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TALITH

An oblong shawl worn over the head or shoulders and is made of wool or camel's hair, among the Orthodox Jews; more commonly of silk, among the more modern. Four threads, one of which must be blue, are passed through eyelet holes made in the four corners. The threads being double make eight. Seven are of equal length; the eighth must twist five times round the rest and be tied into five knots, and yet remain equal in length to the other seven. The five knots and eight threads make thirteen, which, with the value 600 of the Hebrew word tsitsith (or fringes, upon which the holiness of the talith depends) aggregates 613, the number of precepts of the moral law, and which is the number of the letters in Hebrew composing the Deealogue. 613 represents 248 positive precepts, or members of the human body, and 365 negative precepts, or number of human veins. Jesus of Nazareth wore the tsitsith: "And behold a woman . . . came behind him and touched the hem of his garment" (Matthew IN, 20); and he rebuked the Pharisces for their ostentation in enlarging the borders, the Greek fringes of their garments (Matthew XXIII, 5). The Arba Canphoth (see illustration) is worn under the upper garments during the whole day.

- Source: Mackey's Encyclopedia of Freemasonry


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