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Saturday, November 13, 2021

Lessons from the Wilderness, Volume 42: Today, we begin a discussion on Halakah, our walk, and how we as Messianic believers must show a humbleness for the customs of our Jewish Brethren

 

©2021, David E. Robinson: At the Gates of Yerushalayim Ministries

 

Lessons from the Wilderness, Volume 42

Halakah, Part 1… the Tallit Gadol…

The Great Shawl [i] [ii] [iii] [iv]


Luke 8:42b-48

…As Jesus went, the people spressed around him. 43 And there was a woman twho had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her uliving on physicians,6 she could not be healed by anyone. 44 She came up behind him and touched vthe fringe of his garment, and wimmediately her discharge of blood ceased. 45 And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter7 said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that xpower has gone out from me.47 And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. 48 And he said to her, “Daughter, yyour faith has made you well; ygo in peace.[v]

Today I will begin a new series on Halakah, or the way to walk. The topic I have chosen to start with is a simple explanation of the Tallit and Tzitzit (and for those who read me regularly you know it will be anything but simple, lol). Before we go there, let us take another look at this incident, only this time in Mark’s Gospel:

Mark 5:24-34 (NET® Bible)

5:24 Jesus35 went with him, and a large crowd followed and pressed around him.

5:25 Now36 a woman was there who had been suffering from a hemorrhage37 for twelve years.38 5:26 She had endured a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet instead of getting better, she grew worse. 5:27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak,39 5:28 for she kept saying,40 “If only I touch his clothes, I will be healed.”41 5:29 At once the bleeding stopped,42 and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 5:30 Jesus knew at once that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?5:31 His disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing against you and you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 5:32 But43 he looked around to see who had done it. 5:33 Then the woman, with fear and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came, and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 5:34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well.44 Go in peace and be healed of your disease.” [vi] (Jesus/Yeshua’s) words in red for clarity-Author)

 

        As noted in the endnotes, this incident can also be found in Matthew 9:18-26, but we will use these two for the basis of discussion. First, a bit of explanation of how Yeshua might have been dressed, this from the Lexham Bible Dictionary: 

… “Outer Garments. The most common outer garment of this time was the cloak (ἱμάτιον, himation). Cloaks were generally rectangular in shape—which distinguished them from the toga and other kinds of Roman outer garments—and were available in different sizes. Cloaks could be worn draped around the body and/or over the shoulder without being fastened (Cleland et al., Greek and Roman Dress, 92). The Gospels describe people taking off their cloaks when working in the field (Mark 13:16), approaching Jesus (Mark 10:50), and welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem (Mark 11:7–8). Some cloaks had fringes, as seen in Jesus’ cloak (κράσπεδον, kraspedon; Matt 9:20) and those of Pharisees (κράσπεδον, kraspedon; and φυλακτήριον, phylaktērion; Matt 23:5) …” [vii] 

So, let us surmise that in Jesus’s time, He wore as an outer garment a cloak. Being rectangular in shape would have given Him four corners onto which were tied the Tzitziot (plural form). I must also conjecture that the cloak did not extend to the ground, as that would have made His Tzitziot drag on the ground, something He would not do, for it would show disrespect to the commandment to wear the Tzitzit:

 Bəmīḏbar (בְּמִדְבַּר, literally "In the desert [of]") – 15:37-41

[Numbers 15:37-41] Tanakh]

37The Lord said to Moses as follows:

38Speak to the Israelite people and instruct them to make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments throughout the ages; let them attach a cord of blue to the fringe at each corner. 39That 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. 40Thus you shall be reminded to observe all My commandments and to be holy to your God.

41I the Lord am your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I, the Lord your God.[viii]

                 Again, when we surmise what Yeshua wore, it is not the images we see in art or in movies. He might have dressed like this:

 


Figure 1: https://images.theconversation.com/files/204866/original/file-20180205-19937-1kc98g3.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&q=45&auto=format&w=600&h=819&fit=crop&dpr=1

The short tunic he most likely wore was in keeping with his background: a carpenter used to manual labor. The tunic was short, knee length or slightly below to allow for movement in this type of work. His cloak might have been wore as shone, or it could have fitted over his head and tied with a sash about the waist. What He would not have dressed like is this:


 For one, his outer garment would not have been long. How do we know this?


Mark 12:38-40(NASB)

38           aIn His teaching He was saying: “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes [στολή;  Transliteration: Stole or Phonetic: stol-ay'][ix], and like brespectful greetings in the marketplaces, 39 and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, 40 awho devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation.”[x]

In the time of Yeshua/Jesus[xi], it was the wealthy men who would don long robes on special occasions, or to show off their status in public. Thus, the scorn Yeshua spoke of in Mark 12:38-40 tends us to believe He did not wear the stolai.[xii] ( [xiii])

On another note, we can also deduce that Yeshua did not have long hair (see 1 Corinthians 11:14), but He did most likely wear a beard (Leviticus 19:27, 21:5). We are so used to seeing the Byzantine depictions of our Lord, that we do not even try to see him as He really was; a Semitic Jew. Maybe He resembled one of these:

 Figure 2 ©Rendition by Akiane Kramarik




  

 or this: 

               

                         Figure 3 ©Rendition by Bas Uterwijk


Now, what I know is this: He looks like no image we have ever seen. Isaiah stated it thus:

Isaiah 53:1-2 (NASB95)

1     aWho has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

2     For He grew up before Him like a atender 1shoot, and like a root out of parched ground; He has bno stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should 2be attracted to Him. [xiv]

3     He was adespised and forsaken of men, a man of 1sorrows and bacquainted with 2grief; And like one from whom men hide their face. He was cdespised, and we did not desteem Him. [xv]

 

 What a glorious day it will be to stand before Him face to face. I say this with all humility, that I am not worthy enough to gaze upon His face, yet I long for that day. What I want to show is that He is not white, with long blonde hair and blue eyes. He would be of olive-toned skin, or perhaps he is as depicted here:

Figure 4 ©"Father forgive them" by Alix Beaujour

Was Yeshua black? Do any of us really know? Would it make a difference to you? He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords… We divide each other, through class, race, gender, and ethnicity: we want Him to look like us or we want Him to fit our lifestyle and habits. You can see Him drawn by every race, every creed, and nationality. Yet how many of us want to be like Him? How many of us do what He says, live like He directed? He did no more than His Father told Him to do. He said no more than His Father instructed Him to do. Yes, you might say, what does this have to do with the Tallit!?!

Nothing. Everything.[xvi]

                The Law of God, or better, the Torah, is what our Master lived by. It was how He was raised, how His family lived, and what He taught. So, I ask the question again: how many of us want to be like Him?

                I want to lovingly voice a caution here. When Gentiles (meaning non-Jews) come to the root of their faith, the Torah and the Tanakh, they desire to emulate their Jewish/Israelite brethren. They adopt the kippah[xvii], the Tallit[xviii], the Tzitzit[xix]. They may or may not eat kosher (which depends on how far they want to take their faith), they might even adopt the Tefillin[xx]. But do they do this out of love and respect for HaShem, and do so with the fullness of their heart, or is it because they think it is, well, for lack of a better word, “stylish”?

                There is a lesson here. We, as Gentile believers in Messiah Yeshua and the Torah, must remember we are not Jewish. In this age of those that scream about cultural appropriation, any follower that comes into Messianic Judaism should recognize that there are protocols involved in adopting the Jewish ways. I am talking about respect and consideration for the faith that delivered once for all – and for the covenant people it was given to. Remember, the Scriptures were not written to us, but they were written for us. We must be cognizant of this basic fact. It is the Hebraic perspective of life that must first be adopted before we can even begin to think about the wearing of the Tzitziyot or the Tallit or anything else.

