symbolizes the Hebrew name of God (YHWH). So in essence, by faith she was grabbing onto and trusting in the Word and the Name of the LORD.

Wrong Use of Tzitziyot

 The fringes were commanded by God to be worn by Israel, to remind them of their connection to Him and of all of His mitzvot.  However, by the time of the Second Temple period some of the Yehudim had perverted them into signs of social status and piety.  The wealthier and holier you were, the longer your tassels.  During the time of Yeshua, the tassels of some of the Pharisees were so long that they dragged on the ground.
Yeshua rebuked this display of vanity, saying,

  • "They tie heavy loads onto people's shoulders but won't lift a finger to help carry them.  Everything they do is done to be seen by others; for they make their tefillin broad and their tzitziyot long, they love the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogue... (Matt.23:4-7, JNT).

    This passage in Matthew, therefore, should teach us that it is not wrong to wear "tassels" or "fringes" in our garments as commanded in the Torah.  However, we should not exaggerate them, making them "long," to draw attention to our supposed "holiness."
  The lesson for us is that it is important, in God's sight, that we perform God's mitzvoth (commandments) and to keep His Torah -- including the wearing of prayer shawls (tallitot) at the appropriate times, and the tzitziyot -- and to do so from sincerity of heart, in humility and loving obedience to God.  We should follow the example of the Messiah by "walking in His steps" (I Pet.2:21).  We should not be overly concerned with outward "appearances” or wear "tassels" to impress others with our righteousness.”

The Importance of Tzitzit

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.

Now I am not an expert, nor a scholar in eschatology. To be honest I am not totally sure exactly how it will all play out. Yet I am secure and confident in the generalities of eschatology, such as I am a Pre-Wrath / Post Tribulationist so to speak as opposed to pre-trib, etc. However, what I do know is that this prophetic passage is referring to a time when the Last Great Exodus occurs and God will bring the remnant of Israel back to the Land and there will be peace, the Temple will be rebuilt and all the fast days will turn into feast days. (Zech. 8:19) Thus, we can safely assume the Messiah will be on earth reigning from the Temple. For remember what Yeshua Ha Moshiach (The Messiah) said?

Matt. 9:14 Then came to him the disciples of John, saying, Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?
 15And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bride chamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.

So I know that there will be a Natsarim (Nazarene) Jewish revival. I know that Jews will not abandoned Judaism but will embrace the Judaism of Rebbe Yeshua Ha Moshiach (The Messiah) and will keep the Torah and the customs and traditions of Judaism as Yeshua did! I know that Zechariah Ha Navi (the Prophet) is not speaking of a Non-believing Jew here, but a Jew who believes in Yeshua as Messiah and still keeps the Torah. How else can 10 men grab onto the “skirt of a Jew” referring to the Tzitzit of his garment, which is commanded by ADONAI for one to put on the 4 corners of his garment, if the Torah has been done away with and Christ has replaced Judaism with what is known today as Christianity!? No my friend, the Torah is everlasting, and Yeshua did not come to start a new religion, but to bring fullness to the original one (Matt. 5) and the Holy One, Blessed be He, expects His followers, Jew and Gentile to keep and follow His Torah.

There is only one Law, One Torah; there is not a double standard where there is one Torah for the Jews and One for the Gentile (Ex. 12:49)!

So is Tzitzit important? IS this Commandment still relevant for us today? YES! You had better believe it!

Most everyone knows about the big “prayer shawls” worn by Jewish men during prayer, so I will not go into that. 

The Sign: Tefillin

At home or at the Synagogue, you may see me wear tefillin.  Which are little black boxes fastened to the forehead and arm by leather straps.  Traditionally they are worn only in the mornings and weekdays.  But I choose to wear them any chance I get!  There is something very “connecting” about it.  The tallit and tefillin really produce a sense of intimacy with ADONAI.  This too has its foundations in the Torah: Deuteronomy 6:5-9; 11:13-21.  The Hebrew word for “sign” means a literal, physical, outward, tangible sign.  Just recently, there was found a set of Tefillin, which dated back to, of all times, the first century!  And wouldn’t you know that they are almost identical to the ones we Jews wear today.  It is not recorded in Scripture, but almost a given, that if these existed back in Yeshua’s time, which they did, then it is safe to assume that He wore them too.  After all, we have already established He was Torah observant, and since this is a command and this was the established way of fulfilling it, then Yeshua probably wore tefillin.  What a privilege to do the very things my Messiah did, to wear what He wore, to eat the way He ate, to pray the way He prayed!

