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This explanation of Holy Scripture aims to briefly, and peaceably share some commandments in a concise manner. The commandments and customs which will be explained and shared are the Mezuzah, tefillin (phylacteries), tzitzit (fringes), talit gadol, siddurs (prayer books). Scripture is referenced and discussed along the way.
This commandment is found in Deuteronomy 6:9 amongst other places.
Today, a mezuzah contains a handwritten scroll which features select passages from the Torah. These scrolls are written by the dear scribes and Pharisees.
It is a great commandment, and also assists in being mindful of the G-d’s good ways, upon entering one’s gates/doors.
The are various customs with regard to installation on your door posts – however typically the mezzanine is installed on the right of the door(s) (when entering), about 3/4 of the way up the door.
The mezuzah can be slightly angled on a diagonal, with the top towards the left, the bottom towards the right.
■ Tefillin (phylacteries)
This commandment is found in Deuteronomy 6:8 amongst other places, and we see its implementation and use in verses such as Matthew 23:5 – where the tefillin of Deuteronomy 6:8 (totophoth [Strong’s Hebrew Concordance word number 2903]), are referred to as ‘phylacteries’. (phulaktérion [Strong’s Greek Concordance word number 5440])
Tefillin consists of the batim (two boxes) filled with handwritten select passages from the Torah, and retzuot (tefillin straps, used to bind/tie/affix the batim to the head and arm, during a morning prayer.
The tefillin making process is typically all by the dear scribes and Pharisees, from leather selection, pressing and forming, the copying of Holy Scripture to parchment scoll by hand, and to paint application.
Like Mezuzah scrolls, there are various grades of quality for the construction, the grade of leather, and also the parchment that make up tefillin.
■ Tzitzit (fringes)
This commandment is found in Numbers 15:37-41, and we see it being implemented in verses such as Matthew 23:5, Matthew 9:20 and Luke 8:44.
Due to modern dress and society, the commandment of fringes (tzitzit) is generally carried out today by way of wearing a Tallit Ketan (undershirt, with four distinguished corners nearing the waist, similar to a poncho).
The commandment is also demonstrated by those who pray with a tallit gadol (prayer shawl) during their prayer.
■ Siddurim (Prayer Books)
These can be an excellent tool in learning ancient blessings, and prayers – and even some Hebrew along the way as you go.
Siddurs such as the Artscroll Transliterated Interlinear English Siddur, display the Hebrew, the Transliterated Hebrew (Hebrew with English letters to pronounce), and the English on the page.
As per the famous Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:8-13), we can see that the instruction and contextual message to be learned, is to not make our prayers unnecessarily long.
What we seek is already known;
Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Matthew 6:8 NIV
‘Pray then like this:…’
(Matthew 6:9 ESV)
From this, and with the learning of ancient/old prayers from a siddur, one can perhaps make a concise selection from a prayer book in their prayers.
In the siddur mentioned above, a person might see that some of the mourning blessings and requests are quite similar to those referenced in the Lord’s Prayer.
Thus such selections from the siddur that might resound with you and be on your heart might add a richness to your prayers, whether you feel English or Hebrew be best.
For fuller context, some reasons why it has been recommended that prayer be kept concise – apart from what has been quoted above from Matthew 6:8 -, is that some of the zealous Pharisees may have been motivated to appear overly pious to others by praying on street corners in public (Matthew 6:5).
Another reason for a concise/shorter prayer, is that pagans used to have very lengthy prayers in hopes that they would be heard by their created god(s) (Matthew 6:7, 1 King 18:26, 18:28-29).
With this, perhaps some might feel that an occasional long prayer is an act of reverence – especially when sung.
If so, such does not break the above two instructions, and could also perhaps be seen as reverencial, worshipful music (e.g. Orthodox Jewish Prayers sung in a synagogue).
In ancient times in Israel, there were indeed professional singers involved in beautiful melodic service;
Then David spoke to the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their relatives as the singers, with musical instruments, harps, lyres, and cymbals, playing to raise sounds of joy.
1 Chronicles 15:16 NASB2020
A person should carefully review such books, and even perhaps make amendments where needed – as Messiah (Christ) has been, risen, and appeared.
The disciples were certainly devoted to prayer;
‘And they continued stedfastly… in prayers.’
(Acts 2:42 KJV)
‘…we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.’
(Acts 6:4 KJV)
Where To Buy?
These commandments and customs can usually be purchased today from a reputable Judaica store.
There are also online sellers of such, whom offer ‘kosher certificates/certification’ with regard to construction and quality as per the various customs.
The writer has purchased both locally and online from such places as www.ajudaica.com – which at the time of writing, is still trading. With regards to the Tallit Ketan, some might prefer the Perf-Tzit also known as Neat-Tzit/Undershirt Tzitzit brand, which is a little less long in the garment (not as ‘baggy’), though not too fitted from www.golds.com.au .
Remember to refrain from a purchase on the Sabbath!
Potential Rebuttal from a person with regard to the commandments of Tefillin and Tzitzit;
A person might read Matthew 23:5 and initially mistakenly say something like ‘this passage means we no longer do these commandments anymore – as G-d’s Law is written on our hearts…’;
They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long,
Matthew 23:5 ESV
Such an interpretation however is incorrect, as the context of this passage is essentially saying ‘do the commandments, however do not seek the praise of men whilst doing them. Instead do them out of love and obedience to God’.
We see such to be true in the next two verses – where it goes further into the context and speaks of people whom might be seeking the praise of men, instead of the praise of G-d;
‘…broad and their fringes long,
and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others.’
(Matthew 23:5-7 ESV).
May the Holy God bless you beyond maximum, believing in His risen Son the Lord Jesus Christ (Adonai Yehoshua/Yeshua HaMoshiach);
With this faith, as we go on learning (Acts 15:21) and upholding His Law (the law of Moses, which features the famous Ten Commandments and the rest);
For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. Do we then overthrow the law by this faith?
By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.
Romans 3:28, 3:31 ESV