We got an email today from a brother in Norway asking the following question, “Should I wear Tzitzit, Tallit, or a Kippah?” Here is our reply:
Great question! If you believe that you are Israel (and we believe we are Israel), then all of the commandments that apply to you should be obeyed if possible.
Some commandments don’t apply to you (e.g. those to women, priests/Levites, kings) and some cannot be followed currently due to a lack of a physical temple and a proper Levitical priesthood.
But an example of a commandment that can be followed is the wearing of tzitzit (tzitzit is singular, the plural is tzitziote). Here’s a couple of verses:
Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying, 38 “Speak to the Israelites, and tell them to make for themselves tassels on the hems of their garments throughout their generations and to put a blue cord on the tassel of the hem. 39 You will have a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commands of Yahweh and do them, and not follow after the unfaithfulness of your own heart and eyes, 40 so that you will remember and do all my commandments, and you will be holy for your God.
You shall make tassels for yourselves on the four corners of your clothing with which you cover yourself.
And they do all their deeds in order to be seen by people, for they make their phylacteries broad and make their tassels long.
Note that the criticism Yeshua makes in Matthew 23:5 is about making your tassels long to be seen by men, not against wearing them. The fact that he criticizes how they wear them makes it clear that they should be wearing them correctly.
So my wife & I wear tzitziote. Some branches of Judaism teach that women do not need to wear them (and/or should not wear them). We don’t see that in Scripture, but we don’t argue about it either way.
A tallit (prayer shawl) is simply a way of fulfilling the commandment to wear the tassels. Some within Judaism wear an undergarment with tassels called a tallit katan (little tallit). Many who do not wear the tallit kattan wear a traditional tallit instead when praying during services in order to fulfill the commandment to wear the tassels. As far as I know, it is unique within the Messianic/Hebrew Roots Movement to wear tassels attached to your belt loops. In all instances, the goal is to fulfill the commandment to wear the tassels.
Finally, with regard to the kippah (yarmulke or skull cap), it is tradition for Jewish men to cover their heads, especially while praying. It is not a commandment, so for me, it’s optional. I do not personally wear one but I have no problem with anyone wearing one.
Hope this helps!
So that was our answer to the question, “Should I wear Tzitzit, Tallit, or a Kippah?” In summary, wearing the tzitzit is a commandment that we can and should do. We can do so using a tallit or tallit katan, or by attaching tzitziote to our belt loops. Wearing a kippah is a tradition that you can choose to do or not.
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