We have an interesting arrangement hanging on our living room wall. There is a “tallit” hanging next to a picture of Simeon holding Jesus (from Luke 2). I love the tallit and the picture; I can look at them and contemplate for long periods of time.
A tallit is a prayer shawl used by Jewish rabbis. It is longer than it is wide and is worn draped over the shoulders. When it is time to pray the shawl is lifted and used as a covering for the head. On the corners of the tallit are tzitzits. These are strings that hang down and are tied in five knots. The five knots are to remind the praying person of the five books of the Law of Moses and the four spaces between the knots are to represent the four letters, or consonants, in God’s name (YHWH).
Perhaps you know the story of the woman who had a terrible ailment that had something to do with bleeding. Her story is recorded in Matthew 9, as well as in Mark 5 and Luke 8. The story is that the woman is convinced that if she can just touch the hem of Jesus garment she would be healed. And she was right!
She touched the hem, but the word translated hem, you guessed it – tzitzit. Maybe she didn’t just touch the bottom of his robe, but rather one of the special cords that hang in five knots from the corner of his prayer shawl. This would take little more effort than just grabbing at the bottom of his robe. Maybe it explains why others may have been crowding and touching him, but she was healed.
But, really, what difference does it make? I’m not sure it does, but I remember wearing the tallit while speaking once. At one point I draped it over her shoulders, took the edges of the garment in my hands and held them up. Afterward I was told that I looked like I had angel wings!
Isn’t there a prophecy in Malachi and in Ezekiel, or somewhere that indicates that Messiah will come with healing in his wings? I wonder if this woman, sensing and experiencing Jesus as Messiah, had faith to touch his wings, claim the prophecy, and was healed. I wonder what wings that gave her…