A Tallit or Tallis, meaning cloak, is the prayer shawl that is worn by Jewish men during a religious observance. It is described in Numbers 15:37-40 and Deuteronomy 22:12. Fringes, known as tzitzit, are to be placed on the four ends of the garment with a blue ribbon. This blue color called, tekhelet, is to be the same color as the blue sky. This is to remind the Jewish people that their origin comes from heaven and to act accordingly. The fringes were to remind the children of Israel of their 613 laws and especially the commandments. The tzitzit are secured by a shamash (“longer strand”) in a pattern of 7-8-11-13 winds between double knots. In all, there are 5 double knots. In Jewish numerology, known as Gematria, the 7 and 8 equal 15. This is equal to the numerical value of the hebrew letters yod and heh (“Y” and “H”). 11 is equal to vav and heh (“V” and “H”). Together they spell God’s name YHVH. 13 is equal to the letters Alef, Chet, dalet or the Hebrew word Echad which means One. Thus, Yahveh is one. When the Hebrew letters for Tzitzit are used it adds up to 600. Add eight strands of fringes and five knots which equals 613, the number of laws given in the Torah.
Numbers 16:39 states, “And when you see them, you shall remember all of God’s commandments so as to keep them.”
The neckband, known as an atarah, designates which part of the tallit is to be worn around the shoulders. It is usually accompanied by an inscribed blessing. For those who do not believe the messiah has come, it would read:
“Baruch atoh Adonai Elohenu melekh ha’olam asher kiddeshanu bemitsvotav vetsivanu lehi-tattef batsitsit”
This signifies that the commandments sanctify, if obeyed, and commands that the tzitzit be worn to remind one to observe all the laws. For those who believe the Messiah has come, their atarah can include
“Baruch atoh Adonai Elohenu melekh ha’olam asher milla et kol hatorah biYeshua Hamashiach ikissa et kulanu vetsedkato”
Blessed are you O Lord King of the universe who has fulfilled all of the law through Yeshua the Messiah and have covered us with His righteousness. In the Gospel of Matthew, Yeshua criticized the Pharisees
“All their works they do to be seen by men: they make broad their phylacteries and enlarge the borders of their garments.” (Matthew 23:5)
In the Tenakh and New Covenant, the Tallit can also be translated as skirt, garment, and mantle. When worn it became a tent for the body, a type of tabernacle. In the Book of Acts, we learn that the Pharisee Saul of Tarsus, the Apostle Paul, made tents. Perhaps the tents he made were Tallit. What does the New Covenant say about the Tallit?
“they besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole.” (Matthew 14:35-36; Mark 6:56)
In Matt 9: 20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-48 we see people touching the Tzitzit of the Tallit and are healed. For sure the command to wear the Tallit was for the people of the Mosaic Covenant. So there is no compulsion placed upon the believers in the Messiah. Yeshua wore it, however. Those who touched it while he wore it were healed. In the Book of Matthew, we are told where two or three people gather in His name, He is in the midst of them. Yeshua also admonishes us to pray in secret. Although we are under grace, the tallit can be worn by a believer in the Jewish messiah during a convocation, i.e., a gathering of believers and in private prayer. When it is used to glorify God it can help one stay focused on the Messiah, who also wore the Tallit, it can help one remain prayerful, and when used as a tent, or Atarah, covering the head, it reminds us that we are surrounded and protected by His loving embrace and the wings of His heavenly angels.