                It has been said, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but imitation for the sake of imitation is only an insult to those who have practiced their faith for thousands of years. The Hebrew faith, what we call Judaism, has gone through cycles of change, adapting, and surviving in times of trouble and terrors; for that reason alone, we must approach it with a humbleness and consideration that speaks to honor the sacrifices that the Jewish people have had to withstand over the past, and which occur even to this present age. We cannot don the items that represent a faith if we do it causally, or carelessly: this only adds insult to injury. For an observant Jew, even his own Talmud and Mishnah say a Gentile should not be taught the Torah as seen from this article from the Jerusalem Post:

“…In contemporary society, non-Jews learn Jewish texts in many forums, including university classrooms and Internet sites.

Sometimes this study occurs even without Jewish instruction, such as in South Korea, where schoolchildren study a selection of Talmudic stories. This phenomenon is the latest development in the historical discussion regarding the propriety of teaching Torah to non-Jews.

The Torah states, “Moses has commanded us the Torah, an inheritance for the community of Jacob” (Deuteronomy 33:4). Deeming this inheritance, the exclusive property of Jews, the sages prohibited gentiles from learning Torah and Jews from teaching it to them. A strident prohibition was also expressed in the Zohar.

While the Talmud elsewhere mentions that non-Jews were taught Torah, some of those cases were clearly under the coercive pressure of the dominant rulers.

Scholars have offered various rationales for the Talmudic prohibition, which broadly impacted its scope. Based on Talmudic exegesis, some scholars understood any non-Jewish study as a betrayal of the unique bond between Jews and God or a misappropriation of national treasure, with a few even contending that this included potential converts who had not yet joined the nation. Some went so far as to ban teaching the Hebrew alphabet, although other sources indicated that this was a pragmatic step to prevent polemical abuses by hostile anti-Semites. In a similarly polemical vein, one medieval source suggested that gentiles can learn the Prophets and Hagiography (Writings) because its prophecies prove that God has not abandoned the Jewish people.

Yet most scholars limited the prohibition in one form of another. The Talmud itself contends that gentiles may learn material necessary to properly observe the seven Noahide laws. In this spirit, Rabbi David Tzvi Hoffman argued that one may teach non-Jews the narrative portions of the Torah which will inspire belief in the grandeur of God. Beyond that, rabbis Naftali Berlin and Tzvi Hirsch Chajes contended that the prohibition only applies to aspects of the Oral Law but not to the written Scriptures.

Alternatively, Rabbi Samuel Eidels argued that the prohibition only included the “reasons and secrets” of the Torah but not the basic texts or laws, with Rabbi Eliyahu Mizrahi further contending that the prohibition could be waived if one cannot extract oneself from a situation without discussing that information…”[xxi]

                So, if the study of the Torah itself by Gentiles seems problematic, think about how watching Gentiles wear the Tallit, Tzitziyot, or the Tefillin affect the faithful Jew. One writer puts it this way:

“When I was studying biblical counseling at a conservative Baptist seminary five years ago, a student invited me to a Passover Seder on campus. I was reluctant to respond because the student was a Messianic Judaism major, and the Seder was being hosted by his department. My relationship with this student was already fraught because we had major theological disagreements — often in the middle of lecture — about whether or not the Messianic movement was a branch of Judaism, or a denomination of Christianity. His position was the former: mine the latter.

Because he already purchased a ticket in my name, I agreed to attend the Seder and tried to keep an open mind about it. But the truth was, despite embracing the Christian faith in college, a sizeable part of me felt defensive about my Jewish traditions. I knew that an event that treated the bowl of salt water as the tears Christ shed on the cross, rather than the tears shed by the Jews when they were slaves in Egypt, wasn’t really a Seder in any traditional sense. If it were called a “Last Supper Commemoration Ceremony,” or “Good Friday Service,” I would have felt differently — but words mean things, and a Seder this was not.

This is just one of the ways that many Christian groups think they are honoring Judaism and the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. But as someone with one foot in both worlds — a Christian with Jewish identity — honor is not what it feels like. Rather, it comes off as exploitative.

