And it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord. Numbers 15:39
Have you seen the commercial on being average? It says “average has a memory problem” and the man in the ad finds himself continually forgetting to exercise. Makes me laugh, maybe because I can relate.
God told His people that they needed to tie tassels onto their garments, so that they would remember to be obedient. The Israelites had “forgotten” to keep Sabbath and had treated it as just another day. God knows our memory problems, especially when it’s something we’d rather forget. So He helps with a visual aid. It is a reminder of the commandments, but also of the consequences of not being obedient.
The tassel, or tzitzit, is tied to each of the 4 corners of their outer garment, the tallit, and would be easily seen hanging down. By tradition, each tzitzit has 5 knots in it, representing the five books of Torah. As a reinforcement to remember the commandments, the tassels themselves came to represent obedience.
The tassels also afford some accountability. You not only see and feel them yourself, but those around you do, too. By wearing them, you have declared that you are living in obedience.
There are things that sometimes I’d like to “forget” to obey. I want to develop a heart that not only remembers, but just as importantly, wants to remember. It’s easy to put the poor in the back of my mind as I scurry about my busy day. I want to remember compassion even when it’s inconvenient. I want to remember grace when I feel unfairly treated - those times when, in the moment, it’s easier to forget grace and remember justice.
God thought obedience was so important that He gave reminders. Wearing tassels was not only a reminder, but in some ways a sign that you want to obey. You want to be reminded.
I have flashcards of things I am praying for and hoping to cultivate in my life. I see them every day.
What do you look at to remember?