The Tzitzit and the Law

“For behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled.” -3 Nephi 4:47b RAV, 9:17b OPV

To Christian’s, Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection marked the end of the Law of Moses. Yet many Latter Day Saints, Mormons, and other Christians of all backgrounds still argue over the relevance of the Law today. For Mormon Kabbalists, the Law is two fold: the spiritual and the practical. For us, the spirit of the Law is now alive in Christ.

Ancient Customs

“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” -Galatians 6:2

The Law of Moses is dead in that we do not need to go to priests or sacrifice animals for salvation. In truth, these never actually had real saving power. It was our willingness to give up the best of what we had in similitude of Jesus’ sacrifice that had the power. That is to say, it was and is our faith that make us whole, as humanity, in the times before Jesus just as they were in the times after.

Peter said to the original Church of Christ:

“Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” -1 Peter 2:9

In ancient times, people didn’t have papers or ID cards. Their clothing were decorated to show an individual’s identity and status. The hem and tassels of the outer robes they wore were particularly important. The hem was symbolic of the wearer’s identity and their authority. Tassels were a sign of nobility in ancient times.

The Tzitzit

“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying: Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them a tassel on the hems of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the tassel of the borders a twine of blue: And it shall be unto you for a tzitzit, 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, after which ye use to go a whoring: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.” -Numbers 15:37-40

The tzitzit communicated the idea that the Israelites were wearing a “royal robe.” This marked them as God’s chosen people. Back then this would have been a glaring statement to the nations around them, seeing citizens wearing symbols of royalty on their clothing. And, blue thread was a reminder of the blue robes of the priests. The commandment not to mix wool and linen was deliberately ignored here because it reminded everyone of their priestly status being a part of Israel. The tzitzit was an ID literally reminding them of their status as a royal priesthood, just as Peter points out in his Epistle.

Modern Days

This commandment to wear a tassel, called a tzitzit (pronounced ZEET-zeet) is still observed today by many orthodox Jewish men and women. Some tuck them under their shirts, reminiscent of the Latter-day Saints’ garments with the temple symbols sewn onto their underwear. Others might tie them to their belts or attach them in some other way to their outer clothing. Some have them attached to prayer shawls called a tallit, just as the Lord has asked the High Priests and High Priestesses to do within the Fellowship.

What then of us today, the Latter Day Saints? Those alive when Jesus, Peter, and Paul walked the earth were the generation chosen and prepared to receive the higher Law, the Law of Christ. We are the generation chosen in the Last Days to be the royal priesthood, holy nation, and peculiar people of God. We may understand 1 Peter 2:9 recited above as day one of Teshuvah we are called to divide the darkness from the light inside us, and that light then comes pouring out to transform the world.

Marriage and Grace

Our relationship with God is like a marriage. So much so that Christ compares himself to a groom and us, the Church, His bride. We see this theme throughout the scriptures. Traditionally, we exchange rings when we wed. We look at the ring, and it is a reminder of our covenant with our spouse, and together with God. The tzitzit is very much like the ring. It is a reminder of our covenant with God through Jesus Christ.

Just as we are building a relationship in a marriage, we are building a relationship with God through Teshuvah as we grow in Grace. Some people wear a cross to remind them of this, others jewelry or other symbols, others sets of clothing. The tzitzit is a method the Lord gave us through the mouth of his prophet, Moses.

Tzitzit and the Fellowship

What then does the tzitzit have to do with us? Should all members of the Church of Christ wear them in some way? I’ve had a few people talk to me about this. It should be understood that this is a nondenominational movement. No one is going to force anyone to do or wear anything. If one doesn’t feel called by the Lord to wear them, this is perfectly acceptable. We’re not going to judge anyone. This is Christ’s Fellowship, and it is about love and acceptance. We’re all brothers and sisters in Christ. One should prayerfully determine if and how they will fulfill this commandment. And, if one needs counsel, our doors are always open.

That said, anyone moved by the Spirit should wear the tzitzit. Members may wear them on or under their clothing. Ministry may have them sewn to their garments. Anyone may wear them on or with a tallit. Do some research, pray, work as moved by the Spirit. It should be noted that all that hold any office of the priesthood may wear the tallit, but only the High Priests and High Priestesses should forgo the other head coverings for the prayer shawl.

A Prayer

While there is no commandment to pray before putting on the tallit, it is customary to do so in Judaism. The following is a recommended prayer based on this tradition:

Blessed are you the Lord, our God
Sovereign of all
Who has sanctified us with your Law
And commanded us to wrap ourselves in its fringes.

Or in phonetic Hebrew:

Baruch atah YHVH Elohim
Eloheinu melech ha olam
Asher kidishanu b’mitzvotav
Vitzivanu l’hitatef b’tzitzit.

Our growth in grace is a journey. The pilgrimage to Zion we are journeying together begins in our hearts. It will spread from us to the whole earth. A variety of task have been given to us because the Lord has faith in us, he knows we are up to the challenge. The tzitzit is a reminder not only of our covenants with God, but His faith in us as well. He has given us resources and tools to help along the way. And, we’re not alone. God has sent angels, the Holy Spirit, and others to assist us. There will be a way because God is making the way.

Main Image: פתיל תכלת by דוידוד.

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