"Then the Lord said to Moses, "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garment with a blue cord on each tassel. You will have the tassels to look at and so you will remember all the commands of the Lord.'"
-Numbers 15:37-39 NIV
We have been enjoying learning about Jewish celebrations and traditions. This week we made Tzitzits, which are tassels which are still added to the corners of Jewish clothes today. The exact way to make them is passed down from generation to generation and has many regulations about the materials and dyes that must be used. We did not want to presume to make an actual tzitzits, but through the making of a model of one, we learned about them and their meaning.
I found the idea for making them in Remembering God's Chosen Children by Susan Mortimer, but when we tried to make them according to her instructions, we ran into lots of problems. I decided it might be helpful if we told you how we ended up making them.
We made our tzitzit from three strands of white cotton embroidery thread, about 20 inches long each. I actually would recommend you using about 24 inches, to give you some room to tie the last knots. More is better in this case. You can always trim off the end, if it is too long.
You will also need one strand of sky-blue cotton embroidery thread at least 28 inches long. Again, a little more might make it easier to make.
We punched a hole in a piece of card stock and then, placing the card stock so that the hole is facing you, put a weight on the card stock. This will give you a stable place to tie the knots.
Thread all four strands through the hole, which represents the corner of a garment.
Tie a double granny knot with all the white threads.
Next, wrap the blue strand around the others seven times.
Continue tying double knots and wrapping in this order:
The younger boys had a lot of trouble making the appropriate amount of knots and coils with the thread because they have to be tied tightly and wrapped tightly. I let them stop when they ran out of thread, for it was the experience of making one in order to cement in their minds what they were learning that was important, not that they made it according to specification. They put theirs in their history notebooks along with the scripture above.
The numbers of the knots and coils all mean things, which help the Jews to remember the commandments, but when I researched what they meant, it required a knowledge of the Hebrew language, as many of the numbers are symbolic values that are attached to the Hebrew letters that make up things such as the name of God, the word "one" (as in the one God) and in the name tzitzit.