The Christian faith has plenty going for it by its own merit: a personal God who loved his creation so much that he came down to earth in the flesh, offered himself up as a sacrifice for our sins, and promised redemption from a cruel world. There’s no need to denigrate Judaism by manipulating its rituals or presenting caricatures of what they look like in practice…”[xxii]


               Now, to be fair, there are differing opinions in the Jewish community, both positive and negative. For the Messianic believer though, it is always proper to put our best face forward and do nothing that would bring dishonor to God, Yeshua, and our Jewish brethren by acting in an inappropriate way.

                I have just touched on the basics of Halakah, our walk. Next post, I will speak to these subjects again, but to keep the post brief, let us stop here.

May HaShem, blessed forever is His name, richly bless you all, my beloved.

Amein

 


Endnotes:

 [i]NOTICE OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS: Unless otherwise cited, all material found on this blogsite (original text, opinions, conclusions, and other material not related to cited sources remains the collected intellectual property of the author of this site, David E. Robinson, Elder, Teacher, and are owned and controlled by myself and are protected by copyright and trademark laws and various other intellectual property rights and unfair competition laws of the United States, foreign jurisdictions, and international conventions. Any errors found within, rest solely upon me; please do not blame the Father for my mistakes. I am teachable and correctable, not infallible. 😊

[ii] FAIR USE DISCLAIMER: This blog site may contain content that is not authorized for use by its owner. All such material will be cited back to its original source. According to Section 107 of the Copyright Act: “…the fair use of a copyrighted work […] for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright…” I have made and will continue to make every effort to stay within all ethical and moral guidelines in the use of material presented here, and the use of these materials is solely intended for educational purposes only, and all efforts to obtain or sustain fair use of non-owned material will be made.

 [iii] Author’s note: This site is for education only and is not affiliated with any institution, organization, or religious group. It is the sole production of its editor. Use of information from Jewish-themed websites (or any other source material) should not be construed as these sites endorsing or confirming any thesis introduced by the author of this epistle. I present the information from their respective sites for instructional purposes only and/or to aid in the readers understanding of the subjects discussed.

 [iv] Author’s note:  Throughout this study I may be using the NET Bible® and the NET Notes®: within the notes you will see symbols like this: (א B Ψ 892* 2427 sys). These are abbreviations used by the NET Bible® for identifying the principal manuscript evidence that they (authors and translators of the NET Bible®) used in translating the New Testament. Please go to https://bible.org/netbible/ and see their section labeled “NET Bible Principals of Translation” for a more complete explanation on these symbols and other items pertinent to the way the NET Bible uses them.

 s ver. 45; Mark 3:9

t Lev. 15:25

u ch. 21:4; Mark 12:44

6 Some manuscripts omit and though she had spent all her living on physicians

v Matt. 14:36; 23:5; [Num. 15:38, 39; Deut. 22:12]

w Matt. 15:28; 17:18

7 Some manuscripts add and those who were with him

x ch. 5:17; 6:19; [Acts 10:38]

y See ch. 7:50

y See ch. 7:50

36 tn Grk “And.” Here καί (kai) has been translated as “now” to indicate the transition to a new topic.

37 tn Grk “a flow of blood.”

38 sn This story of the woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years is recounted in the middle of the story about Jairus’ daughter. Mark’s account (as is often the case) is longer and more detailed than the parallel accounts in Matt 9:18–26 and Luke 8:40–56. Mark’s fuller account may be intended to show that the healing of the woman was an anticipation of the healing of the little girl.

39 tn Grk “garment,” but here ἱμάτιον (himation) denotes the outer garment in particular.

40 tn The imperfect verb is here taken iteratively, for the context suggests that the woman was trying to muster up the courage to touch Jesus’ cloak.

41 tn Grk “saved.”

sn In this pericope the author uses a term for being healed (Grk “saved”) that would have spiritual significance to his readers. It may be a double entendre (cf. parallel in Matt 9:21 which uses the same term), since elsewhere he uses verbs that simply mean “heal“: If only the reader would “touch” Jesus, he too would be “saved.”

42 tn Grk “the flow of her blood dried up.”

sn The woman was most likely suffering from a vaginal hemorrhage, in which case her bleeding would make her ritually unclean.

