[The following is an excerpt from an article on www.wikipedia.com]

The Torah states in Numbers 15:38: "Speak to the children of Israel and you shall say to them that they shall make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments, throughout their generations, and they shall affix a thread of blue (Hebrew: תכלת - tekhelet) on the fringe of each corner."

Tzitzit are also commanded in Deuteronomy 22:12, which says: "You shall make yourself twisted threads, on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself." Tzitzit are attached today only to Jewish religious garments, such as a tallit gadol (large prayer shawl). This is due in part to the fact that today's typical garment does not have the required 4 corners, and thus the fringes are not necessary. Traditional Jews wear a tallit katan (small prayer shawl) in order to fulfill this commandment at their own volition (although some consider it a transgression to miss a commandment that one has the ability to fulfill).

Various reasons are given for the commandment. The Torah itself states: "So that you will remember to do the commandments." In addition, it serves as a reminder of the Exodus from Egypt (Numbers 15:40). The Talmud equates its observance with that of all the mitzvot. Rambam (Comm. Pirkei Avot 2:1) includes it as a major mitzvah along with Brit Milah and Korban Pesah.

The two sets of stands are knotted together twice, and then the "shamash" (a longer strand) is wound around the remaining seven strands a number of times (see below). The two sets are then knotted again twice. This procedure is repeated three times. A commonly formed pattern of windings is 7-8-11-13 (totalling 39 winds - the gematria of the "The LORD is One" Deuteronomy 6:4). Others, especially Sephardim, have 10 and 5 and 6 and 5, a combination that represents directly the spelling of the Tetragrammaton.

The simple things matter when they lead us to the big things ...

  1. Look at Deuteronomy 6. And Joshua 4 – the 12 stones. The children will ask about the simple things and the parents are to recall what it really means. They are to tell the story of what God has done.

  2. Do you remember what you learned at VBS? The simple things of VBS lead us to the greater things of God. God is at work in a cardboard synagogue or under a shade tree.

  3. I remember my first VBS – I was the only teen the first night. Ron, Ed, and me. And Ed shared the gospel with me in a way that was inspiring. Until that moment I always thought of baptism as “hell insurance” I thought it was something that I certainly needed to take care of but I didn’t really see how it made much of a difference in my life here and now. So I wanted to take care of the matter privately. Ed gave me another way to look at it: “Don’t miss out on the joy of being a Christian.” A simple thing that pointed to something much greater. Here was an older man who shared his Christian joy with a young man of 13. He gave me a vision for following God rather than describing it as a chore or spiritual tax payments.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 18 June 2006

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