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Judaism: Tzitzit
What Do Tzitzit Represent? is a rather lovely article which offers a ... wait for it ... a many-stranded answer, many woven together by one of my favorite commentators, Jacob Milgrom.

Under the heading "Shaatnez in Tzitzit: A Priestly Mix of Wool and Linen", the article notes:

Quote:Milgrom argues that shaatnez is forbidden to Israelite commoners as it is reserved for the priestly class in Judaism, some of whose clothes are, according to the instructions in Exodus 28, made of a combination of wool and linen.  Only on their tzitzit may Israelite commoners have shaatnez.

Quote:It is a conscious attempt by the Torah to encourage all Israelites to aspire to a degree of holiness comparable to that of the priests. . . . The fact that the cord is woolen and blue marks it as a symbol of both priesthood and royalty, thereby epitomizing the divine imperative that Israel become ‘a priestly royalty and a holy nation’ (Exod 19:36).

Milgrom concludes that tzitzit is the epitome of the democratic thrust within Judaism, which equalizes not by leveling but by elevating: all of Israel is enjoined to become a nation of priests.

I would suggest that the idea of equalizing by elevating lies at the heart of ethical monotheism.

By the way, I suspect that the article's brief discussion on "The Importance of the Ancient Near Eastern Hem" may tell us something about Joseph's ornamental tunic. (perhaps an interesting dvar Torah)

L'shalom ...
To be is to stand for. - Abraham Joshua Heschel

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