43 tn Grk “And.” Here καί (kai) has been translated as “but” to indicate the contrast present in this context.

44 tn Or “has delivered you”; Grk “has saved you.” This should not be understood as an expression for full salvation in the immediate context; it refers only to the woman’s healing.

·         End “NET®” notes

 [vi] Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical Studies Press, 2005), Mk 5:24–34.

[vii] Janghoon Park, “Clothing,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

[viii] Jewish Publication Society, Tanakh: The Holy Scriptures (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1985), Nu 15:37–41.

a Mark 12:38–40: Matt 23:1–7; Luke 20:45–47

[ix] an equipment in clothes, clothing

a.       spec. a loose outer garment for men extending to the feet, worn by kings, priests, and persons of rank. Definition from the BTSCTVM Concordance, E-sword® electronic edition, ©2000-2021 Rick Myers

b Matt 23:7; Luke 11:43

a Luke 20:47

[x] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Mk 12:38–40.

[xi] From this point on, I will refer to Jesus with His Hebraic name “Yeshua”. In biblical passages, if it says Jesus in the quote, it is because I won’t alter the text; but His name is Yeshua (Y'shua (ישוע‎ with vowel pointing יֵשׁוּעַ‎ – Yēšūaʿ in Hebrew; alternative form of the name יְהוֹשֻׁעַ‎ (YəhōšūaʿJoshua))

[xiii] For a more detailed look at the types of clothing worn, see the discussions at: https://www.biblicalcyclopedia.com/D/dress.html or at https://www.internationalstandardbible.com/D/dress.html .

a  John 12:38; Rom 10:16

a  Is 11:1

1  Lit suckling

b  Is 52:14

2  Lit desire

[xiv]  New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

 a  Ps 22:6; Is 49:7; Luke 18:31–33

1  Or pains

b  Is 53:10

2  Or sickness

c  Mark 10:33, 34

d  John 1:10, 11

[xv]  New American Standard Bible : 1995 update. 1995. LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

 [xvi] From the movie “The Kingdom of Heaven”, a 2005 historical epic directed by Ridley Scott. At the end of the movie, Balian (Orlando Bloom) asks what the city of Jerusalem is worth. Saladin’s (Ghassan Massoud) response is "Nothing" turns around and walks towards his camp, then turns back around to face Balian and says "Everything" with a smile on his face, and then returns to his camp.

 [xvii] “…A kippah (skullcap or yarmulke) is a small hat or head covering. In traditional Jewish communities only, men wear kippot (the plural of kippah) and they are worn at all times (except when sleeping and bathing)… It is considered a sign of reverence for God.” (See What Is A Kippah? | My Jewish Learning ).

 [xviii] “…A tallit (also called tallit gadol or by its Yiddish name, tallis) is a Jewish prayer shawl worn by men and women during morning prayer services and on the Sabbath and on holidays. They are used to prepare the mind and heart for prayer and inspire elation and reverence for God…” (See the article Symbolism of the Tallit (jewishgiftplace.com) )

 [xix] The word tzitzit (צִיצִית) is literally defined as “fringes,” and refers to the strings attached to the corners of the tallit, the Jewish prayer shawl. The eight strings and five knots are a physical representation of the Torah's 613 mitzvahs. (See What Is Tzitzit (and Tallit)? - Mitzvahs & Traditions (chabad.org) )

 [xx] “…Tefillin is one of the most important Mitzvot (precepts) of the Torah. It has been observed and treasured for thousands of years, right down to the present day. The Torah mentions it more than once, but most explicitly in Deut. 6:8 "And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for ornaments between your eyes." Tefillin consists of two small leather boxes attached to leather straps. The two boxes each contain four sections of the Torah inscribed on parchment…” (See Tefillin and Its Significance - Tefillin (chabad.org) )

[xxi] Ask the rabbi: May a Jew teach Torah to a gentile? - The Jerusalem Post (jpost.com) by Shlomo Brody, online version published July 12, 2012. The writer, online editor of Tradition and its blog, Text & Texture (text.rcarabbis.org), teaches at Yeshivat Hakotel.