I have previously written concerning the command of the tzitzit. If you haven’t read that, you may want to begin there, as it speaks more of the foundational issues and how it all relates to us (here’s the link). But now, I’d like to share some additional things I’ve learnt on the subject.
The Hebrew word “tzitzit” (ציצת) has language roots that go back to a noun, “tzitz” (ציץ), and a verb, “tzutz” (צוץ). Interestingly, this combination helps to define the purpose of the tzitzit very well, as they are a physical object (noun) that should lead the wearer to an action (verb).
When we consider the value and purpose of the tzitzit from YHWH’s perspective, I truly believe that these root words can give us a fascinating insight that will help us in our understanding. Nothing YHWH does is by coincidence, and I believe that the Hebrew language is a great testament to this reality. (For the record, let me say that I am by NO means a scholar of the language – indeed, far from it! But, we have the ability and privilege in these times to study the original words without having a fluency in the language.)
As we look at these two root words in Scripture, we discover that there are two verses that contain both of the words. The first of these is found in Numbers 17:8 – only two chapters after the tzitziot (plural) are first discussed. We read of a rebellion that arose against Moses and Aaron, and in this chapter, YHWH authenticates Aaron’s family as His chosen priestly line after 12 wooden rods from each of the tribes were placed in the tabernacle overnight. On the next day, only Aaron’s rod had miraculously been transformed. The latter part of verse 8 reads, “the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds”. In this amazing incident, we find the two root words we are studying – where the rod “bloomed” (the verb צוץ) “blossoms” (the noun ציץ).
The second verse is found in Psalm 103:15, which tells us, “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourishes”. The two root words here are, “flower” (the noun ציץ) and “flourishes” (the verb צוץ). As you see, these verses give a good idea of what these words indicate, and we see how closely interrelated they are. The object (noun) is a flower or blossom, and the active word (verb) is to do with the flourishing or blooming of those flowers. They are not words that oppose each other but, rather, fully complement each other.
I find the thoughts and pictures that are hidden here within the language absolutely amazing! In some ways, we could say that a tzitzit actually looks similar to a twig with flower buds on it, but I think the links here are understood more effectively if we examine the purpose of the tzitzit command. Remember that the tzitziot are to remind us of YHWH’s commands in order to do them. Here’s the action part of the equation – we DO the commanded instructions in obedience. The tzitziot are to be like the flowers that bloom out of our faithful obedience to our Creator!
So, if we wear our tzitziot (and I certainly hope we all choose to do so), then they should be like flowers before YHWH and before those that watch us living our lives. You see, tzitziot can very easily be worn in a prideful way to bring attention to ourselves – or in a legalistic way of ticking a box that supposedly puts more credits in our spiritual account. This is not YHWH’s purpose for them! You’d be far better to never wear them if this is your mindset. There is indeed a purpose for them, however, and the flowers that are shown by the tzitzit actually bring glory to YHWH and not ourselves. It is His perfect Torah that blossoms when we submit ourselves to live in obedience to it. In other words, people can see the goodness and beauty of the Torah as they witness it in action through our lives – and the physical tzitzit is to be a symbol of this.
When we consider Aaron’s rod, we see that there were not only flowers that blossomed, but almonds that were produced. In other words, fruit was the end result. Flowers are beautiful and a glory in themselves, but they are ultimately there to produce fruit and seed. I see another fascinating thought here, as we consider the tzitzit. Tzitziot are great reminders and may stand out in the crowd – but they are not the fruit! When you wear your tzitziot, remember to obey your Father, but also remember that they are not the actual fruit He is desiring from our lives. So where does the fruit fit in with all that we’ve looked at?
Earlier in the Torah, we read a verse that gives us a conditional statement, beginning with “If you walk in my statutes, and keep My commandments, and do them …” (Lev 26:3). These words are precisely what YHWH tells us the tzitziot were to be reminders of, and after all that we’ve examined so far, the words that follow begin to truly complete the picture. Verse 4 reads, “… then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.” Here is the fruit!! Can you see the direct link here back to the commandments? The tzitzit is like the visible flower that blooms from our obedience to Torah, but this definitely leads all the way to fruit. A flower doesn’t become fruit, though, without rainfall to nourish the tree and provide the sustenance it needs to develop that pollinated flower into the fruit. Does the tzitzit have it’s own water source? It doesn’t – and YHWH says that it is He alone that brings the rain. He, therefore, uses our obedience (also known as good works in Scripture) to bring about fruit in and through our lives.
I am often amazed with the way YHWH so intricately works in all aspects of our lives. He asks us to live our lives in active obedience and blesses us for doing so, and yet we can ultimately do nothing without His direct input. The subject we’ve examined here is a prime example of these truths. We get to actually participate in the plans of the Creator of the universe. This is a privilege beyond our true understanding!
As you and I wear our tzitziot, perhaps it will be an even greater remembrance for us now. We can see our tzitzit as a symbolic flower that blooms from our obedience to the Father’s instructions. We can then pray that YHWH will use our lives (send the rain) to bring fruit from those blossoms. And may it be an abundant harvest that brings great glory to His name!