Whole Bible Christianity

It's a God Thing


Tassels for Whole Bible Christians - Numbers 15 and Some Practical Instruction

Wearing tassels because we love God - Reminders to follow His ways.

The "right" tassel

There are so many opinions out there regarding the Law (not to mention doing the Law) that if you weren't careful you could just freeze and not do anything. Tassels are not a big deal. There are no specific guidelines other than one thread has to be blue and they go on the corners of garments. We can argue (and lots of people do) over the exact shade of blue, or we can just pick a blue color. We can work up a sweat over just exactly the correct angle of a corner, or we can just hang them all around us. If you think that the non-biblical details and opinions are worth fighting over, then we think you've missed the point of wearing them entirely.

The orthodox don't seem to care

I was shopping at a local market with merchants who traveled over here from Israel, and I talked with an orthodox girl about tassels. I thought that I might get beat up if I wore tassels on my pants in certain parts of Jerusalem. She looked at mine on my belt loops and said they didn't bother her at all. She didn't think an orthodox Jewish person would be all that upset. Just goes to show how assumptions can possibly sidetrack relations between groups of people believing differently.

Root for your team

I use a Jewish style of tassel and wear them on my belt loops. I picked the Jewish style because it is visually appealing, it has significant meaning, and in a way I can support or promote Israel. They are made of wool, and the blue color they use is just right (maybe it's also because blue is my favorite color). The knots and wraps of the style I wear are supposed to represent the 613 commands of the Sinai living oracles. A bonus is I can promote not only the Bible and whole Bible Christianity, but also Israel. Even if they don't want me to or don't care if I do. Someday they might.

Printable version


PDF companion article on how to tie tassels (tzitzit) in one of the Jewish styles, with pictures.


Youtube video Whole Bible Applications: Tassels



Christian Faith and Practice through...Wearing Tassels

Adonai said to Moshe, "Speak to the people of Isra'el, instructing them to make, through all their generations, tzitziyot on the corners of their garments, and to put with the tzitzit on each corner a blue thread. It is to be a tzitzit for you to look at and thereby remember all of Adonai's mitzvot and obey them, so that you won't go around wherever your own heart and eyes lead you to prostitute yourselves; but it will help you remember and obey all my mitzvot and be holy for your God. I am Adonai your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt in order to be your God. I am Adonai your God." (Num. 15:37-41, Complete Jewish Bible, CJB)

What Is A Tzitzit?

This is another in a continuing series of articles written to give a little help to the person who has decided to ignore the doctrines of men and include Torah submissiveness in their walk with the Father. And one way to do this is to wear tzitziyot, or tassels, on your garments.

Four words need to be defined from this command. Through defining these words we will work through a sample process on how we figure out a lot of the meanings in the Word. There is more involved than merely looking up a definition, because to develop meaning is more than just defining a word, although a definition is a good place to start. The four words are Isra'el, tzitzit (pronounced tsee-tseet) or tzitziyot (plural, tsee-tsee-yoht, the word for tassel), corners (Hebrew kanaph), and blue (techelet). The word mitzvot might already be familiar to you as the Hebrew word for commandment, or "that which is assigned."

Right off the bat let me say that I don't want to get lost arguing about the nature of the first word, Isra'el, or who is included in Isra'el. For the moment, my own opinion is that since we are all of one household (Ephesians 4:4-6), and since the same Law applies to everyone in that household (Exodus 12:49; Leviticus 19:34, 24:22), then I am going to go with the plain meaning of Scripture and include myself in Isra'el, at least as far as adoption and faith, if not by actual physical birth. If your understanding is different, that's between you and Him. But be careful not to teach others your own interpretation lest you become subject to the millstone effect. Stick with teaching Scripture and you'll be better off. Here's one of the nine videos in our Youtube playlist Whole Bible Christianity: A Whole Body that covers more on the subject of the identity of Israel.



