Topic: Jewish Prayer Shawls

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Point of Interest:

Jewish Prayer Shawl 101:

This is a video clip of a Rabbi teaching about the Tallis and telling a few jokes.



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Some of you have asked where you can buy a prayer shawl.  If you are interested, you can click on the picture on the right.

Reading Material

The basis for understanding more about Jewish prayer shawls is found in Numbers 15

37 The LORD said to Moses, 38 "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel. 39 You will have these tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes. 40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. 41 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God.' "

So the key is to remember that the tassels are to remind them of God, His law, His authority, and that He is watching over them.  The tassels on the corner of their cloaks is the origin of Jewish Prayer shawls.

The devotional on the right will explains this concept a little better:

This understanding of the roots of the Jewish prayer shawl will help you to better understand many stories in scripture.  Here are a few examples:


Even before Boaz first met Ruth, he had heard that she an interest in the God of Israel:

When you put the prayer shawl over your shoulders and hold out the corners, it looks like wings of a bird.  That is what Boaz is referring to here.  He sees that Ruth is seeking refuge under the "wings" - the prayer shawl, or the authority of God.

Ruth 2:11 Boaz replied, "I've been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before. 12 May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge." 13 "May I continue to find favor in your eyes, my lord," she said. "You have given me comfort and have spoken kindly to your servant—though I do not have the standing of one of your servant girls."

So later, in chapter Ruth 3, when Ruth asks for Boaz to cover her with the corner of his cloak, she was not only expressing a desire for him to propose marriage to her, but she was indicating that she wanted to come under the authority of his God (as apposed to her Moabite upbringing).


1 Samuel 24

Now think about the story of David cutting off the corner of Saul's robe.  What David had done is cut the tassel off Saul's robe.  David felt badly afterward, because he thought - who am I to symbolically take the authority of God away from Saul, it is up to God to do that.


2 Kings 2:1-15

When Elijah is taken up in the fiery chariot the throws his cloak to Elisha.  Why?  Because he is passing the symbol of God's authority and protection to Elisha.


(Matt. 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-34; Luke 8:43-47)

She touched the Hem of Jesus garment - the tassels on the corner of His cloak.  Why?  Consider this Messianic prophecy:

The Hebrew word “kanaph” means both corner and wings.  So, as she listened to Jesus teach, she realized that he must be the Messiah.  Therefore, because of Malachi 4:2, there would be healing in the corner of His cloak.  So touching it was a statement of faith!  Jesus is the Messiah!

Malachi 4:2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings (Hebrew word = kanaph).”

Dave Lyman

Podcast relating to Prayer Shawls: