This is the seventh excerpt from “Going Up to Jerusalem – My Personal Aliyah!” – which we hope to publish as an ebook. Your comments are encouraged. Just use the ‘contact’ icon to send an email.
Steve Grace and I headed for the Wall to join hundreds in prayer. We entered a throng of Jewish men who were wearing dark black suits and a variety of head-covering. (Women have a separate prayer section)
One of the sad reasons for the black clothing comes from Christian anti-Semitism.
It was the medieval church who demanded Jews wear black. This disgraceful law was made to emphasize the so-called, low rank of the Jews. In that medieval society the upper class wore colorful, gaudy fashion but Jews were regarded as non-persons and so their lower status was identified by black. It is an example of Christian arrogance at its worst and so un-Christlike as to demand repentance.
Dr Gerhard Falk in an article discussing ‘Jewish Clothing’ explained: Black clothes are also known to Jews as a symbolic expression divrai yirah shomayim, which means “fearing heaven”. To some Jews life is very serious and the Jew is always conscious of his relationship to G’d. Therefore black is worn so as to avoid frivolity and also place distance between the wearer and everyone else.”
(Note: Jews refer to G’d because of the laws of Moses (Deut 12: 3 – 13: 4). They do not write the full name for fear it might be misused, erased, burned or trashed. Generally they refer to Him as Hashem, which means ‘the name’. Many incorrectly criticize the Jews for being legalistic, but I wish our Christian leaders had taken serious regard for the Word of the Lord before they approved of murder, brutality, rape and abuse in their wretched anti-Semitic behaviour, all of that done ‘in Jesus’ name’, of course. (Sad fact i…(?) some still do!).
There were men around us, who wore a variety of black or furry hats called a streimel. The style of headwear most often identifies their European origin of a Chassidic sect.
Chassidic thought is based on devekut or ‘clinging to God.’ It highlights their pursuit of God, which includes Torah study and observance of the commandments but also seeks to cling to God in all aspects of life.
The other obvious garment on display was the tallit (prayer shawl). The word tallit originally meant ‘gown’ or ‘cloak.’ Jewish men are entitled to wear the prayer shawl after their bar mitzvah generally at the age of 13 years and girls after their bat mitzvah at 12.
“Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the LORD, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God.” (Numbers 15:38-40)
The Judaica Guide says, “The Tallit itself is a white rectangular piece of fabric, which is usually made of wool, but sometimes is made of cotton, poliester or silk. On each of the four corners of the Tallit are special knots called Tassels (Tzitzit) in fulfillment of the biblical commandment. The purpuse of the Tallit is to hold the Tassels, so the Tallit itself has no religious meaning. The purpose of the Tzitzit (according to the Torah) is to remind us of God’s commandments. Many Tallitot have blue or black stripes woven in along the shorter ends. They also commonly have an artistic motif (also called Atarah or crown) of some kind along the top long end (the part that goes against your neck). There is no particular religious significance to the Atarah, it simply shows which side of the Tallit should be up.” (http://www.judaica-guide.com/tallit/)
I confess, I had not connected the tallit and the fringes on the garment worn by Yeshua.
“And a woman who had been suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak; for she was saying to herself, “If I only touch His garment, I will get well.” But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” (Matt 9: 20-22)
How clearly does that moment highlight the Jewishness of the Lord and His embrace of Jewish culture?