The next word to define is tzitzit. The word is pronounced tsee-tseet, sort of like tse tse fly. The "t" and the "s" blend to form a hard "z" sound against the teeth with the tongue. It means tassel, or a fringe, a group of threads that form a bundle. The Strong's number (Strong's Concordance) is 6734 for those so inclined to look it up. The third word needing definition is kanaph (Strong's number 3761), which is the Hebrew word for "wing" or "extremity," and is translated into English as corner or border. We'll talk about why this is important in a minute or two, depending on how fast you read.

The fourth word to define, strangely enough, is the word blue. Some have done word studies to show that the Hebrew word for blue (techelet, Strong's #8504) used here is a specific color from a specific snail. This snail was long thought to be extinct, so for an equally long time Jewish people did not have a blue thread in their tzitziyot. But in my opinion, according to a simple reading of this set of verses, there is no specific color of blue that we need to use for the blue thread. A lot of the rulings you will hear about concerning commandments such as this come from the Oral Law, which we talked about in the Dietary Laws article. I mean, when the Father thinks He has to be specific, He has no trouble giving us the exact idea He was going for, as evidenced by the detail in the Tabernacle. Heavenly blue is the Father's color, and I believe that's the meaning here.

I took the time to define these four words not only for the sake of our current discussion, but also because many arguments have been generated by each of the four. Some people want to argue, as they do about all of the instructions of God, about who is Isra'el and whether or not they've been replaced. Others argue about how to make the tassel, and exactly what shade of blue should be used for the blue thread. And still others want to fight about exactly what a corner is, and how the tassel should be fastened.


For Males and Females

And oh yeah, I forgot, some also want to argue that the tassels are only for males (some Bible translations have "sons" of Isra'el instead of "people" or children of Isra'el). I'm not criticizing those who have a deep reverence for the Word, and who go to great lengths to help us define words. The work of some of these people has helped tremendously in my understanding and practice. However, sometimes attitudes get out of whack and one person's understanding develops into somebody else's rule, which contributes to an unhealthy emphasis on the letter of the Law while ignoring the Spirit. In my opinion the challenge is to incorporate both into our lives.

While I applaud and agree with the attitude that each and every word is important, and precise definitions are always welcome, I feel we should not get bogged down in splitting hairs about definitions. We must develop meaning, which may be a lot different than a string of definitions. What does other parts of the Word say? What is the intent behind the Instructions? How do we balance all of the Words of God so that no part is excluded or suffers neglect? We must look to the immediate context as well as the greater context of the entire Word to help us with our meaning.

There are two extremes, I think, to avoid in applying this command to one's life. On the one hand, the standard Christian extreme is to ignore it, along with many other commands. It's kind of odd, though, because it's not like they haven't come up with a bunch of other things to hang around their necks (like a crucifix, which is not in the Word) or fasten to their wrists (WWJD bracelets, also not in the Word) or clothing (remember the PBPGINFWMY buttons? Please Be Patient, God Is Not Finished With Me Yet), most definitely not in the Word either), or stick on their car bumpers (My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter?). This is a devastating effect in Christianity; throw out God's Law but replace it with man-made laws.

The other extreme is to analyze these verses (or any verses) to death (literally), splitting hairs about what color blue, how to tie them, where to wear them and so on. There are lots and lots of mystical concepts we could draw from these verses; however, what is not in this command is the freedom to ignore it if you cannot find the correct shade of blue. This is the type of thinking that has derailed many a fervent, respectful, seeker of God.

Notice that this command is not for other people, or only for males, but for the individual person. The tzitziyot is to remind me about the instructions of my Father, and to help me remember not to follow after my own understanding. These tassels are not for showing how holy I am, or for how closely I follow someone's interpretation of the Word. They are reminders for me, because my eyes and heart are tempted to go a different way than God commanded.