The Gartel

At times, mostly on Shabbat, you may see me wear a gartel.  A Gartel is a Yiddish word for a rope like belt or sash worn around the waist during prayers or ceremonial acts.  This gartel, or sash, represents a SEPARATION between the heart and sexual organs.  Ever heard the expression, “So and So’s mind is always below the belt”?  The gartel is a physical reminder that we are supposed to separate our heart from our carnal, sinful instincts.  It has been said, “You’re sexual organs do not have a conscience.”  So this sash that’s wrapped around me is telling me, “Hey, keep your heart in tune with ADONAI.”  There are numerous passages in Scripture that mention the gartel, but the King James Version uses the term, “girdle.”  In Exodus chapters 28-39, it speaks of the priests wearing them.  And, in Jeremiah 13, ADONAI prophecies to Jeremiah about Judah, using his girdle as an example.  John the Baptist wore one (Matt.3:4), Rav Sha’ul (the Apostle Paul) wore a girdle, too. (Acts 21:11)  Yeshua WEARS a girdle in Revelation 1:13!  It is a Biblical and Beautiful custom.

Good Guys Wear Black

Wearing black is not just a Jewish custom, but a Christian one as well.  Have you ever heard of a “preacher’s coat”?  It was a long black coat, much like the Chassidic Jews wear today.  The early “circuit riding preachers” wore them, Amish and Mennonite preachers wear them, as well as Catholic priests. The congregation I used to attend in Ohio was in the midst of a Mennonite and Amish community and when they would see my Rabbi, who dressed virtually just like them, would wave because they at first glance though he was one of them.

Black in Judaism is the “color of severity,” or, a color representing reverence.  The wearer of black is tied to the Jewish concept of “Yirat Shamaiyim,” or, the “Reverence of Heaven.” It also is linked to mourning for the destruction of the Temple. In the late 1700’s in Europe, practically EVERYBODY dressed in the long, usually black suit coats, of what is now distinctive garb of the Chassidim.  As time went on, fashion changed, [often times, the fashion changed the people]; however, the Chassidim continued to adhere to their traditional MODEST dress, until this very day.

This way of dress tells the world, “I’m DIFFERENT; I’m part of a Holy People.”  Holy means to be separate set apart for Elohim (God).  It’s kind of like a uniform.  When you see a police officer, a mail carrier, or a chef, you know who they are and what they do by the way they dress.  Similarly, with a Jew, when people see the kippah, tzitzit, beard, peyote, and black coat, they know who he is and whom he represents.

Rabbi, Who Can Where Tzitzit, Tefillin, Blow the Shofar and Study Talmud?

I have been asked these questions and I will probably receive slack from other Rabbis on the side that I fall in these matters.

Rabbis and Sages of the Talmud, and the current Orthodox understanding is that only men are obligated to do these things. However, according to Torah, these things are not necessarily forbidden for women to do, but they should not feel obligated to do these things for they may distract and interfere with their motherly and wifely responsibilities. Most of the commandments regarding these issues speak of the word “Men” as we would say, “Mankind” obviously meant to include women. Many other times a mitzvah is worded such as, “ADONAI told Moshe to command B’ney Yisrael (the Children of Israel)… Thus including both genders to participate and fulfill the commandment. I know that Rashi’s daughter wore tzitzit and even studied Torah and Talmud and drashed with permission from her father. A Rabbi Judah’s (of Talmud fame) wife was recorded as wearing tzitzit on her apron.

So if a woman wants to wear tzitzit, wear tefillin, blow the shofar or study Talmud, I see no problem as long as it doesn’t interfere with her God given commandments and responsibilities as a wife and a mother.

So Why Do You Dress That Way?

Much of what I wear is specifically commanded in the Torah, by ADONAI, Himself.  Some of it is simply traditional, with its roots and reasoning in the Torah, so I feel personally convicted and compelled to keep.  It helps me feel and stay connected to the Torah, and to my Jewish heritage.

So now, you know why I dress that way.
Another resource on learning about tradition, ceremony, customs and dress, from a Believers perspective is:

·       God’s Appointed Customs by Barney Kasdan