I have chosen to use a style of tassel that is Jewish in origin, but that is only because I like the style not because it is any holier than another style. I learned how to tie them from a book by a rabbi named Aryeh Kaplan titled "Tzitzith, A Thread of Light," and he teaches a number of very interesting concepts in it. He has complete instructions on how to tie them, if you choose this type. They are very simple to tie, and the knots have meaning related to the commands. But remember, there are many different styles of tzitziyot even in Judaism. I don't think it matters; what's important is trying to do what your Father says as best you know how.

I happen to interpret the word "corners" to mean 'all around' as in the four corners of the earth (even though it's round). Hey, I'm pretty round too! So, I fasten four tzitziyot to the belt loops of my pants. I do not have a source for tassels already tied. Search eBay and other places as there are more people selling them now than there were 20 years ago.

I put the tassels on a very small key ring then put the ring on the belt loop, otherwise the wool threads wear out too quick. I have also used nylon (mini-blind riser cord) and cotton (such as Perle Crochet). I braid the top loop and I don't attach them permanently because of the command not to mix threads (Deuteronomy 22:11) in my garment. I wrote an article on how to tie this type of tassel titled 'How to Tie Your Own Tzitzit In One of the Jewish Styles' (say that ten times fast) in PDF format (you need the Adobe Reader) if you want to look more closely. I chose this method because I am 'surrounded' by reminders about my Father's loving instructions, which also helps me feel surrounded by His Love.

And believe me, it does make a difference. I don't know why, but these reminders help a great deal to discipline the awareness and help me remember to match my actions with my words. At first I felt a little weird wearing them, but most people do not know what they mean so after a bit I just relaxed and concentrated on using them to remind me not to sin. Most people do not understand the significance, and probably think they're some sort of Native American fetish, but so what. I wear them long, because as rabbi Kaplan says, they should be long to get in the way of the flesh in the same way that the Word gets in the way of the flesh. After a while I have to trim them because they get caught and twisted and frayed and fall apart.

My wife has used them on her purse, because in her thinking a purse is like a garment and she doesn't wear pants that often. I'm sure she will wear them on her pants if she comes to that understanding as well, but in the meantime she does what she understands is right between her and her Father. I have seen women wearing all four on their belt loops as I (and others) do, but I do not think this is a problem if I read the text correctly.

Jews wear a shirt under their outer shirt called a talit katan (taw-leet kaw-tawn). This shirt has four pointy corners to hang their tzitzit from because some people think a corner has to have right angles. That's okay; I don't see a problem with this unless someone tries to make it a rule for other people. Another way to wear tzitziyot is on a talit, which is also known as a prayer shawl. These have tzitziyot on the corners and are used for privacy in prayer. Be cautious if you choose to use a talit, however, and stay sensitive to possible offense given to Jewish people. The talit and the talit katan are not specifically commanded in Scripture, but there is a great deal of meaning to them. The talit is related to the Tabernacle, and to clothing, and even to the Glory of God that He covers Himself with. This glory is none other than Jesus the Messiah, so the talit is also related to Him. I use one for prayer because it has a deep significance for me. I advise you to develop your own understanding about the talit before you begin to use one. Mr. Kaplan goes over some of the meanings in the book I mentioned, or I can go over these teachings more thoroughly in another article if you'd like.

I said we would talk about the word kanaph in a few minutes, so thanks for waiting. In Malachi 4:2 the Father says,

But to you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will break out leaping, like calves released from the stall. (Malachi 4:2 (3:20 in the CJB)

The word for wings here is, you guessed it, kanaph. Now flash forward to the woman with an issue of blood who moved through the throng to touch the corner of His robe (Mark 5:25-34). It is probable that she understood this verse, and very probably that what she touched was His tzitzit on the corners or "wings" of His talit. Of course, to some this would be merely coincidence.

"Remember and obey my mitzvot and be holy (qadosh) for your God."

God bless all your efforts to walk in His Ways.

Bruce Scott Bertram

PDF companion article on how to tie tassels (tzitzit) in one of the Jewish styles, with pictures.